In 2005, journalism teacher Cathy Kincaid took a part-time job helping a former student launch his startup business—a newspaper in Pflugerville, Texas.
Over the next decade, Community Impact Newspaper grew to 20 publications covering the Austin, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth metro areas with a circulation of nearly 1.5 million.
This spring, Kincaid announced her retirement and will be stepping down as founding editor May 29—leaving behind a legacy of what she calls “unbiased, useful news and information that is well-written.”
What did you think when CIN CEO John Garrett called you about this position years after you had been his middle school literature teacher?
He called me a couple of times [about the job]. I thought it was maybe some kind of an Amway project. Then when he showed it to me—he had these big-board mockups of what it was going to look like—he was so enthusiastic about it. I thought, “I can do that; that would be fun.”
How have you seen CIN change during the past 10 years and to what do you attribute its rapid growth?
We have grown quickly because of John Garrett’s tenacity, courage and vision. We all realized that readers and advertisers felt that our content was useful and informative and that communities appreciated our product—informative, in-depth and monthly; free to readers; and beneficial to advertisers. John recognized the product would be easily replicated throughout the state and would be beneficial to readers and advertisers everywhere. Even during the recession he felt it was vital we continue our growth. It wasn’t always easy, but we made it work.
What were some of the biggest issues CIN covered during your time as editor?
When the paper first started, in Round Rock, Pflugerville and even in Leander and Ceder Park, the toll road was the big deal. Our first stories were about toll roads. Of course transportation has remained a big part of our issues. The latest [big development] in Austin is the City Council districting—that story has gone on for years. Medical-wise, three hospitals in Round Rock have gone up since we started. In Austin another issue was determining a medical school for The University of Texas.
How have you been involved in the community while working for CIN?
I was the first president of the Round Rock Arts Council. It has been wonderful to see it grow and prosper in the time since this paper launched. Because of Community Impact I also got involved with the Sunrise Rotary Club in Round Rock. During my time as president of that, the Play For All park in Round Rock—which my club was very involved with—launched.
What’s one thing you couldn’t have done this job without?
A red pen.
What are your plans after retirement?
My plans for the first part are to not have any plans. After that I want to continue with the Round Rock Arts Council, play with my grandkids and I hope to do quite a bit of traveling.
What will you miss most about this job?
I will miss working. I love the planning meetings and I love the final day [of putting the paper together] because you’ve got so much energy activity on both those days. I’ll also miss helping reporters put their stories together. I’ll miss that.