KC Kansan Goes All Digital

Earlier this month, The Kansas City Kansan made a surprising announcement.

On Jan. 10 it switched from a newspaper to entirely digital publication.

The Kansan, which is a daily newspaper serving Kansas City, Kan., was established on Jan. 31, 1921, according to reports.

It is owned by the crippled GateHouse Media company, which also owns The McPherson Sentinel and The Newton Kansan.

This is a bold move, but GateHouse needs to make bold moves less it fold and go out of business.

In one report, the company said www.kansascitykansan.com reaches 7,000 local residents monthly in its current configuration.

The configuration is more blog-like in that the site will be easier for users to navigate.

As the company has said in the news reports, not having to contend with press deadlines and the necessary page layout process, the staff, which is being reduced from eight to four staffers, will have more time to find more news and update the site as things come in, making the news flow more constant.

“The approach we’re taking with the new Kansan site is a proven method for making news more interesting and engaging online,” said Howard Owens, director of digital publishing for GateHouse, in one report. “We’ve found that readers really enjoy this format and will visit the site more frequently because of it.”

Doing this is a big move.

They are going to lose a lot of readers, but they might gain several new users for the site.

It is an exciting venture, and being a big proponent of the online world, I commend them for the attempt; however, I’m afraid it might not work.

This is Kansas. Too many people still prefer the print product, even in a metropolis such as Kansas City.

I hope it works for them, but I fear they might be too far ahead of themselves.

Maybe simply scaling back the print product and beefing up the online presence would have been a better idea.

Time will tell I guess.

Even if it fails, it might be a sign of new life in a company that is on its deathbed. The fact they are trying something so radical in order to keep the company alive is inspiring, and it gives me hope for the day in the distant future when a majority of journalism will be taking place online.

I’m excited.


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