On Jan. 26, 2017, Chippewa Herald reporter and columnist Rod Stetzer wrote on Facebook “Today I head off to retirement. I would like to thank Holly Meier, Curtis Gaylord and Mark Baker for their faith in me and my ability. Ross Evavold also helped me immensely when I was hospitalized. Thanks for everything and on to the next phase of life.”
Many of us would like to thank Rod for his gracefulness, integrity, love of the community and the years of faithful service to the news media in the Chippewa Valley. Rod was/is one of my favorite people. Besides being a nice guy he was/is an excellent reporter.
People love to slam the media. Be it by calling it “the lame stream media” or that favorite line, “I was misquoted.” I can honestly say in all my years working with the newspapers in the Chippewa Valley, the TV and radio outlets and even once the national media, I have never been misquoted or had things taken out of context.
Rod was the epitome of a hard-working journalist. I first met Rod at some raucous Town of Hallie meeting — when, I really don’t remember. But that was his beat. The paper was then an afternoon paper but Rod had to leave to get his story written on deadline and submitted. Rod has a dry wit about him and could see through nonsense better than almost anyone I know.
Many people don’t like to talk to the media. They fear that they might in some way make a slip that will get them into trouble or make themselves look foolish; once in a great while that does happen. The Chippewa Fire District had a public information officer who made this statement at a fire “The fire was so hot it melted the snow”.
What the guy meant to say was “the fire was so hot it melted the snow 200 yards away” You can see the difference. He was not misquoted he just misspoke. Of course he got the razz. The paper quoted what he said.
Over the years, people have talked to me about speaking with a newspaper or TV reporter. They often say, well, the reporter talked to me for 20 minutes and only used one or two things I said. Or if it is a TV reporter they say, well, we spoke for 20 minutes and they only used 30 seconds of what I said.
I try and explain to those people that there is such a thing as column inches in newspapers and there is about 90 seconds in a typical TV news story. What a reporter uses is often limited by time or space. Unless you are the story you are providing background for a story; these things are two different items.
Rod Stetzer was always a professional. When I watched him work on Chippewa Fire District scenes he always took the time to get the complete story, and the pictures he took were always worthwhile. I know I was not the only person who took notice of Rod’s professionalism.
Many police and fire departments do not like pictures or stories in the newspaper or on TV. As I teach my students in firefighting/investigation/inspections classes is a simple rule: The eyes cannot trespass, or if the emergency happens on a public place and you can see it, so can the general public. Also as most emergency services are funded by public tax dollars the public has the right to know what their tax dollar is paying for.
Over the past couple years, I know Rod’s health kept him from doing things that he liked to do. Yet time after time I saw Rod making his way to the courthouse and at local governmental meetings. I know as the Herald had vacancies, Rod put in longer hours than he probably should have, but that was Rod, dedicated to his job and the community.
The late Andy Rooney of CBS News wrote, “The word journalist is a little pompous, and I will use it only on special occasions.” For Rod’s retirement and service to the Chippewa Valley, I would certainly say that Rod Stetzer is a good man and a very,very good journalist. Have a great retirement, Rod.John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.