Restoring a Community’s Voice

In 2009, Lawrence’s neighboring town of Eudora, Kan., lost its local newspaper like many towns did in that era. Nearly 10 years later, what began as a class project for students in KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications transformed into an online newspaper and a voice for Eudora’s 6,600 residents.

Students in Teri Finneman’s social media class began posting about local events to a Facebook page for the Eudora community. When that page gained in popularity, the reporting class was brought in to cover local news.

Facing expenses related to staffing and building the website, KU journalism students spearheaded a crowdfunding project on LaunchKU in fall 2019. With the support of 37 donors, their initial goal of $1,250 was met. 

More donors stepped forward after the crowdfunding ended. Jennifer McLeod Kassebaum, a School of Journalism alumna and bookstore owner in Council Grove, Kan., was excited to support students and local news. Kassebaum inherited stock from her late grandmother in the early 2000s and recently decided to donate it to KU. The Eudora Times project interested Kassebaum, in part, so she could carry on the tradition of helping students like she was helped by the Roger Wooldridge Memorial Scholarship.

“I believe local community journalism is important, particularly for citizens to be informed about the activities of their city, town, state and school board,” Kassebaum said. “This is the heart of community journalism and builds community — and trust in journalism. I was thrilled to support a community journalism project that provides KU students with real-world experience.”

Students produce up to 10 stories per week for the Eudora Times website, www.eudoratimes.com.The site averages 32,000 visitors each month, and participation is growing. To keep it going, the project needs sustaining support for staffing and expenses. You can help the news continue at www.kuendowment.org/supportET.

Victoria Sickinger

Eudora Times spring 2021 reporting team — all KU School of Journalism students. Left to right: Lucie Krisman, Nicole Asbury, Chris Fortune, Cami Koons.