Vogts Leaving The Ledger, Work Toward Becoming J-Teacher

I have some big news. I am leaving The Ledger and chasing a dream of becoming a journalism teacher, which next to owning my own publication are my two main goals in the journalism field.

This won’t happen right away, but to get started, I am moving to Ransom, Kan., to become a paraeducator in the Western Plains School District in order to get my foot in the door and begin working on my teaching degree.

Doing this hasn’t been an easy decision, but it wholeheartedly feels like the right decision and my parents, family and friends are all quite supportive of this.

As most of you know I have been actively pursuing the goal of starting or purchasing an existing publication via several avenues.

First I tried to get my own paper off the ground by writing a 30-page business plan. Though the bankers thought the plan was so impressive that they wish to use it as an example to show other entrepreneurs, they couldn’t make the kind of loan I needed to get off the ground.

Then I looked at buying Kansas Traveler, which is a quarterly publication highlighting all the great things Kansas has to offer.

The bankers didn’t like the way the numbers looked due to the high expenses and lower profits associated with the business.

Then my boss and publisher of The Ledger dropped a bombshell on me. He offered to sell me The Ledger if I could get the funding. Now, he didn’t know how actively I was pursuing my own company, but he knew I had an interest in owning The Ledger.

Sadly, though, I couldn’t get the financing again due to a lower valuation placed on the business by the banks compared to what the asking price was.

Of course, just because I can’t buy it doesn’t mean he is still going to sell it. On several occasions he said he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to sell it but was just giving me the opportunity because he wanted to see me succeed. I don’t see The Ledger going away anytime soon. It would be a tragedy if it did. So if you are a faithful reader, rest assured it will continue to appear in your mail box and in the news racks for the conceivable future.

All of my attempts to be the owner and proprietor of a news organization haven’t gone well because the banks and other financiers aren’t comfortable with loaning out the amount of money I would need to accomplish such a venture because they can’t repossess a person, which is basically all a newspaper would have as collateral since it is a people business. This is all totally understandable. I just wish I had a rich uncle. It would have made things easier. 😉

I plan to start my new career in the middle of September after I have met some obligations I already have, such as being a mentor for high school journalists at the Kansas State Fair (this is something I would like to continue to do as well if scheduling allows).

I won’t be leaving journalism totally, though, because I will also be doing freelance work for http://ks.coachesaid.com and other publications to avoid a gap in journalism on my resume.

I still wholeheartedly believe I will one day own my own news outlet, but first I feel I must save up some money to do so, which I believe is a more fiscally responsible way to do it.

I know this might seem a bit sudden, and that’s because it kind of is.

At the beginning of this school year my close friend Travis Schafer, of Galva, was hired as the second and third grade teacher in that district. From day one he has been lobbying me to move out there with him.

I kept putting him off because I didn’t feel it was the right time to try to get into teaching, even though it is something I have often thought about.

But then I went and visited him a couple weekends back, and long story short, I ended up talking with the district superintendent who said he was going to recommend I get hired for the job if I wanted it.

Everything seemed to line up too perfectly. It was scary.

So why Ransom?

Well, it just feels right. Never in my life have I been so confident about something. It seems to me I am being called to be a para in Ransom by a higher power. Through all my trials and tribulations and prayers, this feels like the right thing for me to do.

I have to go with my gut. My heart lies in small-town, rural Kansas, and that is exactly what Ransom is.

And living and working in Ransom should allow me to save money, which hasn’t been the case while working at The Ledger. I have found a place to rent for only $100 per month, my wage will be equivalent to what I currently make, and the superintendent has said that if I get my CDL I can drive the school bus to earn extra money, which I plan to pursue.

I will also still be djing in the Canton-Galva, Moundridge, McPherson and Inman areas, as well as across the state. I will obviously come home often because family is very important to me.

I owe this desire to teach to my teachers from Canton-Galva High School, Hutchinson Community College and Wichita State University because of the impact they have had on me. I thank them all for that and their continuing support. I just hope I can do them all justice by being a good para and earning my teaching degree in the years to come.

I love journalism, and I will never leave it. I simply see this as a new way to participate in journalism. Education in our country is important, and so are journalism and the freedoms the First Amendment afford us.

I see this as a way to combine my two passions in life. This move feels right, and I firmly believe a person has to do what is right for him or her. This is right for me.

Of course, leaving The Ledger doesn’t come easily.

Working at The Ledger has brought me some of the greatest joy in my short life. I love the people I work with in both Inman and Moundridge. Small-town people are the salt of the earth, which is a notion I have always thought but am now sure of.

The Ledger is a great publication and the type of news outlet I will one day own and operate.

I would like to mention all the people I will miss, but it would take too long to list them all.

Just know that working with the Inman Chamber of Commerce, the Moundridge Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Sampler Foundation, both school districts’ teachers and coaches, the Moundridge Historical Association, the Inman Museum and the residents of both towns that made me feel so welcome and enjoy working at The Ledger.

The Sept. 3 issue is my last issue, and producing it was bittersweet. I hate to leave because I love The Ledger and my job as a journalist so much; however, this just feels right, so I hope no one holds me in any ill will because I am not leaving for any other reason except I feel this is too good of an opportunity, both in regards to career and finances, to pass on.

I will miss writing my column each week for The Ledger. I love writing it, and I hope you all have enjoyed reading it.

If you wish to continue to read about my thoughts, opinions and exploits, please join me online at www.voiceofthevogts.com. There is a slight chance The Ledger might still continue to run my columns every week, but the details of that haven’t been worked out. Nothing is set in stone yet.

Again, I thank you all for making me feel at home and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of your lives and community.

I will miss it greatly, and with any luck, I will one day return because small-town living, much like journalism, isn’t something you just do. It is something that is a part of you, and that part of me will never be extinguished. It will live on until my final seconds on this earth.

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About toddvogts 819 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.


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