March 2, 2021

Cynthia Haynes is chief financial officer for Haynes Publishing/Nor’west Newspapers based in Oberlin, Kansas. Now 40 years into the business, she and her husband own seven small papers and a shopper with circulations of 1,200 to 1,500.

COVID-19 was slow to reach northwest Kansas, thereby limiting any impact in the early days of the pandemic. While other newspapers around the country saw dramatic cuts, Haynes took the unusual move to buy a newspaper to save the Rawlins County Square Deal from closing. Her staff also grew closer during the pandemic since they began having staff meetings on Zoom.

“We had almost quit having meetings of the whole staff simply because we’re spread across six counties, and it’s really difficult, you know, it’s a two-hour drive from one end to the other,” Haynes said. “So we have learned to use Zoom, and we’re having more regular meetings now, and I think it’s helping all of us to talk to each other, bounce ideas off of each other, know what’s happening, know what we should be doing. So that’s helped us a lot.”

Listen to the oral history interview:

Read the transcript.

See The Oberlin Herald’s front page from March 25, 2020.

See The Oberlin Herald’s front page from April 15, 2020.

See more from The Essential Workers, an oral history project tracking the experiences of locally owned newspapers in Mid-America during the pandemic.

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Teri Finneman is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas. She previously worked as a print journalist and multimedia correspondent covering state…
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