The Lawrence Journal-World media center is located in a remodeled U.S. Post Office building at the corner of Seventh Ave. and New Hampshire St., in Lawrence, Kan.
Dolph Simons, Jr. chairman of The World Co. and editor of the Lawrence Journal-World is known for his willingness to experiment. In 1971, The World Co. initiated service for its new cable television franchise in Lawrence, Kan. (Click on Story of the Newspaper.) By 2001, the Journal-World was combining print, television and Internet newsgathering into one newsroom. They became the “acknowledged leader in convergence journalism,” according to the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The Journal-World won three consecutive Associated Press Managing Editor Convergence Awards (2007- 2009).
Now Simons is frustrated. He wonders what opportunities would be obvious if 10 to 15 years out he could look back on the 2011 newspaper business. “What would we say to ourselves? Why didn’t we have the courage… vision… backbone? Why weren’t we willing to put the money into it [an experiment] to do what we could have done because the opportunity was there?” “I don’t want that to happen to us,” says Simons, and he encourages staff to be alert for opportunities.
Although World Co. sold the cable system in 2010, having TV in the newsroom “helped us learn how to use video,” says Managing Editor Dennis Anderson. Reporters all have iPhones with video capability. They can edit and they “know how to be comfortable in front of the camera,” says Anderson. “We can do it [video] any way we think it’s best to tell the story.” Finding the “best way to tell the story,” drives newsroom decisions. (Click on Enterprise Stories for examples.)
Asst. Director of Media Strategy Jonathan Kealing identifies what he thinks will be the best sources of new revenue in the next couple of years (Click on the Backgrounder for information on the Journal-Worlds’ digital operation):
- Deals and contests
- Video, because rates are higher than on text ads
- Topical niche websites such as LJWorld.com, KUSports.com, Lawrence.com, SunflowerHorizons.com, and WellCommons.com (Click on Nieman Report “Health Draws a Community Together Online”
- Social media such as game day specials advertised on social media and teaching advertisers how to use social media to their advantage
Click on Journalists’ Epiphanies (J-Epiphanies on the toolbar) to hear anecdotes from Simons, Anderson and Kealing about when the power and purpose of journalism became clear to them.
Coming Next in the Plains States series: the Aurora (Neb.) News-Register, the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette, and the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times.
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-- Sara Brown and Paul Steinle