Joe Warner manned the office’s patio grill on a drizzly morning in November, flipping burgers for the 16 new employees who’d soon break for lunch after their first few hours of corporate orientation. A managing editor for Community Impact, a chain of local newspapers headquartered in Pflugerville, outside Austin (Texas), Warner, with his fellow editors, was about to receive an infusion of talent for a team of about 60 journalists who cover several dozen towns and neighborhoods in and around Texas’ four largest cities.
In defiance of almost every trend in print media in recent decades, Community Impact is expanding. Once a month, in fact, Warner, a 34-year newspaper veteran, fires up the grill for a new batch of “Impacters.” This time around, 13 were hired to work on the editorial side of the business — reporting stories, designing infographics or producing digital content such as email newsletters. Half of them were filling newly created positions.