Award-winning local journalists, including the author of Prairie Notebook


Recently, two journalists from local outdoor media were recognized for their writing at a ceremony hosted by the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) at their conference in Michigan. The Awards-In-Craft went to Bret Amundson of Milan, who hosts Pioneer PBS’s The Prairie Sportsman, and Tom Watson, author of Montevideo-American News’ regular column, Prairie Notebook.

A press release from AGLOW notes that Amundson has won several awards, including, in the Broadcast / Electronic Media division, in the TV, Video, Webcast or Vlog category, 1st prize in the Open category and 2nd in the Hunting category. and fishing. categories. Additionally, Amundson received a “hat trick” in the Radio / Podcast division, taking 1st place in the Hunting, Fishing and Open categories. Amundson also placed 3rd in the Fishing “Best of Photography” category. With all these victories, he also received the “Best of Show” award from print or electrical media.

Tom Watson was awarded the third prize in the Fishing category of the “Best of Magazine” division as well as the 2nd place in the Outdoor Scenic “Best of Photography” category.

Watson started writing Prairie Notebook in 2015. “I went to see Leslie at the Appleton newspaper and I said, hey, I have the idea of ​​doing some kind of natural and outdoor news column if you want to. interested, ”says Watson. The editor of the newspaper was, so the column began appearing in the Appleton newspaper first. After a few years, Watson decided to widen the column and approached the Montevideo-American News to also run the column with extended information to include more local content for Montevideo readers. Since then, the column has been weekly. This is not Watson’s only handwriting. As a freelance journalist, he has published a number of articles, some regularly and others ad hoc in national magazines and newspapers. “I write for several websites. I write a column in a few outdoor newspapers. I do stuff for national magazines when opportunities arise, ”says Watson. “I work as a freelance writer, so you always pick projects when and where you can. In addition, Watson has published several guides for the outdoors and independence. “I lived in Alaska so my outdoor experience was heavy. Off-piste rescue, autonomy and sea kayaking. I write a lot of articles on these subjects for specialized magazines on these subjects. I worked in the travel industry for several years, so I write travel articles every now and then, ”he says.

Watson decided to embark on freelance journalism as a means of publishing work and being able to enter writing contests with writing legitimized by publication. “As a freelance writer, if you don’t have a publication to base your writing on, you’re at the mercy of anyone who wants to print your stories,” he notes. He overcomes this problem by keeping abreast of which publications are accepting work, knowing what type of work they are accepting, and then doing his advocacy for submissions to them. Watson also belongs to two writers’ organizations – the Outdoor Writers Association of America, a national group, and the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. “I have been fortunate to have submitted a winning photo in eight of the past ten years,” he says of his AGLOW membership. “It allows me to grow financially and it adds to the credibility of my freelance freelance writing so that when I submit a work to an editor, I can use that recognition as validation of my credentials.”

Her love of writing began in fifth grade, and Watson credits her teacher, Ms. Mead, at a Minneapolis elementary school, with her early interest. “I was a bit of a nerdy kid with a butch haircut and glasses all through school, but I liked the whimsy. I loved watching The twilight zone on TV. I loved reading this stuff – Bradbury and Asimov, and all those guys. Due to my taste for English, my fifth grade teacher took about five of us from the class and made them a special writing group. She encouraged us to write every week and offered us different themes. I enjoyed it. It felt good when one of my stories was selected to be read in class, ”he says. He continued to love and practice writing and as an adult wrote an article for a Minneapolis newspaper that was published. “I thought it was pretty cool. I started to write other things and evolved to work for the old one Twin City Reader in Minneapolis. I had a column there and wrote for them. I did projects and things on my own, and then it led me to more journalism. This included everything from production to the chief photographer, art director, even editing a newspaper in Alaska and being a featured travel writer for one of their business journals. . It kind of evolved, ”he says. “It allows me to take my imagination, strange as it may sound at times, and see what it can do and it all worked out in areas where I could feel comfortable.”

The internet is a major factor enabling Watson to engage in freelance journalism while living on the prairie of southwest Minnesota. “I’m on the internet three to four hours a day doing research, corroborating things, and using it to send my stories so people can see what I’ve been up to. To be honest, the biggest challenge here is having enough to write locally. I do 52 Prairie Notebook columns a year, so the challenge is to find things that are hopefully informative and entertaining. Part of that, too, is staying humble enough to realize that people are reading you because they want to. Not because you are some sort of great poet or sage with academic knowledge. It’s just that you have things that you want to share with people, ”he says.

Watson has also traveled extensively. “I have always liked to travel. I spent a month in the Yucatan hiking. I spent a month in Peru. I went to Honduras for kayaking. I lived on Kodiak Island in Alaska and had a kayaking business there. After seeing so much in the world, Watson enjoyed a variety of landscapes, but always says there is a subtlety about the prairie in the area that is worth appreciating. “I appreciate that we are in the prairie and that we have a fairly extensive river network. I have always loved geology and appreciate that there are so many exterior geological figures like the Big Stone area. The fact that we have so many meadows, birds and woodland animals, open skies to watch at night… all those little niceties here. I have a nephew who has never seen the Milky Way because he lives in the Cities. I can stand on my patio and see the Milky Way. The subtle richness of things here… it’s not the big splash, it’s the subtlety. Our “big splashes” are sunsets over the prairies that you don’t get anywhere else, ”he says.

Locals may also recognize Watson from some musical performances he has performed in the area, playing occasionally in local venues at open mic parties and during Appleton’s Music in the Park series. . Most of the time, however, Watson says he is recognized locally for his Prairie Notebook column, appreciating the feedback he receives from the public on his work. The Prairie Notebook column is published weekly in the Montevideo-American News on the opinion page.

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