They all know the drill.
Get to the scene. Move quickly. Listen. Get in position. Wait for the authorities. Get quotes and pictures to illustrate what's going on. Tell the story. Move on to the next day's news.
Though they recognize the Erika Dalquist story as a terrible tragedy, the Twin Cities and Brainerd area reporters assigned to cover Wednesday's search for Dalquist and the arraignment of the man suspected in her death also have a responsibility to their readers, listeners and viewers.
The resulting media event is a long, fast-paced work day that mixes somberness and humor and camaraderie and competition.
"It's like a traveling circus," Bob McNaney of KSTP television said of the media horde that often assembles at the site of major news stories. Eight of his past 10 days have been on the road with three in Washington, D.C., three days in Hallock on the Julie Holmquist homicide case and two days in Brainerd.
"Where's the next 'Quist?'" McNaney asked a rival Twin Cities reporter he had just seen in Hallock as they waited for Wednesday's law enforcement news conference to begin.
Most of the Twin Cities reporters know each other from news scenes. McNaney said they "beat up" on each other during the day but might get together for a beer after work. If a camera operator's battery goes dead, it's not unusual for a rival photographer to offer him fresh ones.
"It's a pretty nice market," McNaney said.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, as employees streamed out of the Crow Wing Courthouse, three Twin Cities reporters talked over the courthouse's carillon bells in their live stand-up reports that were broadcast to their respective stations by the satellite trucks that lined up on Laurel Street. Television reporters from WCCO, KARE and KSTP gave live 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. reports from the courthouse on the story that commanded the attention of Minnesotans Wednesday. WCCO radio of Minneapolis and KLKS radio of Breezy Point had live reports Wednesday night. Lakeland Public TV and channel 9 from the Twin Cities also covered the arraignment and news conferences on the Dalquist case.
Although they're big city reporters now, many of the Twin Cities reporters have small town roots and demonstrate a sensitivity for which they're not always given credit.
The Star Tribune's veteran reporter, Chuck Haga, puffed on his pipe outside of the Law Enforcement Center during the break between the arraignment of William Myears and the law enforcement news conference. He wondered aloud at what sort of world it was in which a young woman could be abducted and murdered in a small town. Haga worked for years as a newspaper columnist and city editor in Grand Forks, N.D., and admitted to missing the relative tranquility of small-town life.
Lee Wall, a 1971 graduate of Little Falls High School and the husband of a Crosby area woman, was in Brainerd Wednesday as a photographer for KARE 11. He spent weeks in Brainerd during the murder trial of Roger Caldwell in 1978. Like Haga, he also commented about how sad the Dalquist story is, saying he preferred coming to Brainerd for stories such as the hole in North Long Lake's ice.
Christine Haas of KARE 11 was dressed in a warm hat and coat as she stood in front of the former county jail for her report. Although she previously reported from Florida she's originally from Chicago and knows how to dress in Minnesota winters.
Before his 5 p.m. broadcast McNaney joked that while in some television markets viewers might call in and criticize a reporter's hat, in Minnesota they call in and question why reporters didn't have a hat on when the temperature drops.
Bill Hudson of WCCO television, who was already in Brainerd doing a story on the lack of snow and its effect on resorts, was recruited to cover the Dalquist story when another reporter couldn't make it.
He did his broadcast in front of the courthouse in jeans and tennis shoes as the camera zoomed on the top half of his body.
When all the live broadcasts were done the reporters and photographers packed up their gear and prepared to leave Brainerd.
KSTP's McNaney was headed home Wednesday but regretted that his two children might be in bed before they could wish him a happy 38th birthday.
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