About the Author
Newspapers have been part of Ray Laakaniemi’s (lock-a-nee-mee) life as long as he can remember.
He learned to read by studying newspapers before he started kindergarten. He had a letter published in “My Weekly Reader” in fourth grade. And, in seventh grade, he applied for a job at the local weekly only to be turned down.
Ray’s first job after college was editing a weekly of 2,000 in Columbus Grove, OH. After military service, he also worked at a daily of 40,000 in Lima, OH.
Ray diversified his experience through publicity work at Ohio Northern University and Adrian college. While at Ohio Northern, he was asked to substitute in the classroom. This experience sparked his interest in teaching, which led to 30 years of college journalism instruction, 22 of them at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. During his teaching career, Ray also worked summers and weekends at the sports and copy desks of the Toledo Blade, circulation 200,000.
While doing writing and consulting work for the Lapeer County Press in Michigan (at the time billed as America's largest rural weekly), Ray became aware of the lack of formal programs to train new reporters at weekly newspapers. Journalism school graduates rarely gravitate to weeklies, and most weeklies rely on local talent to fill their needs.
Thus was born the Weekly Writer's Handbook. Manuscript copies of a proposed book were sent out to 10 readers in the news business across the country. One reader did a review of the manuscript for “Publisher’s Auxiliary,” and the first of 5,500 orders came in 1993.
Books have been sold in all 50 states and every Canadian province except Newfoundland. As a result, Ray has become a highly sought-after speaker. Ray was named a Fulbright lecturer in Estonia and has done workshops in Finland and Lithuania. He also spent six months with his family in Tokyo, serving as a desk editor and writing coach for the Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Ray’s wife, Karen, is a retired certified nurse midwife, and his son, Brian, is an emergency room physician at Louisiana State University Hospitals in Baton Rouge.
Now retired and living in Mayer, MN (30 miles southwest of Minneapolis), Ray's passions include travel and photography. Some of his travel photos are stored at http://gallery.pasty.com/index.php?cat=10336.