PITTSBURG — The Morning Sun has a new publisher and community ink is in his veins.
Jamey Honeycutt comes to Pittsburg with 26 years of newspaper management experience at community publications in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
“I love this part of the country, the fly-over states that most ignore, this is where my kind of people live work and play,” Honeycutt said. “This is right where I want to be … close to my Royals and Chiefs.”
Those aren’t simply platitudes to his new neighbors as he is decorating his office at the Morning Sun with his Zack Greinke Cy Young commemorative plaque and Alex Gordon signed baseball.
“I am most proud of my Royals 1985 World Series Cook Book that a good friend in Oklahoma gave me,” Honeycutt said.
At 44 years old, he started young, managing his student newspaper in college, the Henderson State University Oracle, for four years, overseeing its expansion from tabloid to broadsheet and greatly expanding news coverage and advertising.
“I have been blessed with tremendous mentors in this industry that have taught me the value of good journalism and community values,” he said. “Those are benchmarks of our industry that have been in decline over the last decade and I intend to bring them back.
“We have seen what has happened to news and it is a shame, I think people are beginning to realize that you can’t trust just any .com source. Real journalism comes from real journalists that you know and trust and more and more they can only be found at your local newspaper.
“That makes newspapers a good place to be contrary to the narrative that other media keep pushing.”
Honeycutt believes newspapers in smaller towns will see a resurgence if they keep true to their mission of hyper-local news and service to local causes.
“Our mission is to tell the story that is Pittsburg and Crawford county,” he said. “We are the written record and yearbook, the living narrative and heartbeat of the town.
“If you ever want to see a community lose its identity, just close its newspaper and that will happen. I have seen it happen and it is sad.”
Honeycutt, a native of Hope, Arkansas, oversees a nine-newspaper region as senior group publisher. His papers are in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri and northeast Oklahoma. Most recently, Honeycutt worked for BH Media and was based out of the Tulsa World in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he managed their weekly group of newspapers.
When asked about his plans for the Morning Sun, the same smile he wore while talking about the Royals spreads across his face again.
“If its news to you…its news to us,” he said. “It’s that simple. We are going to be hyper-local and dialed in to what makes Pittsburg tick. We have obviously done a good job over the years but I want to take it to the next level and really engage our readers, make them a part of the story-telling and spread into some areas we might not have gone in the past.”
He plans on forming an active editorial board to explore what content readers enjoy and what they don’t as well as how to grow the readership base.
“In Pittsburg, no other media reaches as many homes everyday as the Morning Sun — period,” Honeycutt said. ”While I am proud of that, I want an even larger readership and in the coming weeks and months you will see us court new readers.”
Honeycutt doesn’t buy in to the narrative that Millennials are a lost readership demographic, rather just completely underserved and neglected.
“We have tried to engage Millennials the same way we reached out to previous generations and that simply won’t work,” said Honeycutt. “They want us to be more interactive online as well as access the paper on electronic devices and we have not be successful in promoting our e-edition and digital offerings. That will change.
“I look forward to getting involved in the community and hearing from our readers. Hopefully, as soon as I am fully moved in and settled I can really begin the process of being initiated into what it means to be a Pittsburger.”