A heavenly trip: Farewell from Christy Olsen Field

Photo: Karen Groseth Wahlstrom

By Christy Olsen Field

Managing Editor

It’s fair to say that I have invested myself in my job more than most people do, which makes for sweeter victories and challenging lows. It also makes it harder to envision my life without the Norwegian American Weekly, but that day has come. As of Nov. 2, I am stepping down as  Managing Editor of the Norwegian American Weekly, and my colleague Kelsey Larson will be taking over as Editor.

This is a decision that I have not taken lightly, and it seemed unimaginable 12 months ago. I still have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but I know this is the right step for me, and I am more confident than ever that the Norwegian American Weekly has a bright future ahead of it.

I joined the Norwegian American Weekly in July 2008 as Copy Editor, Subscriptions Manager and front desk person. I had no previous design / professional writing / advertising sales / newspaper experience – but I loved Norway and writing. In March 2009, I took the editor position. Now, I have 200 issues with my name on the masthead. My roles as Subscriptions Manager and Managing Editor have been truly rewarding, and I’m honored to have served the Norwegian-American community in this capacity.

Working for a 123-year-old ethnic newspaper is an unusual choice for a first job out of college, but I’m glad I took a leap of faith. We work on a shoestring budget with very limited human resources, but we have more than enough material to put in the newspaper every week – a terrific problem to have!

There are far more people who play an important role in the Norwegian American Weekly than just our paid staff. I am thankful every day for our contributing editors, who volunteer their time and energy to share Norwegian-American stories and ideas. We couldn’t do this without your dedication to the Norwegian American Weekly! I appreciate our advertisers, whose partnerships make this a sustainable enterprise. And our beloved readers, so many of whom I have gotten to know over the years, your sustained commitment to the Norwegian American Weekly makes this job a worthy effort every single day. Thank you for keeping this tradition alive!

Many staff members have come and left in my four years here, and I learned early on that the Norwegian American Weekly is so much bigger than the individuals who put it together. I would like to thank my inner circle of support: Kim Nesselquist, for believing in me from the beginning and your vision and support along every step of the way. Krystn Nesselquist, for your wise insight and boundless encouragement. Tiffanie Davis, for teaching me the tools to succeed in this position and setting the best example. Harry Svenkerud, for catching my mistakes and your sense of humor, which makes Monday press days more fun. And to

Kelsey Larson, for your wonderful friendship and willingness to take the helm as editor.

In my first few months as editor, Rigmor Swensen of the Norwegian Immigration Association in New York sent me a copy of “Written in the Sand” by Carl Søyland, the long-time editor of Nordisk Tidende in New York who described himself as “a wanderer who became an associate in a Norwegian-American newspaper.”

His memoir is fascinating, but there is one moment in particular that resonated with me and has guided my editorship. The editor of Stavanger Aftenblad said the Søyland and his staff at the Nordisk Tidende were doomed to fail in their mission of the Norwegian-American press. Søyland’s response?

“…The feeling of working for an eternal goal is probably an illusion for every newspaper. Doesn’t every new edition have its hectic one-day life of a fly? Don’t we all write in the sand? If one is striving for a personal career in the Norwegian press, one is certainly ‘doomed to fail,’ but very few Norwegian-American newspapermen have such illusions. They are probably more ready to say, ‘If I sail my boat aground, it was at least a heavenly trip.’”

Thank you, readers of the Norwegian American Weekly, for a trip of a lifetime.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 26, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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