With great challenge comes great opportunity — and those who don’t embrace it will be left behind. That was the message for a campus and community audience March 13, when UW-Green Bay alumna and top media executive Laura Hollingsworth spoke at the University’s After Thoughts series for women. A 1989 grad who is now president and publisher of The Des Moines Register, Hollingsworth offered a frank assessment of the changing media landscape — and what it means to lead through trying times.
“How do you get through, how do you see — what are the steps you take?” Hollingsworth said. “What — how do you lead? And we’ve learned a lot about that in the last several years, and been through a lot. So I’m doing a little bit of sharing — not teaching, sharing — about that experience.”
Hollingsworth, who achieved her goal of becoming the head of a major newspaper by age 40, said the 2008 recession changed everything for the media biz. Today’s newspapers, by necessity, have to be so much more.
“We kind of look at it as breaking news, what’s happening right now — that’s mobile, that’s tablet,” Hollingsworth said. “On the web, give me a little bit more; take that a little further. In print, on your Sunday experience — tell me why it matters; what does that look like? Give me what that feels like, in a robust experience.”
Hollingsworth was the fifth speaker to take the stage for the one-year-old After Thoughts series. Organizers of the program said she perfectly embodies its purpose to gather women to embrace and discuss the issues of the day.
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute to the education you can get at (UW-)GB,” said After Thoughts committee member Suzy Pfeifer. “But she also just seems like a wonderfully involved woman leader who fits right into what we want to showcase in this series.”
The After Thoughts event gave Hollingsworth another welcome opportunity to connect with her alma mater. She has spoken at commencement, and in 2011 was named a distinguished alumna. Recently, Hollingsworth established a UW-Green Bay scholarship for Communication. It’s a program — and an education — she knows can make a difference.
“You know, it was everything. I remember, even, standing up in speech class and having to deliver speeches — and how uncomfortable, years ago, I was doing that,” Hollingsworth said. “And all of my training in broadcast journalism or communication skills at University of Wisconsin-green Bay, I mean I couldn’t have done what I’m doing without that.”