By Milissa Tuley
Hoosier State Press Association
Kelly Kiel’s teenage son had been writing and taking photos for their community newspaper for several months when the owner decided to sell it.
One offhand comment – “Mom, wouldn’t it be cool if we ran the paper?” – and a crash course in newspapering later, the mother-son team are operating The Regional News (LaCrosse) and the Westville Indicator in northern Indiana.
The pair own 50-50 stakes in the papers and learned the ropes from former owner Galen Armstrong before the March 14 ownership transition to Kiel Media.
The Kiels said their skill sets serve them well in their new enterprise.
The elder Kiel grew up in LaCrosse and worked as a teacher after earning an education degree from Purdue University.
Now as the clerk-treasurer of LaCrosse and also as a clerk at the LaCrosse Public Library, she hears what’s going on in the area.
“I’m in the community, and I talk to people every day between both jobs,” she said.
Her son, a junior at LaCrosse High School, tinkers with web and graphic design, photography, videography and writing.
“I was familiar with putting things together on a computer so a newspaper didn’t seem like that much of a jump,” he said.
Regional News subscribers may have already recognized Justin Kiel’s name.
He had been submitting photos and writing articles on sports and community events since the fall.
As the owner of a newspaper company, Kiel is considering his career options.
“I never would have seen myself in newspapers, but now I can see a future for myself in journalism,” he said. “Who can resist looking into journalism as a degree when you’ve already owned a newspaper?”
Kelly Kiel said she enjoys being active in the community, attending her sons’ sporting events and other activities. She sees operating the newspapers as an extension of that.
“It was a good thing to do together and a good thing for the community,” she said.
The Kiels have a division of labor, she said.
Writing articles and sports updates falls to Justin.
Kelly edits stories and submissions from residents, who were accustomed to providing information to the newspapers, she said.
Kiel hopes to find ways for her other two sons, ages 14 and 15, to help out as well.
The Kiels plan to continue the newspapers’ long tradition of publishing local news.
A newspaper started in the area in July 1915, when Irving D. Young moved to LaCrosse and established a weekly newspaper called The LaCrosse Sentinel, according to the Kiels’ research.
In the early 1940s, B.E. Slater of Westville bought the paper and printed it in Westville, while maintaining an office in LaCrosse.
In 1955, ownership changed the name of the paper to The Regional News and began printing it in tabloid size.
Armstrong purchased the operation about a decade ago.
Today, the newspapers are printed on The Chesterton Tribune’s press.
The Kiels maintain an online news presence via social media at facebook.com/TheRegionalNews46.