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WNN - Lawrence Journal-World - Interviews

Dolph C. Simons Jr.

Chairman, The World Company; Editor, Lawrence Journal-World

Dolph Simons Jr. has been a director of the Associated Press; president of the Kansas Associated Press board of directors; director of the Inland Daily Press Association; director and president of the Kansas Press Association; trustee and board president of the William Allen White Foundation, which works to promote the journalistic ideals of the former Emporia, Kan., newspaper editor; and a Pulitzer Prize juror. He served as a director and board secretary of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (now Newspaper Association of America). He also is a former director of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau Inc.

Under his leadership, the World Company, headquartered in Lawrence, Kan., was until October 2010 one of the most integrated multimedia companies in the nation. At that time, the company sold its broadband division and is now focused on print and digital communication activities.

[KS 0101] - Part 1: Introduction and Contribution (2:53)

Dolph Simons, Jr. started as a newspaper carrier at the Journal-World in 1941. Simons represents the third generation of his family to lead this newspaper since 1891. Simons says The Journal-World is “committed to the community” and “local ownership does provide commitment.” “We’ve tried to put out a good product,” says Simons. “We’ve tried to help Lawrence become a better town and to be honest with our community.”

[KS 0102] - Part 2: Strategic Changes (6:48)

Dolph Simons, Jr., editor and chairman, The Lawrence Journal-World, says his newspaper recently had to reduce its staff and tighten up “to operate more as a sound business operation.” At the same time the newspaper has become “more local.” The newspaper converged its news staff with a cable news service staff it operated. “We trained everybody in the plant … to appreciate and know everybody else’s job,” says Simons. He thinks that broke down internal barriers and improved his newspaper’s productivity. In 2010, The Journal-World sold the cable operation, but it is still practicing the lessons of convergence using its website. “Our job is … accumulating and gathering news and information,” says Simons. “Then we disseminate it in a manner, at a time, at a price … where the consumer wants it.” Overall, Simons hopes to continue his newspaper’s success by offering a quality news product. “I believe that excellence is what’s going to make the difference in just about everything,” says Simons.

[KS 0103] - Part 3: Adaptation & the Future (10:08)

Dolph Simons, Jr., editor and chairman, The Lawrence Journal-World, asks his staff to project what insights they would have about today’s challenges, if they could see them from the perspective of 10-15 years into the future. “What would we see and what would we say to ourselves: Why didn’t we have the courage … to do what we could have done because the opportunity was there?” Of course the challenge is deciding what strategic steps are needed. “We ought to be able to come up with something and act on it now,” says Simons. “And if we can’t do it -- damn it – why not?” Simons finds the returns from digital media, so far, disappointing. “ It’s trading dollars [in newspaper advertising rates] for nickels [in web rates],” he says.

[KS 0104] - Part 4: Preparation (2:50)

Dolph Simons, Jr., editor and chairman, The Lawrence Journal-World, says, “I would like to tell people if they want to come here and work with us … we’re going to hopefully provide them an environment to test their wings and the company will be supportive.”