Bill Knutson devoted 36 years to The Post-Crescent in Appleton and its readers in the Fox Valley. Starting as a police-fire-courts reporter in 1965, he rose by his skill to serve as managing editor for 18 years before he retired in February 2002. He suffered a fatal heart attack seven months later.
Knutson was highly regarded in the Wisconsin newspaper industry for his reporting and editing expertise as well as overseeing newsroom activities of reporters, photographers and other editors. He served as president of the Wisconsin Associated Press Managing Editors organization in 1990-91, and in 2002 was recipient of the Dion Henderson Award for service to the AP. His work also was commemorated by the Wisconsin Legislature.
Knutson was known as a “reporter’s editor” because of how he started his career and the emphasis he placed on timely, accurate local news. He began his journalism in the early 1960s as a reporter in his hometown Rhinelander Daily News before moving to Appleton. At The Post-Crescent he worked as reporter, columnist, weekend editor and managing editor, as well as two stints as acting editor.
At his retirement, Knutson was described as the “backbone” of his newsroom: “Bill simply believed in the necessity and responsibility of a free press. He defended it against every measure of ignorance and arrogance, and managed to win the respect of the community in the process. Bill’s reporting was instinctual and organic, and it touched a chord with generations of readers.â”