The enduring importance of obituaries

The first assignment they gave me at journalism school was to write my own obituary. It’s a good way to teach the inverted pyramid writing style. That’s where you put the most important information first. Plus, it reminds young journalists that they’re expendable, valuable perspective for the current state of the industry. The other thing… Read More →

Campaign season means signs are all around us

Someone just posted a campaign sign down the road. Well, there goes the neighborhood. This sentiment now spreads across Northern Minnesota’s tumultuous political environment. A political cycle defined by white hot rage now enters a new phase: paranoia that the other side is messing with your signs. I’ve worked in journalism and I’ve managed political… Read More →

R-O-C-K in the Co-op, eh?

The Mesaba Co-Op Park sits on the border between Cherry and Hibbing. You can’t escape this place as a key setting for Iron Range history. This refuge for mostly socialist Finnish immigrants became a playground and a proving ground for 20th Century leftist politics in Northern Minnesota. And it’s still here! While the place continues… Read More →

Cliffs wins Nashwauk land case, deals blow to Mesabi Metallics

To paraphrase “The Simpsons” Episode #222: Everything’s coming up Lourenco Goncalves. It’s been a very good week for Goncalves and Cleveland-Cliffs. The company declared strong earnings. Netting $165 million in the second quarter, Cliffs is selling iron ore pellets at $112 per ton. That’s a dramatic increase from the doldrums of 2015 and 2016. Industry… Read More →

Steelworkers contract talks test strong market

This month contract negotiations opened between the United Steelworkers of America and two big steelmakers, U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal. Already, the union says the two sides are far apart. Workers hope for a better outcome than the last labor negotiations in 2015. That contract froze pay and added costs to retirees. However, it also held… Read More →

German TV station explores Bob Dylan’s Hibbing roots

Last fall the German/French art network ARTE-TV visited Hibbing, Minnesota, as part of a “Bob Dylan’s America” series exploring the roots of the erstwhile Robert Zimmerman, Hibbing Class of 1959. Host Wolfgang Niedecken interviewed me for local color up at the former Hull Rust Mahoning Mine View in North Hibbing. You can view the episode… Read More →

Summer 2018 brings color to Range communities

I drive through Nashwauk, Minnesota, most days. It’s a nice little town, but a little worn down. That’s not unusual for the cities of the western Mesabi Iron Range. These boom towns bloomed in a white pine wilderness a century ago, each at the mouth of a specific iron mine. Now that mining is more… Read More →

History echoes through Iron Range politics

In 1887, the Merritt Brothers and a crew led by Capt. J.A. Nichols discovered rich hematite ore under 14 feet of mud near the future townsite of Mountain Iron. After three years of wading through stinking mosquito swamps, alternating with hellish winter conditions, these men turned hope of discovering the Mesabi Range into reality. Almost… Read More →

Hibbing Tourist Senior Center deserves a break

In Austin, Minnesota, Hormel operates the world-famous SPAM Museum. Like Hibbing’s Hull Rust Mine View, there is no admission. They’re actually on their third museum, expanding in 2001 and again just two years ago. I’ve been there. If you want to know how random pork squeezings get turned into nebulous canned meat, they’ll tell you…. Read More →

Remembering my old neighbor Jack Lynch

During my blogging hiatus last week I received word that my old neighbor Jack Lynch passed away May 16 at the age of 83. Jack was a longtime reporter and editor for the Hibbing Daily Tribune, technically retired but still a fixture in the newspaper. Kelly Grinnsteiner, editor of the Tribune, wrote a lovely story about… Read More →