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Weekly Wave: Variety spices up the news cycle

I’ve been blessed to be in this business for nearly 30 years now and I still marvel at the variety of stories that get published in a given week.

Rick Lubbers is the executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune.
Rick Lubbers
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DULUTH — One of the great joys of a newspaper life is the relatively blank canvas that we work with every day.

Sure, we spend a lot of time planning coverage of events, games or meetings, but sometimes those outcomes can be surprising or breaking news can pop up in the middle of a day’s news lull.

I’ve been blessed to be in this business for nearly 30 years now and I still marvel at the variety of stories that get published in a given week.

Take this installment of Weekly Wave, for instance. The reporters, photographers and digital producers of the Duluth News Tribune, Superior Telegram and Cloquet Pine Journal tackled, among other subjects, a brand-new ship appearing in the Twin Ports, goats munching on invasive species, a mascot makeover that left fans howling, the latest on a pending nurses’ strike, a woman who offers ghost tours in Canal Park and a local celebrity joining the cast of this season’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

That’s just a slice of the stories our journalists produced this week. Thanks, as always, for your readership. I hope you enjoy this week’s collection of stories. Please feel free to reach out to me at rlubbers@duluthnews.com with your comments and suggestions.

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I hope you all have a great weekend.

Here are some DNT highlights from the past week:

New ship ahoy!

Ship nears Duluth.
The Mark W. Barker nears Duluth at 11:17 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Weekly Wave was excited to see the first Twin Ports appearance of the Mark W. Barker — Interlake Steamship Co.’s brand-new 639-foot ship — earlier this week.

Many Twin Ports ship watchers eagerly followed the Barker’s progress toward our port after it was christened in Cleveland on Sept. 1. After all, it’s the first Great Lakes ship to be built by an American company since 1983.

Photographer Steve Kuchera and digital producer Dan Williamson were on hand to capture photos and video of the historic arrival. You can check out the Mark W. Barker’s Twin Ports appearance here.

The new goat graze

A goat grazes in its pen in the Brule River State Forest
A goat grazes in its pen in the Brule River State Forest on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 31, 2022. The goats were brought in by the Wisconsin DNR to help get rid of buckthorn, an invasive species in the forest.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Goats are Mother Nature’s lawnmowers. Put a group of them together and they will graze your wild lawn back to an acceptable length.

Turns out they will do the same thing to a thicket of invasive species, like buckthorn.

The News Tribune sent outdoors reporter John Myers, photographer Jed Carlson and digital producer Wyatt Buckner to Brule recently to witness a herd (“trip” or “tribe” are acceptable, too) of goats munching on all the buckthorn they can eat.

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“They absolutely love buckthorn. They’ll eat that first before anything else. ... And that’s why this idea might just work,’’ said Dan Kephart, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources property manager for the Brule River State Forest.

It’s a buckthorn buffet.

You can learn more about this new goat graze here.

Doggy bagged

Two Bulldog mascot suits, one next to the other, standing on a football field. Mascot on left is grey in color, with number 67 jersey. Mascot on right is yellow, with blank jersey.
The outgoing (left) and incoming Champ mascot suits, as seen in a video posted to social media on Thursday.
Contributed / UMD

Change is hard.

And in the case of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s attempt to update its mascot’s look, it can be downright ruff.

UMD wanted to change the appearance of lovable mascot Champ … give him a shinier coat, face tuck his jowls, and make him a tad more menacing to opposing teams. Champ enthusiastically displayed his makeover on social media hours before the football team’s home contest on Thursday, Sept. 1.

The social media jackals were not amused. They immediately took up torches and pitchforks (the metaphorical kind anyway) and demanded the safe return of their old Champ (pictured above at left). Some thought he looked like a maniacal Winnie the Pooh. An online petition popped up, calling for signatures in favor of old Champ. Messages mysteriously appeared on campus whiteboards spotlighting slogans such as #JusticeforChamp.

I’m surprised Goldy Gopher or Bucky Badger didn’t weigh in.

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Five days later, UMD rolled over and sent the new Champ back to the doghouse and unleashed the old Champ for one more season.

You can relive the unveiling of new Champ here , and read about old Champ’s miracle return here.

Catch a wave

Here are a few more stories from the past week I thought you may enjoy:

Editor's note: Weekly Wave is a newsletter that I publish every Friday morning. Please consider subscribing — it's free — and hits your inbox just once a week. You can sign up here.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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