SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — KELOLAND Media Group already had a foundation when every one of its current employees started to work here. Legacy implies responsibility.

“I think a lot of us always feel the responsibility to not mess it up,” news director Beth Jensen said. “I know when I came here, whether it was a reporter, producer, when I became news director, I just so respected the legacy and all of the work that people had done before I arrived that my biggest concern was I don’t want to let the legacy down. And so I think that’s always our guiding star as we’re moving forward in the future.”

News happens, journalists document it, and the public reads, watches or listens to the ensuing report. Jensen says we’ll find a way to connect people to what’s happening.

“The community’s always going to need local news, local weather, local sports,” she said. “So we’ll pivot, we’ll figure out how to get that information to people. If they want to watch it on their phones, on their TVs, however they want to get that information, that’s our goal, and we’ll do that to serve our viewers the best we can.”

How that information is delivered, of course, has changed dramatically over these seven decades since KELOLAND TV signed on in May 1953. The internet and social media have transformed how people consume news.

“We’ve always had a large digital presence since the website launched in 1997,” said Karen Sherman, digital content manager with KELOLAND Media Group. “Like, we were an early adapter to that, and so that’s something that I do see continuing on is trying to be early adopters of what’s coming next and where the people are.”

Digital coverage, whether that be on our website, app or via social media, is already a massive part of what we do here. Sherman says digital coverage will only become more prominent.

“I think it grows, as it has tremendously in the past few years,” Sherman said.

In previous decades, you had to be in front of or at least within earshot of a television set to receive our coverage. Now in 2023, that reception can and indeed should happen anywhere.

“That’s something I appreciate about digital is that it brings the news to where the people are,” Sherman said.

How we see our website has changed since its launch in the late 90s.

“I’ve seen all the ways we have pivoted over the past two decades,” Jensen said. “And when the internet first came out, there was a real reluctance to post your story online.”

After all, we didn’t want the newscasts to lose their prominence.

“It was such a culture of like, ‘Save everything for five o’clock,’ ‘Save everything for six o’clock,'” Jensen said. “Like, we want to surprise the viewer when they tune into the newscast. Well, that doesn’t work. The viewer doesn’t want that. And so we’d have to say, listen, if you have the information, let’s put it out. Now. The deadline, right now.”

“Before, everybody’s working for their 5, 6 or 10 story, and now it’s, if something’s happening and developing, we need to know what that is so we can get something online, and then we will continue to grow and add to the story throughout the day,” Sherman said.

It’s a similar trajectory for our overall story as a news outlet; we’ll continue to grow and add to it.

“Always be the leader, the market leader,” said Mari Ossenfort, vice president and general manager of KELOLAND Media Group. “That’s who we are, and that’s what we do.”

Ossenfort says consistency is part of our future, too.

“We’ll always stay true to who we are,” Ossenfort said. “Long tradition, appreciate everything that everybody has done before, and we’ll just keep moving forward.”

“What’s next for KELOLAND Media Group, I don’t think the people that founded the station had any clue or idea of what it would develop into or what it’s grown into or become,” Sherman said. “I think that, like I mentioned with the website, being early adapters, looking to innovate, continuing to push ourselves. I think that will continue for the years to come.”