Community Impact Newspaper has an intriguing business model. It’s a series of hyper-local newspapers in Austin, Houston, and Dallas that focus on a few zip codes each and direct mail their issues to every home and office in those zip codes. It’s a polished monthly publication that focuses largely on local business and politics.
My job was to anchor major Lege news to individual representatives from CI‘s coverage areas in Austin and Houston. Rather than jockeying with The Dallas Morning News and The Texas Tribune, I followed the headlines and pursued local angles and perspectives of local representatives. I also kept an eye on local rep’s legislative priorities, committee assignments, and comments in committees and on the House floor.
In practice, this meant I spent the whole session hovering about three yards behind the same half dozen representatives, including Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, and Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring. I got to see the legislature as they saw it, their strategies and responses and priorities and perspectives, and I think CI readers enjoyed getting news about their representatives rather than simply Texas politics writ large. It also made the legislature more tangible to me as I got to know the individual representatives and get a more localized, down-to-earth understanding of a very quirky legislature.