At Wyoming Newspapers, Mark DeLap does it all

Teri Saylor

Special to Publishers' Auxiliary

Aug 1, 2022

Wheatland, Wyoming, and Guernsey, Wyoming, are about 30 miles apart, and DeLap covers both with little overlap in stories.

If anyone can be in multiple places at the same time, it is Mark DeLap.

Author, journalist, photographer and musician, DeLap is something of a renaissance man and can often be seen wearing one of his favorite T-shirts that reads, “I thrive in the drive.”

“My passions drive me to pursue writing and photography, and I play monthly benefit concerts for senior citizens and at various fundraising events,” he said in a recent phone interview.

DeLap is editor of two Wyoming newspapers — the Platte County Record-Times in Wheatland and the Guernsey Gazette in southeastern Wyoming. Both are part of Wyoming Newspapers, a group of local newspapers covering 11 communities. The group publisher is Rob Mortimore.

Wheatland and Guernsey are about 30 miles apart, and DeLap covers both with little overlap in stories. Long hours come with the territory. He spends as many as 30 hours on weekends chugging toward his Monday morning deadline.

“Sometimes, finding time for activities outside of work can be a real challenge,” he explained. “It can be stressful, but I thrive in this environment.”

Across 66 revolutions around the sun, DeLap has packed in a lot of living, working and learning.

He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism education from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, has written and published five books and spent two years depicting life in small-town America for National Geographic. He has been a pastor and a youth basketball coach for his entire adult life and is an accomplished musician. Before joining Wyoming Newspapers nearly three years ago, he was managing editor of Steele County Times and Dodge County Independent in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, and managing editor at Iowa Information in Sioux City.

DeLap says he was drawn to Wyoming for the opportunity to live in a small town, to pursue his passion for wildlife photography and for the chance to continue his career as an editor.

“I know you don’t become rich and famous as a small-town editor, but this is a job I enjoy,” he said. “I’m tired at night when I put my head on my pillow, but it’s a good kind of tired, and it’s all worth it to feel at peace.”

In journalism school, DeLap’s favorite professor was the one who gave him an “F” on his most important project. Some students might admit defeat and quit, but DeLap was energized.

“My professor once worked for the Chicago Daily News, and he taught layout and design,” he recalled. “He flunked me after I misspelled “Pittsburgh” in a headline.”

DeLap had left the “h” off the end of the city’s name, and his failure made up 75% of this total grade for the course. He has never forgotten what that felt like and learned one of the most valuable lessons of his career.

“I had to bust my butt that semester to get a passing grade, but that experience taught me ‘pay attention to detail,’” he said.

DeLap feels fortunate to work at a job he loves. He is the only journalist on staff at the Record-Times and the Gazette, and he does it all for both newspapers — covering everything from local government to sports, human interest and local events, and that includes trying to be in more than one place at the same time.

The newspapers cover four towns, and he relies on interns, technology and citizen journalists in the community to help when he’s spread too thin.

“It’s hardest when events like Fourth of July parades or Christmas parades in our towns are going on simultaneously,” he said. “This is the busiest small community I’ve ever lived in, especially in the summertime when there are festivals, concerts, barbecues and other events going on every weekend.”

DeLap reckons he has been writing for 50 years, dating back to his high school years when he was on the staff of his school newspaper. He won a Voice of Democracy writing contest and never looked back. He attended college on both athletic and music scholarships, but an injury after his freshman year almost paralyzed him. He recovered and played basketball his senior year and went on to play in Australia. And he became a runner.

“For somebody that was never supposed to walk again, I think I’m doing OK,” he said.

DeLap is a true believer that part of his role as the local newspaper editor is to be an integral part of his community.

“This cannot be just a job. It must be your passion,” he said. “I don’t think you can run a small newspaper today without that kind of passion.”

He mourns the changes he sees in young reporters coming out of college with degrees in communication and multimedia skills rather than the boots-on-the-ground reporters of yesteryear.

“We don’t have a lot of old-school journalists left, and thank goodness for the ones that are still hanging onto the romance of newspapers and the reasons they got into this business in the first place,” he said.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the population of Wheatland is 3,500, and the population of Guernsey is 1,000. Combined circulation for the two newspapers is over 2,000. Newspapers are printed at the Torrington Telegram, the company’s flagship publication, and distributed on racks and through the mail.

Along the way, the newspaper has racked up many awards, including a general excellence award from the Wyoming Newspaper Association in 2021.

DeLap maintains lively Facebook pages for the newspapers, filling them with colorful community announcements, videos of local performers and children chasing goats. He includes photos of kids winning awards, athletes in action and retiring adults. He posts breaking news, newspaper teasers and sponsored content. Combined, the two newspapers’ Facebook pages have over 3,000 “likes.”

Not long after DeLap started working for Wyoming Newspapers, he was out collecting photos and information for the Record-Times’ graduation tab and learned that some seniors could not afford graduation pictures. He saw an opportunity to make a change.

“There should never be a reason for any student to be left out of their high school yearbook,” he said. “So I started offering to take graduation pictures pro bono for kids who couldn’t afford to pay for them.”

Last year, DeLap created “Homespun,” a video podcast featuring individuals across Wyoming. Episodes can be found on DeLap’s YouTube channel and the newspaper’s website. “Homespun” treats viewers to stories about local folks from all walks of life — the state’s First Lady, the owners of the Wandering Hermit bookstore, basketball coaches-turned-cattle wranglers at the Longhorn Cattle Ranch and many more.

DeLap recalls a trip to Washington, D.C., about 30 years ago, when a U.S. senator told him his career in newspapers was going the way of the dinosaurs.

“I told him that until CNN wants to go to my son’s basketball games and put his name in the news, there will always be a place for community newspapers,” he said.

For DeLap, working in newspapers is all about making magic happen every day, whether it’s squeezing a great photo into a page at the last minute, putting another week’s issue to bed or hustling off to cover a town meeting with just enough time to spare for getting a few shots of a community baseball game.

All in a day’s work.

DeLap, who has enjoyed a full career, has no desire to stop or even slow down.

“I’m 66 years old. Can I keep this up forever? The answer is yes,” he said and laughed. “I may be moving a little slower 40 years from now, but I’ll still be going.”

Teri Saylor is a business writer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Contact her at