Journal-World staff changes announced with upcoming ownership change

Ogden Newspapers Inc. on Monday hired 61 staff members as part of its acquisition of The World Company’s media assets, including the Lawrence Journal-World.

General manager Scott Stanford will serve as the newspaper’s publisher. Other hires include managing editor Chad Lawhorn, sports editor Tom Keegan, editor Matt Tait and advertising director Kathleen Johnson. Senior reporter Peter Hancock will continue covering the Legislature from the Journal-World’s Statehouse bureau in Topeka.

The Journal-World’s newsroom will remain the largest newsgathering team dedicated to Lawrence, Douglas County and the University of Kansas.

“I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to keep intact most of our talented newsroom staff, including Chad, Tom and Peter while also making every effort to expand local news and sports coverage under our new ownership,” Stanford said. “Ogden Newspapers has an array of resources and experience in helping its newspapers implement strategies to broaden the scope and depth of community news coverage.

“We’re going to have even more local news, find more stories to be told here in Lawrence. You’re going to see more community photos and more community contributions from our readers.”

On June 17, the Simons family, owners of The World Company, announced the sale of the Journal-World to Ogden, a diversified media company based in Wheeling, W. Va., that owns and operates 40 daily newspapers stretching from Jamestown, N.Y., to Maui, Hawaii. In addition to the Journal-World, the sale includes The World Company’s other media assets: weekly newspapers in Shawnee and Tonganoxie; more than a dozen websites, including, and; and Sunflower Publishing, the company’s niche publications division.

The staff changes take effect Aug. 1, when Ogden is expected to take ownership of the Journal-World.

An Ogden representative met individually with The World Company’s 91 employees on Monday to discuss the changes. The World Company offered severance packages to employees not hired by Ogden.

Among those not hired by Ogden were several longtime Journal-World journalists, including sports reporter Gary Bedore, opinion page editor Ann Gardner, photo chief Mike Yoder and photographer Richard Gwin.

Most of the staff changes at the Journal-World are unrelated to the newsroom. Ogden provides corporate support to its newspapers for accounting, human resources, web design, information technology and other business support services. Some support functions will be based in Topeka, where Ogden Publications, publisher of Mother Earth News, Utne Reader and other niche magazines, is located.

Ogden Publications will absorb Sunflower Publishing, which publishes Lawrence Magazine, Best of Lawrence, Topeka Magazine, Kansas Magazine and other titles.

Staff levels at The Shawnee Dispatch were reduced to accommodate a change in publication schedule. In August, the Dispatch will be published weekly on Wednesdays. The newspaper is published twice per week now.

No staff changes were implemented at the Tonganoxie Mirror.

Though the sale of The World Company’s media assets does not include the company’s real estate, the newspaper will remain in its offices at 645 New Hampshire St. under a lease negotiated as part of the transaction.