The leadership team

Hands-on leaders in building community

leadership team

Josh Bootsma, Managing Editor

In his role as Managing Editor Josh ensures that The Lansing Journal is publishing 2–5 fresh headlines every day. His editorial calendar includes news releases sent to the Journal from Village, Township, County, and State sources, but also original articles written by a team of freelance journalists whose availability is varied and whose specialties are diverse. In addition to researching and writing his own articles, Josh helps guide other stories from concept to publication, understanding that the goal of each news item is to build community by keeping people informed and connected.

leadership team

Melanie Jongsma, Publisher and Founder

Recognizing that people in her hometown of Lansing, Illinois, did not have an independent source of information about community events, local government decisions, business developments, school activities, or even public amenities like parks and the library, Melanie founded The Lansing Journal in 2017. The venture began as a partnership with the Shopper in South Holland, a free weekly print paper. The 2020 COVID pandemic forced the Shopper’s press operations to shut down, and the owner decided to get out of the newspaper publishing business altogether. Melanie took The Lansing Journal portion of the business and developed it into a robust digital news service. She is intentional about building community by representing Lansing’s diversity in the pages of the newspaper. The Journal has grown under her leadership, in readership, reach, and impact.

The Lansing Journal, a newspaper for all of Lansing

by Melanie Jongsma, Publisher

When The Lansing Journal launched in September 2017, we made bold claims about “Serving Lansing’s diverse community.” At the time we were thinking in terms of identifiable ethnicities — Black, White, and Hispanic are the three largest racial percentages in our village.

So we were intentional about seeking out diverse stories, but also including diverse contributors.

In the process of becoming a newspaper for all of Lansing, we learned some new things and confirmed some things we already believed:

1. There is no “Black news” or “Hispanic news” or “White news.”

There is only “news” — and different people are interested in different stories for different reasons. For example, in 2018 we ran a story about Charreada, or “Mexican rodeo.” Were Lansing’s Mexicans interested in that story? Yes. But for many of them, it wasn’t news. They already knew about Mexican rodeo. But for most of Lansing’s Blacks and Whites, the story was news — they didn’t know there was a state-wide rodeo in Beecher every year, they didn’t know it was a Mexican tradition, and they didn’t know that a Lansing businessman and his son participate. Is Charreada Hispanic news? Maybe. But more significantly, it’s community news.

2. Diversity is not only about race.

And “diverse” is not code for “Black.” When we use the word diversity in Lansing Journal articles, we intend its original meaning: variety. Lansing is a community made up of a variety of races, ages, faith backgrounds, income levels, professions, and traditions. We work hard to make sure we cover not only established Lansing organizations, but also newcomers and start-ups. We’ve published stories about Joe Labella as well as Joey Glowacki, the grade school science fair and the high school job fair, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, a 111th birthday and various obituaries. All this variety, all this diversity, is Lansing.

3. We want diverse participants too.

We are always looking for more journalists to help us cover Lansing news. And we believe we would be a stronger newspaper if we had more diversity in our writing team. Please understand what I mean by this — I’m not looking for a Black journalist to cover all the “Black stories” in Lansing, or a Hispanic journalist to take the “Latino beat,” or a senior citizen to cover all “senior news.” I need journalists who are different from me — in age, race, faith, and experience — because they will have networks of contacts that I don’t have. They will share story ideas that I’m unaware of. When those networks and ideas and stories become part of The Lansing Journal, we are a better newspaper, and Lansing benefits.

4. We want good journalists.

Our first consideration when adding people to the writing team is the quality of their journalism. Professional journalism is a very specific craft that requires a mastery of certain skills — knowing whom to contact, conducting a professional interview, organizing all your material into a story that makes sense, meeting deadlines, pitching new story ideas. And yes, correct grammar and spelling are skills that need to be mastered too.

5. You don’t have to be a journalist to have a voice.

You do have to be a journalist to report for The Lansing Journal, but there are other ways to contribute:

  • Opinions: Submit something to our Local Voices feature — if it’s thoughtful and respectful, we’ll publish it.
  • Story ideas: Use our “Submit news tips” form to share ideas or ask questions.
  • Photos: Our award-winning “Lansing Journal journeys” feature and our daily weather post are the two most popular opportunities for local shutterbugs to have their work published.
  • Ads: We love seeing a diversity of businesses, churches, organizations, and events in our pages, and we appreciate your advertising support.

At The Lansing Journal, our role in building community is to keep people informed and connected. We provide local information so that local people can choose how to connect — by attending events, shopping local, voting, hosting block parties, joining the Chamber, and more. If you value this brand of journalism, there are three ways you can help:

  1. Subscribe to the Daily News email (one email each morning, with 2–5 local headlines)
  2. Support The Lansing Journal (every dollar helps)
  3. Encourage others to do Subscribe and Support (we need your help to keep growing)

Support from our community helps cover the cost of reporting, publishing, and delivering local news every day to keep people informed and connected. That’s the kind of newspaper our community deserves.
The leadership team