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Forum reporter looks back on half century in news business

Of all the jobs he's had in journalism, Amundson said it is the writing that means the most to him.

A reporter at his desk in the newsroom
Forum reporter Barry Amundson has worked in the news business for half a century.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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FARGO — When it comes to interviews, Barry Amundson is usually the one asking the questions.

But, in a switching of roles he recently sat down and answered questions about his half century in the news business, a career that began when he was 16 and took a job writing sports news for the Cottonwood County Citizen, a weekly newspaper in Windom, Minnesota.

He said he got the job with help from a neighbor, who owned the paper.

"I just kind of got thrown into it," said Amundson, today a reporter at The Forum.

Amundson's many decades in the news industry are being recognized this month with his entry into the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Half Century Club.

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Back in the beginning, that first gig with the Cottonwood County Citizen lasted through high school.

After graduation, Amundson took mass communication classes at what is now Minnesota State University Mankato.

During summers in college, he would return home to Windom to work at the Citizen.

While taking classes, he also worked at the college radio station and wrote sports stories for the Mankato Free Press, Mankato's daily newspaper.

In his senior year in college, Amundson was editor of the school newspaper. After graduating from college in 1978, he took a job with a weekly newspaper in Pipestone, Minnesota, where he spent about 10 years doing many things at the paper, including a regular column.

"That's where I really got my start," Amundson said, adding that the paper paid well enough that he could afford a new Chevrolet Camaro as well as house payments.

"The money was pretty good for those days," Amundson said, noting that after Pipestone he took a job at the Worthington Daily Globe, where he worked for several years as news editor.

After that, it was on to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in South Dakota, where Amundson worked as a page designer and copy editor. He figures he designed about a thousand front pages for the Argus Leader during his time there.

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A native of Walcott, North Dakota, who attended grade school in Fargo, Amundson returned to the area in 2000 to take a job at The Forum, where he worked until about 2007, when he went to work for the Sioux City Journal in Iowa, a job that included page design and copy editing.

However, layoffs at that paper resulted in him taking a job with the Tri-State Neighbor, a farm newspaper in South Dakota, where Amundson worked for about three years writing farm news.

He returned to Fargo and The Forum around 2013, where he helped in the development of the Forum News Service before donning the reporter hat he still wears today.

Amundson's devotion to reporting the news is apparent to those who work with him, according to Matt Von Pinnon, editor of The Forum.

“Even after 50 years in the business, Barry is one of our hardest-working reporters. He just loves to gather and share news with our audience and he’s well-liked by his sources as well. Barry is one of a kind," Von Pinnon said.

Of all the jobs he's had in journalism, Amundson said it is the writing that means the most to him.

"I like to inform people and entertain people. I like to try and find the truth in things by checking the facts, making the needed phone calls. That's been important," Amundson said, adding that he's covered many beats in his time.

"I've done everything: government, court news. What I've enjoyed the most are some of the features and the people I've met," Amundson added.

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As for the future? Amundson said he will retire some day and when he does it will give him a chance to spend time with relatives and friends.

As one of seven siblings, he said he has a lot of places to visit.

And there will always be newspapers and online news sites to explore, with Politico and the Star Tribune among his favorites.

Looking back on his career, Amundson said luck and a willingness to move to different places to find jobs are likely two factors accounting for his longevity in an industry marked by widespread downsizing in recent decades.

"I consider myself a survivor," he said.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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