Most readers concur that a small town cannot support more than one newspaper. Yet, that is exactly what the city of Haysville, KS, is attempting to do after the departure of one paper’s new editor to start up a brand new publication of her own.
Johnna Crawford rejoined her former employer, the Haysville Times, at the end of 2006 with the intent of purchasing the paper from the present owner, C.J. Cross, within the next few years. She had worked for them several years ago before attending college. Within a month after her return, however, internal problems and conflicts caused her to depart again. This time, she decided to start fresh.
“I want to start from scratch and build from the ground up,” Crawford noted. “That way, I can make the paper what I want it be and not have to deal with any previous problems.”
The Haysville Sun, named after Crawford’s daughter, distributed its first issue on Friday, February 9, 2007. It is starting as a six-page free publication in order to develop a readership base and advertising clientele, but it will expand in future weeks. So far, Crawford says that she has had no problems selling advertising and has encountered a great deal of encouragement from local business owners and residents.
Crawford’s plans are to focus on local news and sports, and the first issue included both recent game news and an article on a Haysville homicide. She says that she also plans to do things somewhat differently than her former employer does. For instance, she will be including color photographs and ads on the front and back of each issue, something the Times rarely does.
When she left the Times, Crawford took with her several other employees who were unhappy with their work there. Most of them are now on the payroll for the Sun. Animosities between the two newspapers have grown to such a level that Crawford has said she will not share reporters with the Times, and it has been widely circulated that Cross has criticized Crawford’s new enterprise and accused her of sabotaging the Times, which Cross has owned for six years.
The Times is still in production, and according to statements made by the owner, who could not be reached for any further comments, will continue to print. There remains some doubt, however, as to whether both papers can survive in a city with just 10,000 residents. Although competition is generally considered to be good in business, numerous small businesses have gone under in Haysville in recent years due to a lack of support from the community and/or lack of a large enough customer base to support both them and their competition. At least one of the newspapers is likely to fold; the question will be, which one?