Beyond the Byline: Kirby criss-crossed the Midwest to build a career in journalism
A little more than a quarter-century ago, Rick Kirby crossed the state line from Indiana to work for Copley Newspapers, returning to Illinois after having spent his rookie year in downstate Albion and West Salem, working for the weekly Independent Times.
Kirby took a B.A. from Indiana State with him to that first job, where he learned that one year at a weekly newspaper is worth four years of college. That first Illinois job had him collecting and writing the news and taking pictures, helping with page production and distributing the newspapers. He even helped set up the press and sold ads.
After a year in the Prairie State, Kirby returned to Indiana, working for 10 years in Anderson at the Herald-Bulletin. During that time, he was among the top recipients of awards for writing from The Associated Press and Hoosier State Press. It also was during those years that newspapers, thanks to computers, went from a typewriter-driven noisy newsroom to an office quiet as a library. While computers are versatile, he found noisy was decidedly more exciting.
A sale of the Herald-Bulletin to a newspaper chain prompted him to look west again, and in 1990 he joined the Copley News Editing Bureau, serving on a copy desk for the company's Chicago suburban newspapers. It was while living in Aurora on the Fox River that the water-loving newsman experienced his first natural disaster: the 1996 Aurora flood, a July night no one from the family will ever forget as water gushed into the basement and pooled around the entire house.
Kirby then worked for a year for Shaw Publications' Kane County Chronicle, then returned to Indiana for nearly two years with the Northwestern Times.
After that it was back to Illinois to help with the heavily zoned Paddock Publications, where he has been with the Daily Herald for 15 years, now in the role of directing the paper's wire coverage of state, national and world events.