Marvin Longabaugh likes to jokingly tell people that there have been only three things he’s ever had to work hard for in life. In high school, it was learning how to tap dance for a musical, and later, as a law student, it was studying for the bar exam. The third, and most recent challenge, has been starting a local newspaper from scratch.
Launched this past August, the Navasota Star is completely self-funded by Longabaugh and maintains a weekly print circulation of roughly 2,000 in and around the small town of Navasota, Texas.
“Sure I was hesitant because everyone was telling me that the newspaper industry was dying,” Longabaugh said. “A friend of mine here has been in the business for years and he was the first one to concur that idea but he did mention how community newspapers don’t appear to be experiencing the same sort of difficulties.”
After giving the idea more thought, the longtime lawyer felt his excitement for his project continue to grow. Eventually, Longabaugh figured it was worth a shot, despite the fact that there had already been a newspaper, the Navasota Examiner, in town for more than 120 years.
“I would be lying if it gave me a little bit of trepidation, but for years now the other newspaper has been owned by an out of town company,” Longabaugh said. “We wanted to provide that sense of community back into Navasota.”
While the Examiner covers the entirety of Grimes County, which Navasota is situated in, Longabaugh’s publication concentrates specifically on the town itself along with a few of the rural communities in the area.
“Essentially they are covering a lot of territory an inch deep, while we’re covering a smaller amount of ground but a whole lot deeper,” Longabaugh said.
The Star’s print edition is offered entirely in color on a tabloid style, bright white heavy paper, which Longabaugh said has attracted a steady stream of local advertisers. Its editorial team consists of about 15 paid freelance writers in the area. In addition to producing a weekly print paper, the staff helps keep its social media pages and website (navasotastar.com) updated regularly.
According to Longabaugh, an app for the newspaper is also expected to be completed in the near future as well.
“Our attitude is that just because we’re in a small town, doesn’t mean we have to act like it,” Longabaugh said. “We are really working hard at being different and so far I’d say we’ve done that.”