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Get to know our new intern

Of the 3,237 photos of Sonja Peterson the News-Chronicle has published, I have to say my favorite appears on Page 5A.

Of the 3,237 photos of Sonja Peterson the News-Chronicle has published, I have to say my favorite appears on Page 5A today. On Sonja's face is more than the joy of having qualified for the state track meet in the 3200-meters. There's also the sign of a just-graduated senior culminating a spectacular high school career in athletics, academics and the arts. She is free, her face says, and a summer of post-high school languor lies ahead before heading off to Yale in August.

I've spoken to Sonja several times over the past few months in gathering information about items in the paper. Either she was involved or knew someone who was. I would kid her that the "Sonja Peterson News-Chronicle" only had her name printed that week. No photo.

No laugh.

Sonja is one serious kid, I thought. She called me Mr. Creger. I've never been called that before.

When I saw this spring that she was part of the Two Harbors High School Envirothon team that made it to state - again - I said she was like that character in the TV show "Glee" who joins all the school groups so she can get maximum exposure in the yearbook.

"I haven't seen that show," she said. She quickly steered me to the subject at hand, apparently without a passing thought about my attempt at humor.

Of course she hasn't seen "Glee." She's been too busy with school stuff to take time out for television.

So what do we have here? Is she a humorless, maybe joyless, automaton, straight-A student who is in extra-curriculars simply to boost her college cred?

Take a look at that picture on Page 5A, or get to know her a little - she does have a sense of humor - and you'll know that any of that conjecture is far from the truth.

Sonja Peterson is a determined and talented student and person. She's also the News-Chronicle intern this summer.

Thanks to the Pohlad Foundation and the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation, Minnesota newspapers can once again enjoy a summer with talented students on their staffs. The internship is a paid one, with costs shared by newspapers and the foundation. It's a blessing to be able to use this tool, especially in such a tough economy.

It's an honor to offer a young person the chance to learn something new and to earn money doing it. It's something we plan to do every summer, so students should be on the lookout when we make the call for applications in 2011.

Call it preservationist, but I take great joy in showing a young person how journalism works given today's doom and gloom about print journalism. This is an important profession, and one that won't go away any time soon, especially for weekly papers. Local news is as important as ever and small newspapers like ours are still viable, and thriving, businesses.

Sonja will learn all about these and other aspects of journalism this summer. She started this week and is enjoying an eclectic job that involves a lot of simply getting out of doors for stories large and small.

Above all, I tell her, "be curious." I doubt that will be a tough gig for her. And given her track record, she will thrive in any new tasks put before her.

I invite readers to let us know what Sonja might cover this summer. Her job is to explore the slices of life in Lake County as we enjoy our fleeting season. We have a list going and want to make it longer so we can eke out every bit of the reporting skill she has already shown.

Look for some stories next week on who's running in Grandma's Marathon June 19. Of course, Sonja will be running the half that day. Despite a call for her to "take it easy," I see we will still have to work around her busy personal life.

My sense is that at the end of the summer, as she makes her way to the ivy of Yale, you'll see a picture of Sonja similar to today's: Pure joy and satisfaction in a job well done.

Welcome her to our staff.

Mike is the editor of the News-Chronicle. Reach him at or 834-2141.