THE REGIONAL NEWS, WESTVILLE INDICATOR
In the evolving landscape of journalism, Kiel Media owner Justin Kiel centers on community and investigative stories in his two weekly, print-only newspapers: The Regional News and the Westville Indicator.
“One of our first pieces of advice was being cautious about going online as the industry is still figuring out how to generate revenue from it,” he says. “It’s so important to have a central location for everything that is going on in your town and surrounding communities and for that news to be compiled by an unbiased and neutral person.”
Kiel and his mother, Kelly, launched into a new opportunity after finding out the previous owner of the newspapers was selling the publications and that they would cease to exist if there weren’t any buyers. At that time, Justin was 17.
“I had been taking pictures and writing for the papers previously, but neither of us had a journalism background,” he says. “We both picked up skills, and I think not having a traditional journalism background has allowed us to find a niche market. We focus on local content with a local feel and with a friendly writing approach.”
While Kiel Media has been in place since 2014, The Regional News was founded in 1915 and the Westville Indicator in 1882. The mom-and-son team generates revenue from subscription and in-store sales, print advertising, and legal notice advertising. Justin is in charge of design, finances, distribution, and business development. Kelly focuses on editing, social media, and content creation.
“There is a need for good journalism now more than ever, and local journalism is a part of that,” Justin says.
Justin’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked when he was in the sixth grade and earned money tutoring students. Over the years, he has designed websites, mowed lawns with his brothers, and was a photographer.
“There’s a Steve Jobs quote: ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,’” he says. “I believe that if you take steps in the right direction, it will eventually lead you to somewhere interesting, even if it isn’t what you originally planned. And I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out so far.”
Today at 23, Justin is active in his community serving as the LaCrosse Town Council president as well as regional committees and councils. He volunteers as secretary of the LaCrosse Lions Club, serves on the board of the South County Community Coalition, and is President of the Westville Chamber of Commerce. He has been honored by the Hoosier State Press Association seven times.
“My goal is to grow our papers – plain and simple – to serve larger areas and be better than we are now. We won’t stop pushing forward toward that,” he says. “Follow what you enjoy doing – that’s been a large part of who I am. I think there is a market for everything, and if you are just starting out and have something to offer, figure out how to follow your passion, and sell it.”
The Regional News and the Westville Indicator
16 E. Main St. in LaCrosse