Multimedia reporter Dave Toplikar

Shooting videos, photos and writing are just a few of the many tasks Multimedia Reporter Dave Toplikar takes on at the Lawrence Journal-World in Lawrence, Kan. Toplikar has been working for the Journal-World for the past 28 years, making his way up through the ranks and taking advantage of the industry’s shift toward online journalism.

“Going in every day and getting to do something very creative with either video, audio or writing” is the best part of Toplikar’s job he said.

Called “the newspaper of the future” by The New York Times, the LJW is at the cutting edge of the journalism industry. The LJW features a fully interactive Web site featuring sound-embedded photo slideshows, videos and even iPod friendly downloadable stories.

“Online journalism is the best way to move up quickly,” Toplikar said to students while visiting in the University of Iowa in March. He also stressed the importance of students learning video while they are still in school to increase chances of finding a job after graduation.

Toplikar who was born in 1955 in Olathe, Kan., got a job at the Coffeyville Journal after graduating from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He switched his major from architecture to journalism in his first semester and said that the combination of working at his high school newspaper and his love for reading the local paper influenced his decision for the change.

“Architecture just seemed hard,” he said with a laugh while talking inside The Daily Iowan newsroom. Going back to his hometown of Lawrence to work at the LJW in 1979 was a dream job.

Writing the front-page story the day that the University of Kansas won the National Basketball Championship in 1988 is one of Toplikar’s fondest memories with the paper.

“It’s amazing that particular story still gets play,” Toplikar said referring to the story being displayed in bars and buildings in Lawrence, “it’s fun to be a little part of that history.”

His advice for companies that are eager to follow in his newspaper’s footsteps: “treating all major news stories as the opportunity to use audio, video, extra documents, polls and even online chats to ‘webify’ the story.” Toplikar also stressed being a leader of breaking news in the area.

Toplikar, who seems to never rest, said the moment he returns home he would like to start learning more about being a television reporter. Hoping to eventually put together entire packages for his company’s attached TV station, “I feel that would make me a true multimedia reporter.”