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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.

Front Page

Post-Signal changes hands

Daniel and Rosemary Thatcher of Hamilton have purchased The Post-Signal, based in Pilot Point, from David and Pam Lewis.

The Lewis’s served as the owners of the newspaper from Sept. 1, 1974, to Jan. 12, and David led the paper as publisher for the duration of their ownership.

The Post-Signal has been part of our family for almost 50 years, and it’s hard to believe that we are no longer affiliated with it,” David said. “Pam and I are happy that we found someone who loves the paper as much as we do to take it over, and we expect Abigail to do us proud. It’s also a point of pride that we are leaving the paper to the first female publisher in The Post-Signal’s long history.”

During that period, the Post-Signal earned 10 Texas Press Association sweepstakes awards for being the best weekly paper in its division in the state and eight North and East Texas Press Association sweepstakes awards.

Richard Greene, an award-winning community journalist himself, worked with David for many years and contributing to four of those TPA sweepstakes awards.

“David Lewis’ impact on Pilot Point and Northeast Denton County is immeasurable,” he said. “As community journalists, our hope is to impact our home by keeping our neighbors informed and make it a better place. Between his thought-provoking columns, countless hours of proofreading and meticulously crafting award-winning issues, he rarely missed the mark. David Lewis is truly one of the finest community journalists.”

Daniel and Rosemary are the parents of Abigail Allen, who has been part of the Post-Signal staff since 2017.

The couple values community journalism and the role it plays in the communities covered by a local newspaper.

“We believe in community newspapers,” Rosemary said. “We enjoy the Hamilton Herald-News here, and I especially enjoyed the one I grew up with. I just think they’re important to record the comings and goings and accomplishments of the area.”

The Thatchers have a background in photography, having owned a photography studio called Camera Magic from 1971-1985, and Daniel has a background in finance management for multiple agricultural businesses.

Their daughter, Kisca Crowe of Providence Village, will manage the newspaper’s finances, while Allen, also of Providence Village, will serve as editor and publisher.

During her tenure at the paper, Allen’s contributions helped the Post-Signal win four consecutive TPA sweepstakes awards and three NETPA sweepstakes awards.

Allen also serves on the NETPA board and is a regular contributor to the Texas Center for Community Journalism.

The Post-Signal tells the stories of the communities along the U.S. 377 corridor northeast of Denton, with Pilot Point, Aubrey, Krugerville, Providence Village, Cross Roads and Tioga being its primary focus.

“We are entrusted by the communities we serve to keep our readers informed of the decisions that affect their lives and to chronicle the life events and challenges our community members face,” Allen said. “I take joy in this work, and my goal is to help preserve the feeling of connection and community that our growing area needs.”

Mike Hodges, executive director of the Texas Press Association, expressed his appreciation to the Lewis’s for the continuous participation in the Texas Press Association and that the Thatcher family is “committed to our association and to working … statewide to help the newspaper industry.”

“That it’s being purchased by a local family—we can’t ask for anything better than that for the future of the newspaper and our industry,” Hodges said.

For more information about the newspaper, visit

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Naples newspaper returns after year-long hiatus

Sierra Wells/TCCJ contributor

Despite facing unexpected obstacles over the past few years, local newspaper in Naples, Texas, has persevered and is continuing to print new editions after a nearly a year out of print.

“The Naples Monitor was established in 1886 and is the oldest continuing business in Naples, Texas,” Owner Morris Craig said.

Morris and Melba Craig took over ownership of The Monitor in 1972.

The Monitor covers all types of news from Bowie, Cass, Morris and Titus County. They print about 1,200 papers each week, as well as the occasional special edition.

“Special editions are always put together at Christmas, Easter and some local Naples Watermelon Festival specials,” Morris said. “We also did a sports special edition a couple of times when the Paul H. Pewitt Brahmas won the Class AA football State Championship and then another time when the Bulls made it to the State Finals,”

In 2010, the Texas Press Association presented Morris with their Golden 50 Award, honoring his long career in the news industry.

However, the Craigs’ service in the news industry was interrupted when Morris was diagnosed with stage four cancer. During this time, their last set of papers for a while printed on July 15, 2021.

“We were not sure about the future at that time, and we had The Monitor on the For Sale market,” Morris said.

Months passed without a new edition. This, however, was not the end of The Monitor. Over time, things started looking up for Melba and Morris.

After receiving good news from the oncologist, the Craigs decided to return to their newspaper and start printing again.

“We had a couple of bedrooms that were not being used since our children had gone out into the world on their own. We moved the needed equipment from the downtown area to our remodeled rooms at our home,” Morris said. “New equipment was purchased and a grandson was offering to help with the new typesetting equipment and new programs.”

Their first edition back from hiatus printed in July 2022, marking the official return of The Monitor.

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Founding Director inducted into Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame

TCCJ founder Tommy Thomason was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in June 2021 at the Texas Press Association 141st annual convention in Denton, Texas.

Thomason retired in 2019 after teaching and mentoring journalism students for 35 years at the Texas Christian University Department of Journalism/Bob Schieffer College of Communication and the Texas Center for Community Journalism. While at the Schieffer College, Thomason taught many courses in communication, writing, history of mass media, reporting and media ethics.

Before his career at TCU, Thomason was a sportswriter with the Little Rock bureau of the Associated Press and director of sports information at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

He served Dallas Baptist University as director of public relations and was a columnist, copy editor and contributing editor with magazines in the DFW metroplex.

Thomason graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ouachita Baptist in 1970. He received a master’s degree and a doctorate in journalism from Texas A&M University-Commerce in 1972 and 1984, respectively. He also attended the University of Virginia and the Dallas Theological Seminary for additional graduate work.

Not only did he teach, he also applied and received $717,847 in grants over the years to support research, training and seminars. Of that amount, $509,247 was from the Texas Newspaper Foundation to conduct seminars for working journalists. Texas publishers, editors and reporters convened on the TCU campus to tackle issues common in community newspapers — refining reporting skills, utilizing the web, mobile journalism and newspaper design.

“Without question, forming the Texas Center for Community Journalism was the single best decision our Foundation has ever made. We had an idea; Tommy Thomason took it and ran with it,” said Larry Jackson, retired publisher of The Fayette County Record and Texas Newspaper Foundation board member.
Thomason has been a guest speaker at national and regional newspaper association workshops, a moderator, judge, panelist, advisor and consultant. He is the recipient of the National Teaching Award from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, is listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Dictionary of International Biography, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the World, Men of Achievement, Who’s Who in the Media and Communications, Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He has also been a board member and held offices in many professional organizations such as International Institute of Literacy Learning, National Network for Education Improvement Initiatives and Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
Thomason is an author of nine books about journalism, one on music and a children’s book. He also has authored technical reports and academic papers over his career.

Thomason was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Austin Lewter, a veteran newspaperman who now serves as the director of the Center.