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CBT taught through example and guidance

Jul 27, 2012 - By Pat Schmidt

It may have changed later, but I know that when the District 25 school board went into executive session in the 1970s, Carolyn didn't have to leave the room.

Back in the old days, international and national news came to daily newspapers like The Ranger via newswire service from Associated Press or United Press International.

Because that news copy arrived around the clock, the newswire machine typed it on a nearly endless piece of paper that unfolded out of a box.

That AP paper reminds me of one of the most amazing things about Carolyn Butler Tyler. Her productivity.

Limited to her chair for much of the workday by her braces, she used a box of AP paper below her typewriter to produce one story after another. Whenever her reporters weren't turning in enough stories to keep the people who typeset the news busy, they would stop by Carolyn's desk and tear off several feet of stories for that day's newspaper.

She did it by using a telephone headset long before headsets became the vogue, keeping her hands free to type with machine-like precision all the information she was gathering by phone from her sources around Fremont County, as well as from people stopping by.

Perhaps it was because of that headset that she could speak "dispatcher talk" so well. I can remember one occasion when a dispatcher in another part of Fremont County mistook her for the Riverton PD dispatcher and identified the name of the jailed suspect.

I'm certain she and some of her admirers, Sheriff PeeWee McDougall and county coroner Larry Lee, had quite a laugh about the FBI trying to figure out how that information had leaked to the local newspaper.

They and other sources trusted her as much as any reporter or editor I have known. How much? It may have changed later, but I know that when the District 25 school board went into executive session Carolyn didn't have to leave the room. In fact, with her decades of covering the school board Carolyn was the one person who instantly could recall the history behind past decisions for the current board members.

How's that for trust?!

Carolyn was dogged in her determination to get the news accurately, and "modern" reporters who arrived every year or so occasionally questioned her ethics, at least those that caught on to some of her methods.

You see, one of Carolyn's greatest skills was gleaning the best news from other conversations in a room. It bothered me that she could visit with me at a restaurant while simultaneously listening to the county commissioner and mayor two tables away. It was the same at meetings.

She didn't immediately use the information in a story; instead she contacted the people involved and used her newfound information to pry out the entire story that so many reporters miss. And she did it ethically.

Carolyn was the first editor I worked for after graduating from the University of Wyoming, an institution she considered inferior to her University of Nebraska.

However, because I was trained by Carolyn and knew how to dig for a story, I can reveal the answer to a question that even Dennis Tippets, that dogged Colorado University fan, must have wondered about while making some of those legendary Nebraska-CU football bets.

I'm certain Dennis had been to some of those Nebraska bowl game parties at Carolyn and Bob's house featuring all that Big Red paraphernalia. Go Big Red plates, cups, banners, cakes, food and hats were everywhere. Even the toilet paper had "Go Big Red!" on it!

She would be attired in a Nebraska red and white outfit adorned with Nebraska decorations. I certain Dennis and others must have wondered just how deep her loyalty went. Did Carolyn even wear Big Red emblazoned undies? Today I will reveal to you the answer. On one unfortunate occasion I heard Carolyn calling for help from her bathroom. Bob wasn't nearby, and it didn't bother her to have me carefully lift her from the floor and help her get things straight, but it did bother her that I am the one informed source who can report to you that Carolyn didn't have Big Red underwear on that day!

A bunch of people who became newspaper publishers trained under Roy and Bob Peck and Carolyn and Bob Tyler, including Dave Bonner, Ron Lytle, Gretchen Berning, Steve Schenk, Eric Adams, Joe Sova and me.

There we learned the value of cooperation and what later came into fashion as being part of a team.

An example. One morning just a couple of hours before deadline, an earthquake hit Fremont County. I was the only reporter on duty that day but the two of us teamed on deadline to put together a tremendous story.

Hollering back and forth across the room to avoid duplication we started calling our sources to determine who had felt the quake and whether there was any damage. Based on what we had learned we would shout out another person we were contacting. Law enforcement. People in all the Fremont County communities and schools. The railroad. I still remember a Bureau of Reclamation employee telling me about standing at the bottom of Boysen Dam as he felt the vibrations! Carolyn's quotes were just as good.

My stint at the Ranger lasted about five years, but almost every time we met over the next three decades Carolyn would recall our teamwork on that occasion.

And my praise for her was just as lavish, especially since I'm certain the amount of paper the copy setters tore off from her typewriter that day had much more information than the many individual sheets I produced.

I know because one time Carolyn couldn't convince Bob Peck, who was always ready to give people a second chance, that his latest hire wasn't doing enough work. At the end of the week, Carolyn produced a total inches of copy produced by every reporter. Hers was in the hundreds, and I was relieved to be close to Bob in second place. The "reporter" in question had written something over 30 inches in five days of work. (Bob, of course, didn't fire the man; he became an ad salesman.)

Often reporters use "-30-" to signal the end of a story, just the way they were taught to in college or at a big city daily. But when copy setters, at least in the early 1970s, were separating that long, long piece of paper produced by Carolyn into stories, they looked for Carolyn's personalized ending at the end of each (story). It wasn't "-30-." It was "-CBT-".

In honor of Carolyn Butler Tyler's service to the newspaper profession in Wyoming and Nebraska, especially in Fremont County, I would like to use her closing.

-CBT-

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Editor's note: Former Ranger sports editor Pat Schmidt later was publisher of the Lovell Chronicle and the Thermopolis Independent Record.

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