Donald P. Walker
At the age of 15, Donald Walker began his first newspaper job – setting type on a linotype machine in Minnesota at the Crosby-Ironton Courier in Crosby, Minn. Some 44 years later he is recognized as a state and national leader in advancing community journalism as publisher of the Lakeland Times in Minocqua.
After three years in the Navy, Walker had the opportunity to purchase the Times in 1958. At that time, the newspaper had a circulation of 1,000 and a staff of nine. By the late 1970s, the Lakeland Times readership had grown to 10,500 with readers in all 50 states. Today, as a bi-weekly, the newspaper ranks among the top in weekly newspaper in circulation with more than 11,000 readers during the winter months and more than 15,000 during the summer.
Walker has a reputation as an innovator among Wisconsin publishers. In 1974 he was one of the principals in forming a central printing plant to serve several newspapers. The central facility modernized publishing for community newspapers through improved technology and cost-management. Additionally, the Lakeland Times was the first bi-weekly newspaper in northern Wisconsin to adopt a full-color format in every issue, improving readership and advertiser satisfaction. Because of his commitment to community journalism, the Lakeland Times remains family owned in an era when a majority of local newspapers are owned by newspaper groups.
Walker also is a well-respected benefactor of his community. Early in his career he received the Minocqua Jaycees’ distinguished service award, and was one of the founders and presidents of the Minocqua Businessmen’s Association. He has served as a member of the board of the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. As a recent major donor to the Hospice House in Minocqua, his dedication to the better of his community continues.