The real story about Rick Bussler
As I attended the memorial service for my former publisher Chuck Warner in Brownton this past weekend, I came across something that he had written about me a few years ago.
If there were ever any questions about my background and commitment to community journalism, perhaps reading what Mr. Warner wrote will help clarify. He was truly a giant in the newspaper industry across Minnesota for many years. I was fortunate to work alongside of him for about five years when I broke into the business as an eighth grader.
This is what Warner shared about me in 2013:
Hardworking, inquisitive, fearless, visionary, bulldog.
Yes, these identify Rick Bussler.
Rick was an eighth grader when he learned the Brownton Bulletin’s photographer would be leaving for college. Never lacking in confidence, he popped into the office and offered his services.
Cliff and June, his parents, were well known throughout the community as hardworking, straight-shooting, dedicated people. Their Bussler Durocs not only annually walked off with grand champion honors at the McLeod County Fair, they constantly earned top honors with their hogs at the Minnesota State Fair—and sold many animals on the international market. They were pillars in the 4-H and held leadership positions in the state Duroc association and the county fair organization. June is a long-time employee of the award-winning McLeod County Chronicle in Glencoe.
One might say, Rick has good genes.
The Bulletin had a string of hard-working, award-winning, fun-loving photographers. Rick stepped right in, not only following their footsteps, but he took the department to another level. Imitation is the highest forum of flattery and picking up where those ahead have moved and improving on what’s left you, is a single achievement.
Rick excelled with the camera. The first few weeks he’d receive his assignment and get the job done. Soon he was coming up with his own ideas, first with sports photography but soon with general news shots as well. One of the Bulletin’s trademarks was a quarter-page picture on the front page. Didn’t take long and Rick would come up with outstanding ideas for this shot.
Back in those days, in our small shop, the photographer not only took the shots. He also developed the film, made the determination as to the size of the pictures and then printed them.
Soon the young shutterbug branched out into writing. His sports stories featured coaches’ quotes, solid statistics, and interesting narrative. Once in a while he got pretty long-winded, but once he was shown what was unnecessary he quickly put on the brakes.
All too many reporters and photo people tend to be timid about getting close to the action. Rick wasn’t. Many of his sports pictures seemed to put the reader right in the middle of action.
Rick had the vision to mentally layout what the reader would like and then the tenacity to finish the job. He saw the potential in a story and he’d stick with it until it was successfully completed. He was a real bulldog. A true hard worker.
Each year the Minnesota Newspaper Association conducts its Better Newspaper Contest. There were over 300 weekly newspapers in the state. With Rick playing a solid role the Brownton Bulletin, in 1984, became the first weekly from a small town—less than 800 population and less than 1,200 circulation—to win the Mills Award and be named the top weekly paper in Minnesota.
I’m proud to say Rick Bussler got his start in newspapering at my shop. It’s great to see him continue in the trade.
Chuck Warner, Former publisher of Brownton Bulletin
And I’m proud to say that I worked for Chuck Warner, one of the greatest small town newspaper publishers Minnesota has ever experienced. He truly has left behind a great legacy.
It’s now time for me to go in hot pursuit of living up to Chuck’s expectations of putting out a first class, quality newspaper.