Building community online and in print

10 Newspapers that Do It Right

Upon returning to Kansas, I used what I’d learned under Rob Curley in Las Vegas and Los Angeles to create a modern news operation in Hutchinson.

I led efforts to add local podcasts and build pages that celebrated what made Hutchinson, Kansas, special, both online and in print. These efforts helped The Hutchinson News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning news operation in a town of 42,000, gain national recognition as one of  Editor & Publisher’s “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” in 2016.

GROWING NEWS

E&P cited a new cooperative Sunday edition that I planned with our circulation manager for Garden City, which had previously published Monday through Saturday. The Garden City Telegram produced a four-page front section, and the News inserted its Sunday edition to bring a local, but comprehensive edition to western Kansas. The Telegram staff produced the content, which we designed and printed in Hutchinson.

ENGAGING COMMUNITY

I also oversaw the building of sites that showed off Hutchinson’s jewels, including the Cosmosphere, a Smithsonian affiliated space museum and science center and the Kansas State Fair.  The Cosmosphere site included short documentaries produced by our team about the Apollo 13 mission and astronaut Michael Collins’ voyage on Gemini X, told from the astronauts and scientists who lived these stories.

One of the most useful and engaging tools we built during this time was an interactive map that helped people navigate the Kansas State Fair, which has been in Hutchinson for more than 105 years.  It increased in popularity every year. Here’s a video explaining how it worked:

How to Use Our Interactive Fair Map

At the news, I build multimedia production with an in-house studio and expanded our reach so we could produce live coverage of community events. Our team used multiple cameras for a professional look of events carried on Facebook Live and YouTube Live, efforts that had not been seen before in this community.

One example is our coverage of a town hall forum on race relations:

And here is a live interview with local victims advocates talking about domestic violence and sexual abuse within our city.

STATEWIDE COVERAGE

After we were purchased by GateHouse, I led an ambitious project that included all the company’s newsrooms in Kansas. We produced a special section on the state’s growing wind energy industry. One of the main aspects of that was the online component that won a national EPPY award for digital excellence. I served as project owner of a talented team that produced The Wind Factor.

Wind Factor web front

RENEWING INTEREST IN PRINT

On the print side, we continued to innovate and deliver information to our readers in creative ways that reminded them of just how special print can be, even in the digital age.

One of the special parts of our city is the annual Smallville Festival. Each year, the city council changes the name of Hutchinson to Smallville, Kansas — the earthly hometown of Superman. On that day, The Hutchinson News became the Smallville News as part of our coverage.

Hutchinson also has a thriving local theater and arts community for a town of its size. During my tenure as editor, the two local community theater groups and the city’s symphony joined in collaboration for the first time for a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” That day, the Hutchinson News became the Anatevka Daily Caller, after the fictional town where the iconic musical takes place.

Another example is how we used our creativity in local sports. For our season preview of high school basketball, we enlisted a local artist’s help — the creator of the Smallville Festival — and made the stars of each of our county teams into comic book covers to celebrate our Hoops Heroes.

All of these projects drove heightened traffic to our web site and the editions with special sections all increased single-copy sales,.

Here is a video that explained how we made the basketball section:

Making of Hoops Heroes

How these projects looked in print:

Hoops Heroes Fairfield
Hoops Heroes Nickerson