Sallie magazine, La Voz Latina and the Emporia Gazette. Those publications are produced by the Emporia newspaper, in order to respond to changing needs and markets within its community. Today we’ll meet a long-time Kansas newspaper family which is expanding its commitment to journalism in Kansas.
Chris White Walker is publisher of the Emporia Gazette. He is also the great-grandson of the legendary William Allen White, about whom we have learned during the past two weeks.
Chris grew up in Emporia. His first experience in the journalism business was as a paperboy, delivering the Gazette. He later worked in the production department. Chris went to the journalism school at the University of Kansas and then worked for alternative publications in Lawrence and Kansas City after college.
In 1995, he and his wife Ashley came back to Emporia to help his parents run the paper and eventually assume ownership. Chris became editor in 2000. Today, Chris is publisher and Ashley is editor of the Emporia Gazette. The newspaper has changed and evolved, but it continues the legacy of William Allen White.
“His writing transcends time,” Chris said of his great-grandfather’s observations on politics and community which seem particularly prescient. “Many of the things he wrote about are applicable to the present day.”
Four statues stand in the rotunda of the Kansas Capitol. They honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sen. and Gov. Arthur Capper, aviator Amelia Earhart, and country newspaper editor William Allen White. White was one of the most famous newspaper editors of his day. He was nationally influential while publishing the daily newspaper in his small town in rural Kansas. His legacy continues through the years.
Last week we learned about Red Rocks, the William Allen White home which is now a state historic site in Emporia. At Red Rocks through the years, William Allen White and his wife Sallie hosted many visitors, including several presidents and thought leaders from across the nation.
One of those was Edna Ferber, the most successful female novelist in the first half of the twentieth century. She wrote: “…there is no ocean trip, no month in the country, no known drug equal to the reviving quality of twenty-four hours spent on the front porch or in the sitting room of the Whites’ house in Emporia…”
White was a gifted and articulate writer. He wrote 22 books. His newspaper editorials through the years dealt with topics ranging from national policy to his favorite recipes. His 1896 editorial, “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” first brought him national fame. This editorial led to him meeting and becoming a longtime friend of Teddy Roosevelt. In later years, White came to embrace Roosevelt’s progressive policies within the Republican party.
Guess who’s coming to dinner? A Hollywood movie star, a best-selling author, or maybe even the President of the United States. These were the remarkable types of visitors who came to call on rural Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White.
In 2018, White’s home in Emporia is celebrating 150 years since the birth of this amazing Kansan.
William Allen White was born in 1868 in Emporia. Roger Heineken and Kathie Buckman, volunteers with the William Allen White Community Partnership, shared the story of his home and his life.
White grew up in the rural community of El Dorado, with a population at the time of 3,466 people. Now, that’s rural. He attended the College of Emporia and the University of Kansas.
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.