To borrow from my “cuz” Chris Young, “This Ain’t No Joke.” As with his and Melody Spurney’s first “Ain’t No Joke Food Truck Rally” in Newton on April 1, yet another life moment has happened for me on this date.
Six years ago, April 1, 2014, it was publically announced that I had secured majority ownership of Kansas Publishing Ventures from Joel Klaassen and merged our tiny weekly paper with his publishing company in Hillsboro.
Today, April 1, 2020, I get just under the wire and am featured as one of Editor and Publisher’s 25 Under 35, which will appear in their monthly magazine sent to publishers and editors all over the world. I’ll link the digital version here: https://www.editorandpublisher.com/feature/25-under-35-meet-the-rising-stars-in-todays-news-industry/
But I really care far more about the printed version I’ll hopefully get in the mail soon.
I just can’t keep April 1 out of my life, apparently.
Maybe it’s because this all feels like some kind of joke. Of the 25 young professionals that were featured, there were only two without a bachelor’s degree. Hutchinson Community College is the only traditional education I received in journalism prior to taking my first job as a reporter in Halstead. Thanks for the gig, Robb.
Today, Kansas Publishing Ventures owns that paper I started at and several others, as well as one we even started: Newton Now.
Part of it feels like a joke because we didn’t inherit a newspaper company. We didn’t have a rich uncle buy it for us, either. We scraped and clawed to get enough money for a downpayment for The Clarion on a teacher’s salary and one of a layout person at The Hutchinson News. In other words, there is no pedigree here.
My parents didn’t gift me a newspaper company, but they did gift me work ethic through example, and I can always appreciate that.
As I look at the questions again, I would have rather answered something different, but I am not one to complain. So when the question about what sports team I would model a newsroom after came up, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I had to have a little fun with it. I must have known the announcement would come on April 1 deep in my lizard brain or something.
While I truly mean what I wrote (and loved that team) but could have found a team in any sport to model what I wanted to say, I picked the Final Four Shockers for one reason and one reason only: I knew it would annoy the person Lindsey and I hired over beers at Wichita Brewing Company so many years ago, our Newton Now managing editor, Adam Strunk. He was the first person that we ever hired, and I am happy he is still with us.
In fact, he is one of the best people on our team (we have an incredible one, so that is more of a compliment than it sounds) and someone I have always appreciated and deserves to be on that list more than I do. He is a huge Kansas Jayhawks fan, and I figured if I could poke a little at him, I would. I certainly do whenever I can.
The Shockers kind of annoy most Jayhawk fans. I think it’s funny. They hate Missouri the most, but WSU fans might annoy them more than anyone.
So, Strunk, pick a player. You can be the scrappy, work-hard Ron Baker or Fred Van Fleet… Your eye roll when you read this means more to me than you know.
Finally, the feature doesn’t really lend itself to me. I wasn’t designed to be on that list, as I know several people in our own company who I would have picked prior to myself.
Those folks who make up our team are those who propped me up to be featured in this section. Our team and how we pull together–even during a global pandemic–to get the news out each week and find a way to pay for it is the only reason I am where I am today.
Truth is, I feel very lucky despite the hardships, the low times, and the shit breaks. Through my now seven-year journey in this ownership business, I have learned that cultivating a team is more important than anything else.
Through work ethic and having the best team anyone could ask for, I sit here reading a list I was put on and shaking my head. Maybe it’s not a joke.