Nick Coleman, 62, a Twins Cities journalist, dedicated a year of his career to covering the US-Dakota Conflict from the Dakota perspective. Photo by Caroline Yang for MPR.
I met Nick Coleman at Dunn Brothers in Longfellow in fall 2013.
Recently diagnosed with narcolepsy and out of the business for three years, I was questioning if abandoning my freshly printed master’s degree for a career in journalism was a good decision, or even a sane one.
Nick had a reputation for being a hard-nosed, demanding and often unpredictable man. He annoyed politicians, pushed back at PR hacks and despised reporters who forgot to bring their backbones to the newsroom.
But his difficult disposition was eclipsed by his incredible ability to write and his stubbornness to continuing the craft of storytelling.
Nick hired me on the spot that afternoon, giving me a rookie position at The Uptake where I cut my teeth as a political reporter. That year, I found my first gray hair.
Perhaps it was our similar penchant to root for the underdog, maybe it was because we both enjoyed a good fight once in awhile. But more than anything, Nick and I shared the mutual belief that journalism — the classic, open-a-vein-and-let-the-words-pour-out journalism — was far more than a means to a meager paycheck but a noble endeavor worth committing to everyday.
Nick is now gone, physically. But his voice of yelling to get back to the mayor’s acceptance speech at 12am during the worst winter blizzard since 1991 remains. So does the knowledge that Nick believed in me enough to give me a chance to live a life with meaning and purpose and fight.
Before we say goodbye to Nick, I urge you to go back and read his work. And then, keep reading. Invest in journalism. Buy a newspaper. Sign up for a subscription. Believe in a future where reporters keep the powerful accountable and amplify the voices of those who aren’t. I know that above all, that’s what Nick would want.
Cheers Nick. Thank you for everything.
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