How Michael Glenn, a 16-year-old high school student, saved his town from becoming a news desert


“Let's start a newspaper!” It is a very challenging idea even for an experienced publisher, editor or journalist with the necessary business acumen and sources of capital. However, when a 16-year-old high school student declares such an intention, few would bet on its success — unless they were betting on Michael Glenn. Glenn is that high school student, and his launch of The Hutchinson (Kansas) Tribune in the summer of 2023 has achieved early success and amazed everyone in his community.

Glenn’s story is uplifting and a clear indication some young people understand the importance of local news — and are eager and energized to stop their communities from becoming news deserts. It’s also a story of total support from Glenn's parents, teachers, mentors, civic leaders and friends.

Production of “Curtains” at Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson. Left to right, Maggie Bourell, Adam Gust, Michael Glenn and Lauren Harding

Glenn’s journey to The Hutchinson Tribune started with participating in the debate and drama programs at his high school, Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson. According to Karin Neal, the school's drama and debate teacher, debate is a popular program at Kansas high schools. Students have done exceptionally well in competitions and are known for being excellent debaters.

High school debaters must read the news constantly because debates are often based on current topics and issues. Neal purchased subscriptions to different newspapers to support her debaters so they had news sources to prepare for their arguments.

Karin Neal, drama and debate teacher, Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson

“During one of our classes, Michael mentioned our long-term newspaper, the Hutchinson News, was declining. He said reporters were being laid off or leaving the paper, and there wasn’t much local reporting. I think that’s where his interest in journalism and news started,” Neal said.

Neal added that being on stage and performing in the school’s drama classes and productions empowers him and other students to be more confident, speak clearly and react to what others say. These skills have helped Glenn approach and interview civic and community leaders.

“Michael is so much older than his 16 years. He has gained the respect of so many people in the community. The men and women he has interviewed and with whom he has created relationships think what he is doing is absolutely amazing. I’m so proud of Michael that he is doing something very special,” Neal said.

The light-bulb moment

Michael Glenn and Gina Long, co-owners of The Hutchinson Tribune

Glenn is a member of a philosophy book club at a local bookstore, where he met Gina Long. During one of their conversations, Glenn said he would like to learn more about local news. He knew Long worked at the local library in the reference department, and she showed him various newspapers to read and study.

“When Gina and I were doing some background research in June about the Hutchinson News and the local news desert, I had a light-bulb moment and said, ‘Let’s start a newspaper.’ It wasn’t a long or in-depth discussion. I attended the next city council meeting, took notes and wrote the first article, which we published on the 4th of July,” Glenn said.

“I didn’t expect that first article to kick off something as large as what we’re doing now. I had a vision that we could become the paper in Hutchinson, but I never expected it to come to full fruition. We just hit 300 articles yesterday (Nov. 20) and are receiving 1,500 clicks a day.”

Glenn was encouraged to bring an adult on board to help write content and give the publication more legitimacy, so he asked Long to be his partner and co-owner. Glenn writes the local news, and Long covers the local arts and cultural scene. The remainder of the staff are freelancers.

Glenn and Long introduced a paywall to support themselves and their freelancers in September and October. With Long’s MBA and financial background, they quickly organized the business side of operating a newspaper.

“I never expected I would be a part-time reporter, part-time business owner and part-time salesman now that we’ve finalized our marketing plan. I realized once we started generating more revenue that this is a business, not just a blog. Essentially, this is a full-blown business publication,” Glenn said.

Questions and more questions for a mentor

Joey Young, majority owner of Kansas Publishing Ventures

During their library research, Long recommended that Glenn speak with Joey Young. He is the majority owner of Kansas Publishing Ventures and its three newspapers in nearby South-Central Kansas. Glenn said he called Young before he had any notion of starting a newspaper.

“Michael called me and left a message asking, ‘Why is your paper in a town half the size of Hutchinson so much better than the Hutchinson News?’ I thought it was a weird voicemail. I returned the call, and after talking with Michael for a few minutes, I realized he was 16. I was fascinated,” Young said.

Young invited Glenn and his managing editor, Adam Strunk, to join him at Young’s parents’ coffee shop in Hutchinson. Glenn grilled them for two hours about how they would start and operate a newspaper.

“Adam and I thought Michael was just interested in the newspaper business. If a young person is interested in how newspapers work, I want to make time for them. I said not to start with a print publication, and Adam suggested a Substack platform because there's no overhead. Adam said to just start doing journalism and see if people pay for it,” Young said.

“Ten days later, we started receiving links to The Hutchinson Tribune. He just did it. I thought he might work at one of our papers or start his own when he becomes an adult. I never once thought he would start a publication in Hutchinson. I was dumbfounded,” stated Young.

In this episode of "E&P Reports," E&P goes one-on-one with 16-year-old Hutchinson, Kansas, high school student Michael Glenn, who became frustrated when his local Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper The Hutchinson (Kansas) News, was sold to Gannett and downsized to a "ghost paper." So, in the summer of 2023, Glenn recruited a team of journalists and started the competing Hutchinson Tribune at, which now out-reports the site 36 local stories to six (on the day of this posting).

Young added that Glenn calls him once or twice weekly with more questions. Young encouraged him to reinvest in the content, hire freelancers and focus on growing subscriptions. He also signed up Glenn for the Earn Your Press Pass Program, which prepares laypeople to become community reporters without a journalism degree. He encouraged all the staff and freelancers to participate in the program, too.

“I don’t believe you need a journalism degree to do what Michael is doing. We need to break down the barriers in our industry, and we can use Michael as an example. There are many disadvantaged and rural communities, and they need someone willing to sit in the back of the room while the local government makes decisions, report those stories and charge for it,” Young said.

Despite being a 16-year-old newspaper publisher, Glenn said the responsibilities haven’t affected his schoolwork or enjoying a teenager’s life. Glenn knows he will face a difficult decision when he starts college in the fall of 2025. Young advised Glenn to increase the value of the Tribune so that if he had to sell his interest, there would be buyers.

“I told Michael that his exit strategy will come into focus if you just keep growing your subscription base. A college scholarship program will respond, ‘You did what?’ and trip over their feet to give Michael a full scholarship. If he sticks with the Tribune, he will go to college for free,” Young said.

Bob Sillick has held many senior positions and served a myriad of clients during his 47 years in marketing and advertising. He has been a freelance/contract content researcher, writer, editor and manager since 2010. He can be reached at


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here