They met in grad school, studying at the University of Kansas for their master’s in journalism. It was 2003.
Dan Blom, 53 at the time, was taking his first ever journalism class, despite already having been in the Newspaper Business for 30 years. He was studying part-time while teaching and working for the university.
Jay Senter, 30 years younger than Blom, began grad school in the fall of that year. He was pursuing his passion for journalism, which began during his high school years working on the Harbinger.
They formed an acquaintanceship, but it didn’t extend more than casual conversations during the number of classes they shared. In 2005, they went their separate ways. Senter graduated while Blom continued his work for KU, later working for the Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City.
But they would reunite years later, running into each other during a city council meeting. Soon after, they would form a partnership as co-publishers of the Prairie Village Post, an online website dedicated to covering news in Northeast Johnson County.
The idea was originally Senter’s. He launched the site in June 2010, aiming to fill the gaping hole in news coverage within the community. The Kansas City Star stopped covering Johnson County unless it was breaking news, and The Sun was on its last leg, ceasing publication in 2011.
He aimed to post two to three stories a day, in addition to balancing his job as an internal communications manager at the University of Kansas and a newborn baby.
“I saw that nobody was covering anything, and with my previous experience, I knew enough about the web and how to get a website going that I thought it doesn’t really cost you anything,” Senter said. “But I also had a day job at this point, so I was getting up really early and staying up late to make sure I posted on the site.”
Enter Blom. At a city council run in, Blom learned what Senter was doing with the Prairie Village Post and the two agreed to meet for lunch. That lead to ongoing conversations about the site. Both eventually came to the same conclusion: for the site to really develop and be the community’s voice, it was going to take more than just Senter working part time.
In 2012, Blom signed on as co-publisher. Coverage then expanded from Fairway, Prairie Village and Mission Hills to Mission, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills, Mission Woods, North Leawood and Merriam. Shortly following the expansion, Senter began working full time.
Blom explains that a community can’t function fully without a platform for information, and to serve as that platform is the ultimate goal of the Post.
“You can get anything from the internet, anything from Facebook, anybodies opinion,” Blom said. “But what you don’t get is vetted absolute, journalism applied information that people can count on. It’s information that doesn’t have a bias, that allows you to understand an issue and come to your own decision and weigh in on it.”
Tyler Motsinger, father of sophomore Kirby and senior Oscar, feels that the site fills the void left by The Sun.
“[The Prairie Village Post] really filled that hole. You can get national news or city news from other sources, but what’s great about PV Post is that they provide news that no one else is covering,” Motsinger said. “They understand what people living around here are interested in and what’s important to us.”
Senter said he has witnessed the evolution of people recognizing the site as their major news source. When he first started, he spent the majority of his time digging up stories to cover. Now, members of the community are pitching story ideas constantly, sometimes with four or five ideas a day.
With just two reporters to cover the happenings of Northeast Johnson County and a commitment to inform their community, Blom and Senter have created a system to produce strong, newsworthy content.
Typically, they divide their stories two and two. Both are usually awake and working on their computer around 6:15 a.m. everyday, checking Google alerts, emails and posting breaking news briefs, as well as tidbits of information that aren’t worth their own story. The rest of the morning is spent focusing on writing and publishing their content for the day.
In the afternoon, they focus on their content for tomorrow, as well as orders of business. They get interviews, take pictures, attend city council meetings, work on ads projects and develop the site.
Because both work from a home office, they have the ability to structure their day, but that doesn’t mean it is less packed.
“A lot of times you start at 6 a.m. in the morning, and you’ll end up at 9 p.m. at night walking out of a city council meeting,” Blom said, “So everything else that normal people do during their day you just fit it in whenever you can. You go to the grocery at two in the afternoon cause you’ve got to be at a council meeting at 6:30 that night.”
Senter feels that they have a ways to go before they are a sustainable, long-run operation. But now they are established in the community and aren’t going anywhere.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we show up at things and people will ask “ ‘Are you the guy from PV Post?’” Senter said. “ That’s really cool that people are plugged in enough to their community and are excited enough to know who Dan and I are.”