The News and KalonaNews.com are family-owned publications that cover north Washington County and south Johnson County in eastern Iowa. The newspaper and website are owned by Jim and Bridget Johnson.

They are actively involved in producing the newspaper day-in and day-out. If you stop by the office in Kalona, you’ll often see Bridget designing and selling advertising and Jim working with editors on the next edition.

The Johnsons met while working for the college newspaper at the University of California at Riverside. They have been working for newspapers ever since. Jim this year celebrated his 50th year working for newspapers. He started as a newspaper carrier in Fremont, Calif., in July 1969.

The Johnsons bring a passion for community journalism that is obvious to anyone meeting them. Their goal is to create a news organization that produces products renowned for excellence in journalism and advertising.

In October 2016, the Johnsons bought five newspapers serving four communities along Highway 22 just south of Iowa City – Wellman, Kalona, Riverside and Lone Tree. Each newspaper brought a long history. 

The Wellman Advance: The Wellman Advance was established Sept. 13, 1889, by William Reed and W.F. Reinert. The newspaper’s slogan – “The only newspaper that gives two whoops about Wellman” – still describes The News’ dedication to covering Wellman.

The Lone Tree Reporter: The Lone Tree Reporter was first published in December 1890. Editor W.H. Younkin promoted the value of The Newspaper. “No town ever amounted to shucks unless it supported a newspaper. There is no one thing that does so much to get a town before the people and bring people and businesses to it as a good local newspaper.”

The Kalona News: The first issue of The Kalona News was published on Nov. 19, 1891, and continues as Kalona’s oldest continuously operating business. Emma Allen Dunlap founded The Kalona News. Dunlap espoused a philosophy that still guides the newspaper today: “With a firm belief in the town and its future we shall do our utmost for the interest of Kalona and the surrounding country, and trust that your patronage will enable us to make The News a first-class local paper. The better a paper is the more valuable it is to a town.”

The Riverside Current: The Riverside Current was established in 1978 by Barbara Kiene. It was first published as a weekly tabloid until 2010 when it began printing as a broadsheet. Prior to The Current, The Riverside News and Shopper printed its first edition in July 1955. It was published by The Lone Tree Reporter. Marge Luckey was the editor.

The Highland Review: The Highland Review was a free newspaper mailed to all households in Riverside and Ainsworth.

The five newspapers were previously owned by two companies, Slechta Communications and Three Chicks Publications. The newspapers were combined into a single, larger newspaper in 2016 called The News, which continues to cover all of the communities.

 All of these newspapers have a long history of serving their communities. The News continues this long tradition of excellence with the news and advertising delivered to readers in north Washington County and south Johnson County through The News published every Thursday and digital products delivering news and advertising daily.

The News is designated an official newspaper of Washington and Johnson counties; the cities of Kalona, Wellman, Riverside and Lone Tree; and the Mid-Prairie, Highland and Lone Tree school districts.

The Johnsons are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated staff, a staff that works every day to publish products – both in print and online – that meet the news and advertising needs of readers. The talents of the staff are reflected in the awards it receives from the Iowa Newspaper Association. In 2019, The newspaper was honored with five awards:

  • First place, best coverage of education.
  • First place, best personality feature.
  • Second place, best sports feature photo.
  • Second place, best real estate ad.
  • Third place, best ad designer.

It is the goal of The News and KalonaNews.com to provide readers with the most comprehensive coverage of news, photos, sports, features and advertising of any publication in north Washington County and south Johnson County. The goal is to keep readers informed about the activities in the cities of Kalona, Wellman, Riverside and Lone Tree plus the Mid-Prairie, Hillcrest Academy, Highland and Lone Tree schools.

These are the people who deliver that promise every week:

Jim Johnson/Publisher (Publisher@KalonaNews.com)

Jim Johnson is the publisher of The News. He and his wife, Bridget, are owners of the newspaper and work together with the rest of the newspaper staff to produce a publication dedicated to quality journalism and advertising. As publisher, Jim does a little of everything: selling advertising, writing stories and shooting photos.

Jim worked for 15 years at the Omaha World-Herald newspaper in a variety of corporate and newsroom roles. Prior to the World-Herald, he held newsroom leadership positions in Lincoln, Neb.; and at California newspapers in Riverside, Fontana, Ontario and Redlands.

He is active in the community serving on the board of directors for the Kalona Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Kalona Rotary Club. He previously served on the executive board of the Hawkeye Area Council of the Boy Scouts. Jim and Bridget have three grown children.

Bridget Johnson/Advertising Manager (AdSales@KalonaNews.com)

Bridget Johnson is the advertising manager for the newspaper. She and her husband, Jim, are owners of the newspaper. She is responsible for working with News advertisers to develop advertising campaigns that get results.

After graduating with a studio art degree from the University of California at Riverside, Bridget started her newspaper career at the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper where she was the marketing department graphic designer. She also designed feature pages for the newspaper. When she has free time, Bridget enjoys painting and reading.

Jim and Bridget have three grown children.

Colette Yoder/Office Manager (Admin@KalonaNews.com)

Colette Yoder is the office manager for The News. She is usually the first person you see when you walk in our B Avenue office. Her responsibilities include classified and legal advertising, obituaries and subscriptions.

She has been at The News for 10 years. Prior to that, she worked with her mom and dad at Ellen’s Sewing Center where the Kalona Brewing Company is now located. In addition to the sewing shop, the family held flea markets and craft shows in the building.

Colette grew up in Kalona and graduated from Iowa Mennonite School. She attended business college in Mason City. She has three boys. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing.

James Jennings/News Editor (News@KalonaNews.com)

James Jennings is the news editor of The News. As news editor, he is the primary writer and photographer, covering a wide variety of events and stories in the communities covered by The News.

James has been in the newspaper business for nearly 20 years, working in Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Iowa, and was owner and publisher of the newspaper in Montezuma for more than two years.

He has two children in college and two more in the Mid-Prairie School District. He lives in Kalona with his soon-to-be wife, Molly, and their cat, Chuck. A native of New England, James is an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan.

Nick Moffitt/Sports Editor (Sports@KalonaNews.com)

Nick Moffitt is the sports editor of The News, covering athletes in Johnson and Washington counties. A big sports fan, Nick follows the Iowa Hawkeyes and, despite their faults, the New York Giants and the New York Knicks.

Prior to working at The News, Nick worked at the Clinton Herald and The Daily Iowan. Nick is a 2015 graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism and a minor in history. He grew up in the Quad Cities and currently lives in Iowa City.

Outside of work, Nick enjoys reading about American history and watching movies.

Anna Kahn/Graphic Designer (Graphics@KalonaNews.com)

Anna Kahn is the graphic designer for The News. She creates ads, does page layouts and updates the website. Anna has worked as a graphic designer for the past two years. This is her second stint in Kalona where she worked from 2015 to 2016.

Anna grew up in Iowa City and graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design. In her free time she likes to play the piano, DJ and play with her two cats.