Soon after uprooting their lives to take on the new challenge of owning a newspaper, Brenda and Jim McLane told their staff that they planned to run it for five years before retiring.
And, as the McLanes have consistently kept their word to their employees and the community, that’s what they did.
As of Oct. 1, the Lincoln High School sweethearts sold Western Wayne News to another Wayne County family with deep community roots.
Chris Hardie has become Western Wayne News’ publisher and owner. He plans to join the current staff as they provide the news that readers want and need, and he wants to connect with even more current and former residents who could benefit from that information.
Hardie, who has worked in information technology for 25 years while living in Richmond, has described himself as a software developer, digital media consultant and entrepreneur focused on the intersections of journalism, technology, local news and civic engagement.
Hardie completed a master’s degree in journalism at Ball State University in July, and he has served as a digital media consultant for WWN for a few years.
He has helped the WWN staff improve the functionality of its website, which recently was renamed to westernwaynenews.com for easier discovery.
Hardie’s entrepreneurship experience also includes co-founding and managing Summersault LLC, a Richmond-based website development firm, from 1997 to 2014.
Hardie’s wife, Kelly Burk, has lived in Wayne County for nearly as many years. Burk recently earned a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, and will remain professionally focused on providing psychotherapy to Hoosiers. Burk previously served as a church pastor and hospital and college/university chaplain.
In addition to their challenging work, the couple also are busy raising their young daughter.
The McLanes will continue living in Cambridge City and staying engaged with various projects and organizations. They are eager to spend more time with their children and grandchildren and travel, and those passions became even more important to them after the pandemic.
Brenda’s mother, Janis Buhl-Macy, sold the paper she founded to the McLanes in 2017. Buhl-Macy continued working into her late 70s until she could find someone she trusted to continue the paper, and the McLanes also were diligent in making sure Hardie was the best choice for the publication’s future.
In order to Buhl-Macy’s important work, the McLanes made many sacrifices. They left their beloved Bloomington, and until the couple finalized a home purchase, Brenda divided time for months at her mom and stepdad’s house and a local bed and breakfast.
And, until his retirement earlier this year, Jim continued working at the life sciences manufacturer Boston Scientific in Spencer, spending many hours on the road and in a rented room.
Jim, an avid hiker, will continue owning Winning Streak Antiques, serving on Cambridge City’s town council and Cambridge City Main Street’s board, and booking lodging customers for The Lofts on Main, which the McLanes co-own.
Brenda will continue in a consulting role for a few months with the newspaper during the transition.
She also remains active with many community boards and committees, such as Wayne County Foundation, Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University East’s Board of Advisors and the search committee for a new IU East chancellor. She also is passionate about reducing community blight.
Letter from Brenda and Jim McLane
A little over five years ago we took a huge leap of faith and purchased the Western Wayne News and Nettle Creek Gazette from Brenda’s mother, Janis Buhl-Macy. It was not an easy decision, but we felt it was the right decision for us, at that time in our life.
Thanks to a wonderful staff, it has been an incredible five years. In a time when many newspapers are struggling, we have continued to put out a quality newspaper that has supplied local news to the area. It has been an honor to follow behind Janis and continue the service that she started more than 31 years ago for the Western Wayne area.
In those five years we combined the two newspapers into one much larger one and stretched our reach to include the entire county. In turn, Wayne County has embraced the Western Wayne News – and for that we are extremely grateful.
Now it is time for another big change. We have sold the Western Wayne News to Civic Spark Media LLC, owned by Chris Hardie of Richmond. The newspaper industry continues to evolve, and the energy, talent and passion Chris brings will propel the newspaper to the next level.
Chris feels as strongly as we do that local newspapers are essential, bringing pertinent stories to residents and serving as a government watchdog. We are confident it is the right time, the right decision, and Chris is the right person to sustain the Western Wayne News for generations to come. Read more about Chris and his philosophies on local newspaper publishing, in this issue.
We would like to thank each and every reader, all our advertisers, our incredible staff, and good friends and family who have supported us the last five plus years. It has been our honor to bring you the news.
Brenda will stay with the newspaper during the transition, and we will continue to support the newspaper and the community. We ask that you do the same. Wayne County is in good hands with Chris Hardie and Civic Spark Media at the helm of the Western Wayne News. It will be exciting to see what is next!
Letter from Chris Hardie
It’s my honor and pleasure to be joining the Western Wayne News as its new publisher and owner. I’m looking forward to continuing its history and place in our community as a publication that people from all parts of Wayne County turn to to find out what’s happening, celebrate our successes, confront our challenges, and build connections with our neighbors.
In case we haven’t met, let me introduce myself. I’m Chris Hardie, and I live in Richmond with my wife and our daughter. I came to Wayne County in 1995; though I didn’t originally intend to stay, and have since had a professional career that’s helped me travel the world, I’m fortunate that I quickly began to discover the local landscapes, people, ideas and opportunities that ground me here. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to contribute to the community through my local entrepreneurship, volunteering for various organizations, consulting and mentoring, and writing and thinking about how to make this an even better place to be.
Much of that thinking has been around how and where people get their information, and what that means for the decisions we make: what’s important? What do we hope for? What do we try to change? When I first began consulting with this newspaper a few years ago, I saw how Brenda and Jim McLane’s vision for a local community newspaper — and their work alongside an amazing staff to live that vision out — had become essential to this ongoing community conversation. When we began to discuss their long-term hopes for what the future of the paper could be, I found myself deeply excited to think how I could be a part of the next phase. And here we are.
I could go on about the critical importance of independent, local journalism or the need to have a thoughtful, trusted source of news and events, but you may already think the same way if you’re reading this. I also have plenty of ideas to expand on what the Western Wayne News is and who we reach, but in the end it will simply come down to the question of whether we are meeting your needs for information, accountability, engagement and connection, to each other and to our area.
I’m ready to embrace that challenge, and welcome your feedback and suggestions along the way. (You can drop me a note at email@example.com or come to one of the community listening events we’ll be announcing soon.) I’m grateful to Jim and Brenda for this opportunity, and wish them the very best in what’s next. I’m appreciative of the paper’s staff for their confidence and enthusiasm to take this new chapter on together. Finally, I thank you, our readers, subscribers and supporters, for caring about the Western Wayne News.