The phone rings, and …



A reporter never knows who is on the other end of the line when the phone rings. Sometimes, it’s a complaint. Sometimes it’s a “news tip” about strange lights in the sky and what are you going to do about it?

And then once in a while, it turns out to be something wonderful. I had that experience recently, and it has turned out to be without a doubt my most-read story since I moved back into the newsroom about a year ago.

In 24 hours on Facebook, the stats were pretty amazing for our small daily:

  •  More than 35,000 people reached
  • More than 100 shares
  • More than 300 reactions

I know it’s not all about the numbers, but when you think about those numbers represent real people, it is humbling. I’m honored Maria and her father shared their story with me so that I could share it with others.


So many stories …


Obligatory selfie at the Home on the Range cabin, Smith County, Kansas.

Recently, I made a big career decision. I moved back into the newsroom. And I’m not regretting it one bit.

Today was a great day. It was hot and windy, but that’s Kansas for you. And photographer Jolie and I were there to tell the story of people telling a uniquely Kansas story.

We were at the site of the Home on the Range cabin in Smith County, the site where Dr. Brewster Higley wrote a poem about his beloved homestead. A Wichita group is there this week to film a documentary about how those words became the Western anthem we know today.

My dilemma, every reporter’s dilemma, is that there are so many stories to tell, but so little time and space to do it in. Even with the seemingly infinite internet, there’s only so much you can do.

It’s difficult sometimes to decide what fits with the angle I’m taking on the story and how much I need to write. I’ve always written long stories. I love to tell stories. But this day and age, with our ever-shortening attention spans, it’s a challenge for me to keep it short.

It’s kind of agonizing for me to not include everyone in a project like this, people who no doubt feel they put their hearts and souls into it. I would like to recognize them all, to include that one little nugget of a great quote they gave me. But sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

There was the woman who considers herself an “amateur writer” who felt compelled to write a movie script after reading a local historian’s account of the song. The stories of the guy who grew up near the cabin and whose father grew up nearby and whose mother taught in one-room schoolhouses. The director who has great desire to tell the stories of Kansas that many Kansans aren’t even familiar with. His wife, who is an accountant in her other life and craft services and first aid on the set. The hair and makeup woman who “embeds” herself in old photos for research, the costumer who makes some of the period clothing herself, the gun fighter re-enactor with a role in the film. And that’s not even half of them.

I’m an introvert by nature. But I’m fascinated by people who follow their passions, and I think their stories need to be told.

And even when it’s all done and my story is published, I always wonder, could I have included just a little more?



The Kansas Press Association had its annual convention and awards banquet the weekend of April 23, and my newspaper brought home a good amount of awards. It wasn’t enough to win the overall sweepstakes award in either news or advertising, but at our own little ceremony this morning, our publisher said any time he had to search for a bag to bring home the awards, we’ve done well.

(Congrats, by the way to our sister paper, The Garden City Telegram on their news Sweepstakes award. We’ll get ya next year, Scott.)

For my work that I submitted, I received a total of seven second- and third-place awards. Four of those are shared with co-workers. I’m pretty happy with that.

I think this is the one I am most happy about — third place for Best Online Promotion for my subscription video.

Graphix Squad House Ad

This was a fun one to work on and my co-designer, Mallory Goeke, and I received third place, Best House Ad.

56-Ad Sales 3.5x10

This one received  second place in the Best House Ad category. Both of these were done for our Business Card Directory.


This was a fun one to work on, too. I received third place in Best Online Ad (Motion) for it.

For this one, Sales Representative Eric Rathke and I received second place in Best Online Ad (Motion)

For this front-page banner ad, Sales Representative Joleen Fisher and I received second place, Best Furniture Ad. We also received second place for Best Ad Series or Campaign for ads for the same business.

It draws me back in


I’ve begun writing for my newspaper again.

It feels really good.

I am still working in the advertising department, too. I still enjoy doing that, and we have some long-term projects in the works and it wouldn’t be right to pile training someone new while dealing with those.

Our newsroom is short on staff right now. A long-time reporter (all-around hard news) recently retired, the young reporter on staff moved closer to her hometown in another state, and the education reporter is going to retire this summer. A former sports reporter has come back as a news reporter, and another former reporter is working part-time covering local government. The managing editor has been covering some recent trials.

We are at a slow point right now in my department, so I thought I’d help out with some feature writing for a couple months at least. Work will likely pick up this summer for us, and hopefully the newsroom can add a reporter or two by then. If not, I’ll evaluate how much time I can give to writing and do what I can.

I’ve been enjoying it. It’s good to write again, and this time, I have the tools to use video as a reporting tool, too.

I will be posting the articles, videos and photos in the portfolio section.

Today my boss and our publisher went to a nearby town to help out the weekly newspaper staff with some ideas to revitalize their biz. Sounds like they had a lot of ideas to offer. Seems like a good thing for us to do — it can help strengthen both of us. Will write more on this as it evolves.