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Brand new Iowa Park Journal rolls off the press

The city of Iowa Park, Texas has a newspaper once again after losing local coverage more than a year ago.

The first edition of the Iowa Park Journal rolled off the press and into newsstands Thursday, Feb 1. The community celebrated with ribbon cutting downtown.

“Our community lost a little of itself when the previous newspaper closed,” Iowa Park EDC director David Owen said. “No one was telling our stories. Our businesses lost an avenue to advertise… we are thrilled to have a newspaper again.”

The legacy paper, the Iowa Park Leader, closed its doors 18 months ago.

“We made an effort to buy the Leader then,” Journal publisher Daniel Walker said. “That didn’t work out and that’s okay. We are starting something brand new here and it is exciting.”

Walker also owns the Vernon Record, the Burkburnett Informer Star and the Clay County Leader in Henrietta.

“Iowa Park is so close in proximity to our other papers that it’s a natural fit,” Walker said. “And the community has welcomed us with open arms.”

According to Walker, Iowa Park city leaders reached out six months ago. They explained their plight without a newspaper and offered his company some incentives to take a chance on a new publication in Wichita County.

Walker reached out to the Texas Center for Community Journalism (TCCJ) for some advice on best practices and, soon thereafter, the ball was rolling.

“It was an exciting phone call,” TCCJ director Austin Lewter said. “All we hear in national headlines is the downfall of the community newspaper. I don’t buy it and the evidence bears that out. There are new newsroom starts popping up all over the country. We are excited to see it happening in Texas. The fact that city reached out is proof that local news matters.”

Lewter said, folks found out what it was like to lose their newspaper and city leaders wanted to fix that.

“It’s a testament that every community in the state and the nation needs to know about that. These leaders in this community saw a need,” Lewter said. “They saw that nobody’s covering local news like the local newspaper can. They saw that businesses need somewhere to advertise. They saw that Facebook doesn’t work.”

Lewter made some suggestions and the Center helped secure circulation supplies for the upstart paper.

“The TCCJ has been integral to this project from day-one. We appreciate all the help and support we’ve received from Austin and his team,” Walker said.

In an introductory column published in the Journal’s first issue, Walker explained that papers would be distributed for by hand until word spreads and they qualify to apply for a Periodical Mailing Permit.

“We are not making a big push for (mail) subscriptions yet,” Walker wrote. “For now, we are going to hand deliver subscriptions, sell them at vendors and from coin-operated racks.”

Walker also said becoming a newspaper of general circulation requires a year of consistent publishing.

“With this edition, we have begun that process,” Walker wrote. “Until that year passes, we cannot print legally binding public notices. Fortunately, the Burkburnett newspaper is a legal newspaper in Wichita County, and any legal notices they print, we are going to reprint for free in the Iowa Park newspaper.”

The newspaper office is located at 121 West Park in downtown Iowa Park.

Charles Ashley will serve as assistant publisher and Bill Humphrey is the newspaper’s editor.

Readers can contact Humphrey with story ideas by emailing [email protected].

Jesse James is the advertising director.

The paper has launched a new website as well. You can read online at

Walker will discuss the upstart’s story at a TCCJ symposium Feb. 29 at the University of Texas in Austin.

He will be one of several community journalists discussing “Courage, Tenacity, Integrity and Innovation in Rural Journalism,” in a free, one-day conference hosted by the TCCJ, the Institute for Rural Journalism and the Center for Ethical Leadership in Media.

“I am thrilled to have Mr. Walker on our afternoon panel focusing on innovation in community journalism,” Lewter said. “The success story in Iowa Park is proof-positive that community journalism is alive and well. Contradicting the popular narrative is the very definition of ‘innovation’— in my book.”

For more information about the TCCJ event, visit the Center’s website

Housed at Tarleton State University, the Texas Center for Community Journalism is committed to providing world class training and support to mid-level professionals at community newsrooms across the state.