There's a joke journalists have used in 2020: This year has been the longest decade of my life.

Some days, it feels like we've been stuck in a time warp when you consider the major events of the year: The COVID-19 pandemic and the most contentious election in recent memory on top of our "normal" areas of coverage.

Instead of running through the "top" stories of 2020, I asked Jed Carlson, Maria Lockwood and Shelley Nelson to write about the stories that stayed with them this year.

Maybe it was a story they had never covered before, or something unexpected happened during the interview; maybe the story started out in one direction and turned out completely different; or maybe it's one they just really enjoyed.

No one knows the community the way they do, and it's the experience, knowledge and empathy they convey through their work that make our reporting strong.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

I've linked to their columns below:

Here are a few of my favorites:

As a reporter, I often had to shoot photos to accompany my stories, first in Watertown, Wisconsin, and later in Appleton. It gave me an appreciation for the time photographers put into their craft and how hard it can be to get a great shot.

Because of that, I've also had the chance to ask questions and learn from the photographers I worked with.

I think that's why I enjoyed a few columns Jed wrote this year with the stories behind some of his photographs. From stumbling upon a beaver swimming in the St. Louis River to slowing down his shutter speed to capture images at Pattison State Park, Jed's pieces gave us a look into how he captures images.

A beaver swims off the shore of Billings Park in Superior on May 12. The beaver would slap its tail on the calm water before diving under to emerge in a new spot. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
A beaver swims off the shore of Billings Park in Superior on May 12. The beaver would slap its tail on the calm water before diving under to emerge in a new spot. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

A couple stands on the edge of the Little Manitou Falls as the Black River flows through Pattison State Park Sunday, Oct. 11. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
A couple stands on the edge of the Little Manitou Falls as the Black River flows through Pattison State Park Sunday, Oct. 11. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

RELATED: Jed Carlson column: Shoreline surprise

RELATED: Jed Carlson column: A secret spot at Pattison State Park

Shelley's coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak at Superior Rehabilitation was powerful.

She had been working on that story for quite a while before a local TV station broke it. While I was disappointed we didn't break the news first, I didn't want to rush it, either. Big, complex stories require careful reporting and editing. The final version answered many questions I had about how COVID-19 deaths are reported and why the county's figures seemed to be ahead of what the state was reporting.

Shelley's story also showed the human toll of the virus. Covering this pandemic every day, it can be easy to focus on the numbers and lose track of the people those numbers represent. Shelley's story didn't do that — Judith Gregoire, who lost her husband to COVID-19, spoke with Shelley, and her comments made the story stronger.

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Superior Rehabilitation claims 9 lives

RELATED: Superior Honor Guard pays respects to service dog, Sarge

One of the stories I keep coming back to is about the life and death of Sarge the dog. If you ask my husband, he'll tell you I haven't been able to watch a movie where a dog dies since we got our dog in 2019. I know one day she'll leave us, but until then, I don't want to think about it.

So it would seem contrarian that out of the hundreds of stories Maria wrote in 2020, this is the one that sticks with me. I remember asking when she first pitched the story if Sarge was well-known. Maria, Shelley and Jed immediately said yes — everyone knew Sarge.

After reading the story, I realized how deep his ties to the community were. Even though it's a sad story, it's one that lodged in my heart, and maybe, just maybe, will get me to watch a movie focused on a dog one day. I can't make any promises, though.

Cooper Elementary students pet Sarge after a flag raising ceremony by members of the American Legion Richard I. Bong Post 435 Honor Guard during Veterans Day Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Sarge died this year, but members of the Honor Guard say they'll always remember how goofy and gentle he was. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Cooper Elementary students pet Sarge after a flag raising ceremony by members of the American Legion Richard I. Bong Post 435 Honor Guard during Veterans Day Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Sarge died this year, but members of the Honor Guard say they'll always remember how goofy and gentle he was. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Lastly, I want to thank our subscribers.

During a year when many people suffered financially because of the pandemic, your support is especially meaningful. Thank you for supporting local journalism.