Kirsten Stromsodt

Assigning Editor, The Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks, ND

[ND-E 0201]

You know, you’d asked me earlier when I decided I wanted to do this. I was very young, but I didn’t realize then where I wanted to go in the field of journalism. I didn’t know if I wanted to be on TV or if I to wanted to work at a newspaper. And then the flood of ‘97 happened.

I was a senior in high school; I went to a small school in rural Grand Forks County. I grew up reading the newspaper. I remember one of my first memories was pretending to read the comics to my dad when I was about 4. Anyway, during the flood, our school was canceled and of course the paper had difficulty printing. What the Herald was doing was distributing a paper every day at about five or six to different drop-off locations around the city. And I was sent to Emerado, [N.D.,] which is a town just right by the Air Force Base, which is 5 miles from where we lived – to get the free paper.

I remember going to that gas station and watching people just crowded around that truck as they were throwing off bundles of Heralds. And it still gives me chills, to this day, to see how important that was to those people.

And it was over for me. I was done. It solidified my calling.

I graduated, and that fall I went into The Herald, I’d heard of a friend of a friend who had a part-time job here, and I walked in and said I want to work here. So I worked here, through college, and then they just felt like keeping me around so – but really that moment, I still remember where I was, and it’s like: “It’s yeah. I’m sold. This is over.”

And then, you know, in 2007 something that just reminded me of that experience was that there was the small town of Northwood – It was leveled by a tornado – and I happened to be in that Sunday night doing some catch-up work, and all of a sudden the tornado hits and we’re – it’s just mass chaos. And I went home at about five in the morning and slept for two hours and came back in, and we put out a special section and distributed it free.

Just seeing how important it was to those people. We serve a purpose. People feel we’re important. It was something else. I put out three papers in 24 hours that day. I was on the copy desk then. So there’s my good anecdote. (Laughter)