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Hermes Never Had Days Like This


The fleet-footed Greek carried some messages in his day, but we’d wager yesterday would have taxed even his godly abilities.

In our trade, honed over decades of labor in police stations and smoke-infused pool rooms, yesterday would go down as a “Code 3 Day” – Lights and Sirens all the way.

The grim crop reaped by yesterday’s field work can be seen on our “Front Page,” a quaint holdover reference from the days we could actually yell “Stop the Presses!” and all eyes would turn to you with expectation and a little bit of jealousy as something “big” unfolded – and it was up to us to figure it out, quickly, and get it into the paper.

It was a tricky, often costly process, editors tapping out the money you were costing them on the back of your chair as you reverse-accessed a frightened office worker, sheltering under her desk as an armed man stalked the building where she worked – firing randomly at anyone he saw.

All of that coming back in a flood as a suburban scenario developed into something else yesterday, people calling and writing to say “he’s shooting” in the same edgy tone as that office worker, the sound of a man yelling clear over her phone, getting closer as he made his way down the halls, shooting as he went: “Pop… pop… pop, pop… pop.”

Our office worker made it, and we made the front page “above the fold,” leaving the paper way late that night with the cold sweat drying on our backs, checking the racks for our story and our byline, senses reeling. One story among many.

Interestingly, almost eerily, voices from our newspapering past checked in with us yesterday as those sirens started to wail again and neighbors reported hearing shots fired… pop… pop. One belonged to a former SWAT officer, following our news alerts, and he was quiet for a minute before he said something we felt he might say: “Actually,” he wrote. “(I) miss this stuff!”

Old War Horses. Put out to pasture.

Sadly, one terrible story evolved into another yesterday, with today’s police and emergency people stressed and hurting after their own contact with people they’ll probably never be able to forget – their own memories forged by individual traumas and moments frozen forever in their minds.

One of our photographers raced from scene to scene, recording the sense of confusion and loss as new incidents continued to stack up through the night, more reports of barricaded suspects and guns and police planning to breach a room with something unknown on the other side of the door.

“Golly,” he wrote late in the busy night. “When will it stop?”

We don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see – and keep carrying the message.


  1. Well said, please keep up the good work, you do an excellent job by informing folks what’s going on out there, and very timely (quick)…

  2. I thank you too, for keeping us informed.
    It’s amazing some horrible things are going on out there and it seems to be kept under wraps by most the media. I don’t know why.
    I don’t mean for anything to be blasted out beyond proportion. But things should be reported!
    Twice in the last week, criminals that had done some really bad things and were released, did even worse things later in the week! (One ended up killing two people)
    When are the citizens going to wake up and demand more from our officials?
    Maybe they’re not hearing about it because most of the media doesn’t seem to cover.
    All I know is that us individual citizens are now a greater risk of harm than we probably ever been! Can you blame people that they’re rushing out to buy guns for themselves?
    (I don’t condone this, but can you blame them)
    I don’t know what it’s going to take for our leaders and public officials to wake up.

  3. Your retelling made me think of 101 California St in 1993, but that’s not the one, is it. So many since then. Today, we have more people and many more weapons.

    • We were down on street level for that one, David, but also a tough one. And you’re right, there have been far too many since then.

  4. @Greg. “It’s amazing some horrible things are going on out there and it seems to be kept under wraps by most the media. I don’t know why.”

    I’m no authority, but news is a for-profit business. “If it bleeds, it leads”. “News” outlets can find their gore from anywhere in the world these days…cheap! They can “report” manufactured controversies and inflame one side against the other…cheap. It seems to me that is where we are. Sadly. Of course, local journalism does not make money, so it is disappearing. Sadly.

    • If we may, we agree that there are things happening out there that are not seeing the light of day. We stay in our own lane and can’t/won’t comment on what other media is doing (unless they attack us for some reason, of course, which has happened) as most outlets choose to cover stories in each their own way.

      BUT, we will say that there is an intentional effort by public agencies to blunt public and press access to reports, court documents, and other information once considered accessible and in the public’s interest to peruse. We don’t think we have to tell anyone that there was and still is an effort to demonize the press – and that after some thought we have adopted a policy of “talking back” to naysayers who wish us harm. We do this because we have found that not doing this merely invites more of the same type of misinformed critiques and attacks.

      And, lastly, keeping in mind that we know you weren’t aiming the point at us, we are indeed a for-profit operation, that we believe in paying our small staff a decent wage and that we are proudly profitable and debt-free. And while “If it bleeds, it leads” was a newsroom maxim some decades ago it is not ours. While our readership does count on us for coverage of breaking news scenarios we are not driven by those numbers, the gore you mention, or the celebrity coverage other outlets find attractive.

      Despite the barriers placed before us and the inherent hardship of the job we continue to grow… and would only “disappear” if the timing was right and the right beach called out to us.

      As ever, thanks for writing… and reading.

      • I was certainly not aiming criticism at News24-680. I have read that small, local news organizations are disappearing as revenues dry up in these changing times. That is the saddest part, as these local news sources are often the most dedicated to the public service aspect of local news and local stories, asking only for just compensation for their work. I remember a recent interview with Art Cullen, Pulitzer winning editor of the Storm Lake Times, and it felt like he was swimming against the tide. How to find revenue for a small-town publication in a digital age?

        As for holding local police and city councils accountable, I don’t know how to do that, so I’m grateful that you continue to bang on those doors for us.

        • Sure, we didn’t take it as a criticism as much as an opportunity to relay a few things about how we work. Be well!

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