The best multimedia journalist I’ve ever met

Over the last six or seven years, I’ve worked with some of the most amazing and inspirational interactive journalists in the world.

These aren’t people who work at the Washington Post or the New York Times or even

At the top of that list are people like the Lawrence Journal-World’s Dave Toplikar (who does more “webifying” to a routine daily city commission story than most online editors do for all of their yearly projects combined), editor Levi Chronister (who has forgotten more about real online sports journalism than most of the folks at know) and editor Phil Cauthon (who has shown me time-and-time again that it’s a whole lot easier to break the rules if you know and appreciate the rules in the first place).

Tim Richardson, who is in charge of all the daily online content at The Topeka Capital-Journal, is nothing short of brilliant. He’s one of those guys that no newspaper knows that they need until they actually have him.

These folks are journalists who really understand the power of the Internet. To me, these folks are like the Super Friends (or would that be Justice League?) of online storytelling. And I can’t even tell you how lucky I am to have worked with these folks.

Each day when I show up at the News Center to work with these folks, I can honestly say that there isn’t a single one of them who I would ever want to replace even if I could hire anyone in the world and I had the biggest budget on the planet to do it.

They are the online Dream Team, only they won’t lose to the online nerds from Argentina. Trust me, they would kick the Argentinan geeks’ asses.

You don’t shovel over stories from the newspaper and call it online journalism. If you’re doing that, you’re doing a huge disservice to not only your readers, but your company. We have a responsibility here for the future of our industry that few seem to be taking that seriously, but that’s for another blog entry.

Anyway, that’s what these folks understand.

I really want to talk about the amazing multimedia journalists I’m lucky enough to work with in Lawrence. And there are a ton of them here at the Journal-World, which is probably the most-converged news operation in the nation, if not the world.

Here is a list of the badasses I get to work with each day and a representative link to something cool as shit that they’ve helped build for our Web sites here in Lawrence:

Local government reporter Mark Fagan, local political writer Joel Mathis, arts editor Mindie Paget, education reporter Terry Rombeck, anchor and cops reporter Janet Reid, local issues reporter Brooke Wehner, TV sports guys Mike Rigg and Kevin Romary, Jayhawk basketball writer Gary Bedore, entertainment writer Richard Gintowt and photographer Thad Allender are just a few of reporters at the Journal-World, and 6News. These folks are so damn converged that I’m sure some beancounter at a big chain sees them and starts drooling about what profit-margins might look like with a newsroom full of folks like this who can slide effortlessly between print and television and the Internet.

Then there are the amazing behind-the-scenes folks at the Journal-World who impress the crap out of me almost everyday.

Our Senior Designer, and one of my closest friends, Dan Cox is so damn talented that it’s almost scary. Our Web team has been lucky enough to build the best online newspaper in the nation or in the world every year for probably the last four or five years in a row, as named by either the Newspaper Association of America or Editor and Publisher magazine. And Dan designed nearly all of those sites.

But it’s not just design skills.

Dan *gets* the Internet. He’s a man of few words, but when he says something, nearly everyone in the room goes: “That may be the smartest Internet guy on the planet.”

And talk about the journalistic equivalent of having leprechauns flying out your butt — our lead programmer has a journalism degree. How cool is that? Adrian Holovaty is one of the best young minds in all of journalism (though his University of Missouri education has him misguided from time-to-time — which most University of Kansas J-School grads can confirm this common flaw), and my guess is that the biggest newspaper chains in the world don’t even know that they all need at least one Adrian. Until you’ve worked with a programmer that *really* understands storytelling, then you probably don’t know that you need one.

Now on to my real point.

Believe it or not, talking about all of these incredible people was not the purpose of this blog.

What you’ve just read is the longest introduction ever written by a person with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

As amazing as all of those people listed above are, none of them are the “best online journalist I’ve ever met.”

Photo by Dick Swanson - Snead photographing passengers on the Warsaw, Poland to East Berlin train.
Photo by Dick Swanson
Snead photographing passengers on the Warsaw, Poland to East Berlin train.

That title goes to Journal-World senior editor Bill Snead. Bill is so damn converged, I’m sure some folks would like to see him get a permanent prescription for doxycycline. And probably rightly so. Bill’s enthusiasm in contagious. Only without the itching.

I’ve worked with some folks who have really mentored me and made a difference in my life.

Back in my reporter days, there was probably no bigger influence in my life than Capital-Journal managing editor Anita Miller. Then when I moved on to Morris Digital Works in Georgia, Michael Romaner was the center of my virtual world. Over the last few years, Capital-Journal publisher John Fish and World Company COO Ralph Gage have given me not only amazing opportunities, but amazing guidance, and I’m not sure how I’ll ever be able to repay them.

But my hero is Bill Snead. He hates it when I say that, but screw it. He deserves to be told how great he is.

Bill is one the best storytellers I’ve ever met, with a list accomplishments that commands respect. Yet, he is one of the most humble men I’ve ever been around.

The first time I met Snead, I was more than a little nervous about it, and I was going to do everything I could not to do or say anything stupid. Because I knew a fair amount of Bill’s history, I had prepared myself to meet a pompous ass. But he is so gracious, so nice, so down to earth, that his stature grew even larger with me each minute I spoke with him.

I try to spend at least 10 minutes with Bill everyday, though I can’t count how many times “10 minutes” has turned into an hour or more.

But this isn’t about Bill Snead being a nice guy. It’s about him being the best multimedia journalist I’ve ever met.

Finally …

In his storied 50-year career as a photojournalist, Bill has never once had a photo show at a studio. And this next week, he has his first.

The Image Point Gallery in downtown Kansas City will be hosting Bill’s first-ever photo show, which will open this Friday, Sept. 3 and run through Oct. 8. The Image Point Gallery is at 1515 Grand Blvd, and the phone number there is 816.474.1518, in case you get lost, like I do.

At the show opening this Friday, there will be a reception from 6 p.m to 9 p.m. Bill will be there to welcome the public.

Do yourself a favor and go. You should go there to see his photos, but you should also go so that you can shake his hand and talk with him for a few minutes.

Because of this photo show, we’ve been building a huge Bill Snead section on our new site.

It has this massive gallery on it that spans five decades, showcasing his favorite photos.

It has audio clips from his interview last week on the Kansas City NPR station.

But it also has a lots of links to stories Bill has put together for and These stories are text-book examples of cutting-edge multimedia storytelling.

  • He writes the stories.
  • He takes the photos (with large online-only galleries as a core component).
  • He shoots the video.
  • He records the interviews so they can be used online.
  • He sets up live online chats with key sources.

And he works with the newspaper, our sister television station and our Web folks to make sure that the stories work well in all three outlets.

Here is a link to the section:

Visit the site.

Then go to his photo show.

Published by


Dad. Journalist. Nerd. Music lover. Baseball fan. Puckhead.