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Dieterle leaves a legacy of 30-plus years of work at the DI

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | MAY 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Daily Iowan newsroom no longer has the haze of smoke from frantic writers clacking away at manual typewriters and lighting cigarettes.

But despite the small differences and major shifts in journalism, Caroline Dieterle has remained a constant fixture at the DI since September 1977.

Dieterle has served as DI librarian and archivist for more than 35 years.

At the end of this semester, the archivist position at the DI will come to an end as the archives have moved to a digital format.

In 1977, she applied, but got no response. She  returned to the newsroom countless times before she finally got her answer.

“Finally, the editor said, ‘Look, I’ll show you what the problem is — I don’t think you’ll want this job,’ ” she recalled. “He showed me the library … and it was piled up with photographs and back issues of the paper, and they said the previous librarian had the whole thing get away from him.”

Despite the large task, Dieterle took the job, and devised a system to clip, cut, and file each story for each author and photographer. In the days before computers, she also created a daily index for writers on small hand-typed index cards.

Dieterle said the DI welcomed her, and Publisher William Casey told her they would accept anyone with a good attitude.

The Daily Iowan staff treated me the same as ever, and Bill said anybody can work here as long as they’re not an asshole,” she said. “You know, over the years I have had some pretty strong opinions and worked on a bunch of campaigns; there has never been any flack from anybody here about how I should shut up … because it was a place where people respected free speech and the idealism of the Fourth Estate.”

Daughter Jennie Embree said Dieterle is especially sad to lose her chance to interact with students.
“The thing about the DI is it was such a flexible job, and she was able to juggle it with the other interests and able to without it being too stressful,” Embree said. “She always said being around the students is what keeps her young.”

Throughout her time, Dieterle fondly remembers many activities with the college-age staff, including resounding defeats of the Iowa City Press-Citizen at softball and canoe races on the river.
Casey said he’s witnessed the digitization of media operations replace several staff positions over the years. Casey said Dieterle’s work will undoubtedly be missed.

“Even in the digital era of archives, we’ll probably never have them as well-organized as she did,” he said.

She has witnessed changes firsthand as The Daily Iowan print edition has become smaller, and the newsroom a much less busy version of its former self — many reporters work from other locations.

“One of the saddest things for me is that even worse than being redundant and losing my job, because they don’t need me anymore, is the fact the paper has become so much smaller and the print edition is so less important anymore,” she said.

Dieterle said she will miss the atmosphere in the newsroom, despite the fact that it has changed so much in her nearly 36 years of work.

“I’m not [retiring]. I am being made redundant here with what is being made with technology,” she said. “I would be happy enough to file the paper indefinitely as long as I was healthy enough to drag myself down to the newsroom.”


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