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Politico’s VandeHei Gets Hometown Treatment

You don’t think Politico‘s Exec. Editor Jim VandeHei got that distinctive Oshkosh, Wis. accent from nowhere do you?

We discovered this recent gem of a story on VandeHei on the front page above the fold of his hometown newspaper, The Brillion News. It’s not the Jeremy Peters treatment of the NYT like usual. But it’ll do. Other stories on the day the VandeHei profile published: Area wrestlers going to state and website to supplement area news coverage.

To say the folksy story on VandeHei is gushing is insulting. They revere him like a hometown war hero. They start out boldly positive and build up to positively glowing: “Jim VandeHei is on the cutting edge of journalism today,” writes Ed Byrne in the lede. But they do have legitimate bragging rights. “He may be on journalism’s cutting edge now but VandeHei cut his teeth much earlier, when he got his start in 1993 as the editor of The Brillion News.”

At the time, VandeHei had applied for an unpaid internship and they made him editor. His new boss, Zane Zander, paid him $300 a week, let him stay at the family lakeside cottage with a fridge full of beer. VandeHei calls it a “fabulous experience.” He’d work, go bass fishing and “have a cold one.”

An excerpt: “I’d barely taken a journalism class and they were in a pinch and needed an editor,” VandeHei said. “The editor at the time was going to take the whole summer off, and so [the Zanders] basically let me run the whole paper for a summer – and I had no experience whatsoever. They taught me how to run a paper.”

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