Albert Tims, director of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication, presented Dolph C. Simons Jr., the editor and publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World and chairman of The World Company, with the 2011 Ralph D. Casey/Minnesota Award at the Inland Press Association's 126th annual meeting in Chicago on Oct. 18, 2011.
The award recognizes distinguished leadership and service in the newspaper industry. An honor that fits Simons Jr. well.
Simons Jr. started his reporting career as an international reporter for the London Times and then the Johannesburg Star in South Africa. Then, in 1962, Simons Jr. became the editor-in-chief of the Lawrence Journal-World, the newspaper his grandfather founded in 1891.
It was here that Simons Jr. made his mark on the media landscape. In 1968 he founded Sunflower Cablevision, which provided cable television services to the community for more than 40 years. Simons Jr. also positioned the World Company (which owns the Lawrence Journal-World), as a founding member of what is now the National Cable Television Cooperative. Because of these advancements, the Cable Television Center recognized him as a "pioneer" member of the industry.
"If we don't have good people and loyal people helping us, we're in trouble. And I've been blessed to have that here in The World Company," Simons Jr. said upon receiving the award.
Simons Jr. has been a revolutionary in understanding that the role of newspapers is changing and reporters and editors must adapt. In a 1992 speech, he said, "It's very important that our reporters understand that they are no longer newspaper reporters. We are going to serve our readers regardless of what their media choice is."
It was because of this forward-thinking mindset that, in 1995, the Journal-World became one of the first daily newspapers to begin publishing stores on the Internet.
Simons Jr. has contributed greatly to the American press. He has served as the director of the Associated Press, president of the Kansas Associated Press board of directors, the director of the Inland Daily Press Association and the director of the Newspaper Publishers Association (now called the Newspaper Association of America).
He is also a committed community member and serves as a trustee of the Menninger Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Kansas Nature Conservatory. He serves on the board of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the central governing board for Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
And Simons Jr. enjoys supporting his alma mater, Kansas University. According to his son, Dan Simons, Simons Jr. often says, "As the university goes, so does the university town," referring to his support of both Lawrence and the community. His grandfather was a founding member of the William Allen White Foundation and today, Dolph and both of his sons serve on the board. He contributes to the Kansas University Endowment Charitable Gift Fund and has helped fund the university's new Spencer Museum of Art. He also serves on the board of advisers for KU's International Center for Ethics in Business, the advisory board for the School of Business and the KU Alumni Association board.
The Ralph D. Casey/Minnesota Award is named in honor of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication's first director. The award is presented each year to a publisher, editor or senior newspaper staff member who has a distinguished record of leadership and service in the newspaper industry.