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The storyteller behind the summer blockbuster 'The Raccoon'

Tim Nelson has reported on 25 years of news in Minnesota. But he never saw a response like the one he got to the story of the MPR Raccoon.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - For 25 years, Tim Nelson has covered the news in the state of Minnesota.

From the Pioneer Press to his current gig at Minnesota Public Radio, Tim has yet to satiate his curiosity on all things St. Paul.

Which makes this whole raccoon story make more sense, knowing it began with Tim.

RELATED: MPR Raccoon removed from UBS roof; released into wild

On Monday afternoon, when Tim saw the rascal perched on a ledge, he began to wonder about its future. And he made some calls.

On Tuesday he made more calls and then witnessed the good-natured but flawed first attempt to free it, which unraveled into the raccoon scaling the UBS building.

Floor by floor Tim watched, and then began to tweet.

“The raccoon is the perfect marriage of an animal story and twitter. It was just, that animal was made for this, that animal was meant for social media,” Tim said enthusiastically, if with a touch of exhaustion, on Wednesday.

Was it ever.

Tim’s first tweet got 2,000 re-tweets and 8,000 likes.

So Tim then knew, for better or for worse, he was on the raccoon beat.

I asked Tim how he explained that to news editors, and he told me he had interviews stacked all day that he just patiently waited through to get back to raccoon duty.

“It's the Aristotelian drama. It has a beginning, middle and end and you can't go on without the third part. You had to see what that third act is,” Tim said.

Tim would go on to report the story with facts and no frivolity on Twitter, waiting for that third act, for nearly 24 hours straight.

“That's my job. My job is to go out and find something interesting and to point journalism at it and hopefully someone will watch,” Tim said.

And watch they did.

The whole world.

Waiting on pins and needles for Tim's every update about a raccoon.

The saga, sure, was frivolous in the grand scheme of things, but it was also something lacking any whiff of insignificance, for it reeked of a common something we all still have inside of us.


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