Car accident claims life of Cornerstone Publications owner Natalie Spencer

Cornerstone Publications owner Natalie Elizabeth Spencer, 53, of Rio Medina, died following an automobile accident in the early evening of April 2.
She was born April 11, 1966 in Houston, the daughter of William E. “Bill” Youngs and Martha Eloise Hanby Youngs.
She graduated from Medina Valley High School in 1985. She loved to play golf and was the first female golfer at MVHS. 

Texas newspapers innovate on the fly to inform, engage readers during crisis

Texas newspapers and their journalists are on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, covering government actions in dealing with the coronavirus and keeping readers informed with vital and credible information while coping with the same personal and economic challenges.
As of press time newspapers had been listed as “essential businesses” in all counties that issued shelter-in-place orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. As essential businesses, newspapers can conduct business normally.

Texas Spur owners acquire Caprock Courier

SPUR – Paragraph Ranch LLC, a media company based in Spur, purchased The Caprock Courier, the weekly newspaper serving the region of Briscoe, Hall and Motley counties. 
The Courier absorbed the earlier Briscoe County News and the Motley County Tribune in 2016 under the editorship of Tori Minick.
“We are pleased and honored to continue the tradition of community coverage in West Texas with the Caprock Courier,” said Kay Ellington, CEO of Paragraph Ranch LLC and publisher of the Texas Spur. “The acquisition should enable us to bring the whole region together.”

Open government awareness during coronavirus emergency

Kelley Shannon

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open records and open government, came at a time when local agencies are adapting their public meetings under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gatherings of ten or more people.
The following article from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas outlines the provisions of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order temporarily suspending certain provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

By Kelley Shannon, Executive Director, FOIFT

Sunshine Week: Fighting a virus with truth and transparency

As the scope and threat of the coronavirus pandemic becomes clear, people all over the world hunger for two things: an effective vaccine and truthful information about the disease.
The former may be more than a year away, but the latter is critical to stemming the pandemic in the meantime.

By Ken Paulson, director, Free Speech Center, Middle Tennessee State University

TCCJ has new home at Tarleton State University

Shown at the new location for the Texas Center for Community Journalism at Tarleton State University are (from left) Founding Director Tommy Thomason, now retired from teaching at TCU; the center’s new directors Kathryn Jones and Dan Malone, both professors at Tarleton; and TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges.

STEPHENVILLE — Support for almost 400 small-town newspapers in Texas now comes from Tarleton State University, the new home of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, which was formerly housed at TCU.
The center’s new co-directors are Tarleton faculty members Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones.
The change was announced at a reception Feb. 20 in the communication studies newsroom in the O.A. Grant Building in Stephenville.

TCCJ founding director Thomason retires from teaching

Tommy Thomason, founding director and now director emeritus of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, speaks at the TCCJ welcome reception at Tarleton State University.

Tommy Thomason, journalism professor and founding director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism at Texas Christian University, retired from teaching Dec. 31.
Thompson taught journalism at five universities and had been with TCU since 1984. Among other career accolades, he was honored by the Poynter Institute of Media Studies with a National Teaching Award in Journalism Ethics.
He was the founding director of the TCU Schieffer School of Journalism within the Bob Scheiffer College of Communication and stepped down from that position in 2009 to found TCCJ.

Texas has much to celebrate during Sunshine Week

The news industry and open government advocates will join forces to celebrate the importance of access to public information during Sunshine Week March 15-21. Sunshine Week is marked by panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom of information resources. A calendar of these events is maintained on the Sunshine Week website, A toolkit of free materials also is provided on the website.