Dolph Simons Jr., who carries on a tradition established by his grandfather 100 years ago, said Thursday that newspapers will survive by playing a positive role in this country and earning the respect of people.
"I am convinced a properly motivated newspaper can play a significant and positive role for a community, state and nation," said Simons, editor and publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World.
"I don't think anyone in the newspaper business expects people to shower them with praise and appreciation, but we should try to conduct ourselves and manage our papers in a manner which merits the respect of our readers," he said.
"Those in the business must take their jobs and responsibilities more seriously while at the same time, not taking themselves too seriously."
Simons spoke at the Lawrence Holidome at a meeting of the Newcomen Society of the United States, which honored the 100th anniversary of the Simons family's start in the newspaper business in Lawrence and the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.
THE SOCIETY is a non-profit educational foundation formed in 1923 to preserve and protect the American free enterprise system, and honor successful corporations and organizations.
On Dec. 14, 1891, three entrepreneurs Simons' grandfather, W.C. Simons; W.C. Simons' brother, L.A. Simons, and his brother-in-law, J.L. Brady arrived in Lawrence by horse and buggy from St. Joseph, Mo., to enter the newspaper business.
Even though seven papers were already published in Lawrence at the time, the three were confident they could succeed.
They embarked in the business with $50 capital on Dec. 14, 1891, and operated the Lawrence Record under a lease agreement for three months. On March 2, 1892, they put out the first edition of their own newspaper, the Lawrence World, using equipment other publishers had discarded as junk.
Their vision of a community newspaper survives today with the Journal-World, Simons said.
HE SAID the Journal-World represents the merger or purchase of 40 newspapers, and there have been at least 104 newspapers published in Lawrence since the city was founded in 1854.
The Journal-World was consolidated after a fire in 1911 destroyed the offices and equipment of the Lawrence Journal, a paper that Simons and Brady had purchased in 1905 and continued to publish under that name.
In 1914, Simons purchased Brady's interest in the Journal-World and it has been owned and operated by the Simons family since.
"The real story behind this success story is in the hard work, sacrifice and determination to succeed first by W.C. Simons and then by my father, Dolph Simons," he said.
The company expanded into cable television in Lawrence in 1968 and in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1978. In 1984, the company began printing USA Today for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
SIMONS SAID challenges faced by newspapers include competition from other media and also the "shocking illiteracy situation with more than 30 million adults who just cannot read."
Despite challenges facing the business both past and present, Simons said the rewards have been great and said the company has been fortunate to have ``so many top-flight, hard-working, loyal associates.''
"These people played a significant role in the success of the business,'' Simons said, ``and if W.C. and father were here this evening, they would join me in extending a genuine and enthusiatic `thank you' to these thousands of men, women and young boys and girls who have been a part of the Journal-World family.''