Job Shadow with Tony Lonetree

Years ago at the University of Minnesota, a young student knew he wanted to be a journalist. Tony had already been a writer for a long time.

“Once I saw that I was being published it was kind of exciting and I thought, maybe I will pursue this. That was when I was a sophomore and was pretty much headed this way the whole time.”

Covering concerts and the local music scene was where Tony Lonetree got his start in journalism as a sophomore in high school. From there he covered many different beats and now is responsible for reporting on the St. Paul public schools.


Tony working on a story at the bureau in Woodbury, MN.

The day started at the bureau in Woodbury where Tony works when not out talking to sources or attending meetings. The StarTribune suite was a small area on the end of a professional building, and seamed a bit tucked away for a news bureau. Tony explained that they were relocated in attempts to spread out (readership) in the area and compete against other newspapers.

The rest of the day consisted of a meeting with a source and a visit to St. Paul City Hall

The meeting was with Toya Stewart Downey, who works for the St. Paul schools, and was also a journalist before going back to school for her masters degree.

The meeting took place in a small and busy Starbucks. There was a very relaxed atmosphere throughout the whole exchange, and Tony got some very interesting information for a new story. The teachers union, with support from parents, made recent changes to class sizes among other things, but now parents may not be able to send their kids to the school that they wanted. Tony asked a few questions to gather necessary facts, and set up a meeting with another school employee who could help him learn more.

Next stop, City Hall.

After passing security, it was time to check out a committee meeting. Tony walked to the back of the room and checked the minutes explaining what the committee was discussing. After deciding it wasn’t something to sit and observe, Tony headed to the exit, until he suddenly turned and entered what appeared to be a closet. Behind a second door built into the back of the closet, was a small media room complete with battered old computers, never ending piles of precariously stacked papers, and a few journalists hard at work.

When asked what thought was the best advice for someone wishing to become a journalist, Tony said the best thing to do is to write.

“Whenever you have the opportunity to do it, do whatever you can to start building up clips, even if you’re not getting paid for it.”

On the way back to the office, tony stopped in a record shop to check out local releases, still the same writer as he was all the way back in high school.

Mike Volk

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