When W.C. Simons entered into an agreement with two other men to start a Lawrence newspaper more than 100 years ago, he had no idea he was laying the financial and philosophical foundation for a multimedia company that would some day be one of the most innovative and technologically advanced and locally owned media companies in the United States.
The World Company is the leading news source in the Lawrence community, employing nearly 300 people in a variety of departments that support its multimedia endeavors.
And being on that cutting-edge didn't happen by accident.
Today, it is fashionable for newspaper publishers to call for better ways to serve readers and advertisers. But when Dolph C. Simons Jr., (grandson of W.C. Simons and the editor and publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World since 1962) addressed the issue at a 1991 event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Simons' family entry into the news business, he sounded like a prophet.
"We believe it is important to look upon our business as an 'information business,' not merely a newspaper or a cable television operation," Simons said. "We want to stay abreast of new developments and be able to deliver news and advertising, as well as other information, however a reader or advertiser might desire."
That easily explains why The World Company has been so aggressive at embracing new technology and ideas.
In 1995, the Lawrence Journal-World became one of the first daily newspapers in the country to formally begin publishing on the Internet.
The company's goal is simple: to provide fair, accurate and honest information to the community in the quickest and most dependable manner. The World Company recognizes that lifestyles are changing and strives to offer people information through a variety of media to meet different preferences and needs.
"No one can afford to be complacent as there always is someone who can come into town and beat you at your own business if you do not remain alert and strong," said Simons.
Today, along with the Lawrence Journal-World, The World Company owns newspapers in Tonganoxie, Baldwin, Basehor, Shawnee and Bonner Springs in Kansas. A related enterprise created by The World Company, WorldWest Limited Liability Company, owns newspapers in Payson, Ariz., and Steamboat Springs and Craig, Colo.
The company also has branched out into other media. In 1968, the company applied for the cable television franchise for Lawrence and activated service to customers in December 1971. The broadband division was sold in 2010 to Knology of Kansas Inc.
The World Company continues to provide news and information to communities in Northeast Kansas through its newspapers, its magazines and through digital and mobile platforms, building on a reputation for innovation that included, in 2001, becoming one of the first media groups to combine its print, television and Internet news-gathering into one newsroom. Its web sites, including LJWorld.com and KUSports.com, have earned dozens of national and international awards.