Two years of Newton Now

Two years of Newton Now

There wasn’t one person, outside of Joel Klaassen (founding publisher of The Hillsboro Free Press) that thought we would succeed long-term with Newton Now.

We got a lot of support early. I love these people more than you can know. They wanted us to succeed, but I could see it in many eyes as we told them our plan to launch a competitive weekly newspaper in a market that had a 5-day corporate newspaper. They were going to support us. They hoped we would succeed, but they didn’t expect it. Just wasn’t something people did. Could you blame them? Of course not.

Well, here we are staring at two years established in Newton, KS and while things haven’t gone as I expected we are still standing, thriving, and growing.

We have had two people leave during this fight. Our first Sports Editor and our second Sports Editor are gone or leaving the company, both out of the industry (sports chews people up and spits them out).

Everyone one else is still standing and ready for more.

On the other hand, our competition has gone through five publishers/general managers, countless support staff and reporters, and really leans on a dedicated yet surely beaten down managing editor that carries their operation without question. We wish him nothing but the best I assure you. He is good for Newton.

This newspaper war started for two main reasons.

  1. We thought Newton deserved great journalism. Something that required skill, time, and consistancy. That is why we recruited Wendy Nugent to our team and moved Adam Strunk from one of our papers to head Newton Now. They are rocks and bring it every week.
  2. There was this massive market that was underserved (Newton) in between our other papers, The Clarion and The Hillsboro Free Press. Sure would make sense to connect those papers and have a unified company… right?

We have broken some massive stories and done reporting that wouldn’t have been done without our presence. There was a six-month investigation into an economic development deal gone wrong.

Currently, we are doing a series on a man who found out he has cancer and is going through treatments. Wendy is walking people through his process and what it is like. It is intensely powerful.

The piece of reporting I am most proud of came from Adam though. He dug further than everyone else on what happened when the City of Newton fired their long-time city manager, and found a lot of crazy stuff. Enough stuff to earn him the Victor Murdock Award for Investigative Journalism from the Kansas Press Association, something he competed for with the biggest daily reporters to the smallest of weeklies.

These stories, and countless others, weren’t being told. Not because people didn’t want to read them, but because resources became so bleak at the other paper that they didn’t have time or ability to write them.

This type of reporting has given us a rock solid base for Newton to latch onto.

We went after the legal advertising, and got Newton a hellva deal at 60 percent less than what they were spending at almost every governmental outlet. Your welcome.

Bruce, my business partner in all of this, is more rock star than sales person. There isn’t anywhere we walk in town that people don’t role down their windows and yell “Behymer” (his last name) or sometimes even stop traffic to chat. This project doesn’t exist without his dedication.

We hired a great graphic artist, and another sales person who is helping with all sorts of new stuff we have in the cooker.

But that was all Phase 1 of Newton Now. What will Phase 2 bring? Outside of a lot more enterprise reporting, well designed advertising, and dedication? How about Blues, Brews, and BBQ, a handful of other events and special sections, and a few surprises that might just knock your socks off. This thing is growing folks.

We have grown grass roots from nothing. Adam, Wendy, Clint, Mike, Elizabeth, Shannin, Lindsey, and Bruce – you are why this works.

A picture of Burt Reynolds in “Smoky and the Bandit” sits in the office and has for as long as I can remember. “The Bandit” is our spirit animal in the office for some obvious reasons. We are renegades. People want to stop us. We might not operate outside of the law, but they don’t always like us either. A beer might get popped now and again, and finally, we aren’t afraid of a challenge.

Happy Birthday Newton Now.

We are doing what they say can’t be done.

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