Former Iowa Parkan named president
of Texas Press Association
Former Iowa Parkan Randy Keck was installed as president of the Texas Press Association (TPA) June 18 during the organization’s Leadership Conference at La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa in Montgomery.
Keck, a 1975 graduate of Iowa Park High School and 1979 graduate of Midwestern State University, is publisher of the Community News in Aledo. He is the second journalist from Iowa Park to lead the TPA, as the late Bob Hamilton, publisher of the Iowa Park Leader, held the position in 1977-78.
Another former Iowa Parkan, Rachel (Speed) Noble, is employed at the Community News.
Keck is the founding president and former board member of the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce. He has served on a number of boards, including the Parker County Red Cross Advisory Board, the boards of Freedom House of Parker County, the North and East Texas Press Association, and the Ride for Heroes. He also has served, or is serving, on the boards of the Aledo Education Foundation, Freedom House of Parker County, and the Aledo Economic Development Corporation. He also served as president of the Texas Association of Magicians in 2007-08.
When contacted by the Leader for comment this week, Keck reflected on his journey through the world of journalism, and his early years in Iowa Park. Following are his words –
I purchased The Community News at the end of May, 1995. During that time, it has grown from a four-page weekly to an average of 20 pages per week.
When we first started, I wondered how I was ever going to fill up eight pages. Now we often wonder how we will fit everything in 20!
The Community News was started by Eldon Norris of Aledo. It was sold and moved to Weatherford, and the office was in Weatherford when I bought it. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to move it back to Aledo and focus on this community, and one of the best things I ever did was to follow that advice.
One of the biggest helps to me was the Texas Press Association. The TPA has two statewide meetings a year, in June and January. I attended my first TPA convention in January of 1995, and I have not missed one since. So my joke is, if you want to become president of TPA, go to 43 conventions!
I also became involved in the North and East Texas Press Association. After a couple of Years, Jim Bardwell asked me to be on the board. Over time, I went “through the chairs” (contest chairman, convention chairman and president) twice, and have made some wonderful friendships through NETPA and TPA.
It has been said it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to operate a newspaper. Without the help and mentoring I received along the way from other publishers, my development at this newspaper would not have happened.
I always looked forward to seeing Bob and Dolores Hamilton at TPA conventions, and a couple of times I remember we got together for dinner when Iowa Park played Aledo in a playoff game somewhere. The Hamiltons have definitely been mentors to me - it was growing up reading the Iowa Park Leader that I absorbed what a community newspaper should be, and I got my picture in the paper a few times in high school.
I also remember my dad would special order the film Bob Hamilton needed for his camera when dad managed the T.G.&Y. store in Wichita Falls.
Kevin and Kari have carried on the tradition and I do enjoy staying in touch with them.
When I started I literally had no idea what I was doing, but I had a technical background in computer database programming. Electronic publishing was just coming of age at the same time as I bought the paper, so I took advantage of my computer skills to produce the paper.
Among other things, we were the first newspaper in Parker County to have a website, and the first to use full color pages on a regular basis.
This has been a great community for a newspaper. When I started it was very much like Iowa Park, where I went to high school, but with the proximity to Fort Worth Aledo has grown tremendously. I think one of our roles as a newspaper is to help the community maintain its identity as the population continues to explode.
Role of TPA
Newspapers have definitely faced some challenges in recent years, but I think we have shown we are not going away. Talking with my fellow community newspaper publishers, I think we are as strong as we have ever been. Our communities need us. In many cases, we are the glue that holds the entire community, not just subsets composed of social media groups, together.
The newspaper is the entity that holds elected officials accountable, that takes the time to make sure information is accurate before being disseminated, that asks the tough questions. When we do our job correctly, we are the only real trusted, credible source of information in most local communities.
The Texas Press Association exists to build stronger newspapers. As an association, we hold each other accountable and, unified, we work diligently to protect freedom of information and public notices.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that, every time the legislature goes into session, there are people who want to pass bills that limit the amount or access to public information. Well, the public’s business, whether in a school district, a municipality or a county, should be conducted with transparency. We are there to make sure that happens.