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Sorenson, Alfred

Alfred Sorenson (1850-1939) is best remembered as an Omaha newspaperman and author of three histories of Omaha, published in 1876, 1889, and 1924. Some of Sorenson's extensive knowledge of Omaha history dated from his early days on the Omaha Daily Bee, when he worked as city editor under Edward Rosewater. William E. Annin, former associate editor of the Bee, on June 19, 1889, described Sorenson's frenetic pace:

"[Sorenson as] city editor . . . . was expected, with the aid of 'paid locals' to fill five columns daily on the fourth page. He was religious and society reporter, reflector of the doings of the courts and railways, dramatic critic and sporting, fire and commercial editor at one and the same time. His duties began at 6 o'clock in the morning when he commenced to turn in copy for the morning edition, then printed at 7:30 and ended when the news gave out for the day.

"In that interval of from twelve to eighteen hours he was expected to cover, solitary and alone, the twelve scattered square miles of stores and dwellings which ten years ago [in 1879] comprised the bailiwick of Omaha. The early morning round . . . . comprised a rapid visit to the coroner's and undertaker's, the district court, the county clerk's office to transcribe the real estate transfers, an interview with all the city and county officials, as brief usually as a society call, and a hasty return to the editorial rooms in order to write up the material gleaned before noon. This little journey was followed at 12 o'clock by a visit to the depot to take in the overland west bound train, to pump the depot officials and to interview distinguished travelers, real or imaginary. After this another flying trip was made before 2 o'clock to the coroner's and court house, when copy was prepared and handed in [for] the afternoon edition, proof read, visitors received, advance agents of shows entertained and numerous other minor matters attended to.

"After the paper went to press he was often at liberty for the rest of the evening, excepting when a fire broke out or an entertainment presented itself to be reported, . . . Omaha has never seen a reporter with the reportorial 'legs' of Sorenson in the years gone by, when he made the local pages of THE BEE the despairing envy of all competitors."

(November 2001)



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