Rural Publication Leadership Project

speakers at rural pipeline seminar
The Rural Journalism Pipeline Project

University of Texas at Austin professor Dr. Kathleen McElroy and Mark Henry of Moser Communications speak at the 2020 Texas Press Association Convention about important factors of ownership at community newspapers.

The Rural Journalism Pipeline Project is exploring the landscape of Texas community journalism succession, communicating the challenge based on case studies and research. It is funded through a grant by the IC2 Institute.

The Challenge

Many independently-owned community newspapers serving rural markets face a pressing challenge: When owners are ready to sell, there are too few looking to buy. Our aim is to not only study and understand the challenges, but to also develop some resources that can help preserve these historical touchstones in our communities.

Our Methods

Case Studies

We’re following a series of stakeholders in different stages of transition. We’ll develop these experiences into case studies for academic research and to inform resources to help owners, publishers and buyers.


Thus far our efforts have focused on newspaper publishers and editors to gain an understanding of their perspectives. We are also looking toward current and former journalists, whom we consider likely buyers or publishers, to get a sense of the barriers to taking on ownership.

  • In spring 2022 we surveyed publishers and editors of more than 350 community newspapers affiliated with the Texas Press Association, with 100 responses.
  • In summer 2022 we ran a pilot survey through a Facebook group of former journalists, yielding around 80 responses.
  • In spring 2023 we plan a larger survey of journalists.

Possible Outcomes

While our current thinking is likely to change as we study and learn more about the challenges outlined above, we are considering:

  • A toolkit of tips to help sellers prepare to sell their assets, and for buyers to understand the values
  • A toolkit to help newspaper owners who wish to transition to non-profit model
  • A resource guide for community newspapers to find college journalism programs in their area to help with human resource challenges.

The Team

The members of the Rural Publication Leadership Project team are:

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact us at