This project addresses the rural journalism leadership crisis, offering insights and practical tools to support Texas community newspapers.

Project Goals: The Texas Rural Journalism Pipeline project, initiated in Fall 2021, aimed to address the leadership crisis in rural journalism in Texas. It focused on understanding the challenges facing rural newspapers, demographics of newspaper owners, and the future of weekly newspapers.

Key Findings:

  • A survey revealed that one-third of Texas publishers wanted to sell, with age being a significant factor. More than half reported making a profit in 2021.
  • Interviews highlighted the challenges owners face when selling newspapers.
  • A survey of veteran journalists showed limited interest in buying community newspapers.
  • Working journalists in Texas expressed concerns about financing, profitability, business acumen, and community acceptance when considering newspaper ownership.

Practical Application: The project engaged with the Texas Press Association and stakeholders to address the leadership pipeline issue. It explored collaborations and discussions to support rural journalism.

Future Steps: The project identified the need for minimum standards in rural journalism positions and a coordinated approach to address immediate crises.

Toolkits: Two toolkits are being developed, one focusing on transitioning newspapers to non-profit status, and another to help owners set realistic selling prices.  Both toolkits are available on our Texas Rural Journalism Pipeline Project website, another legacy of this project. 

Additional Article:

McElroy, K. (2022, March 15).  “Looking for a new journalism gig? Consider small newspaper ownership,” 

Building Rural Journalism: Leadership and Training


Research Team

Kathleen McElroy

Professor, Moody College of Communication, Director of School of Journalism Publications