Hays Free Press, Dripping Springs News-Dispatch
Hall of Fame Class of 2020
If asked to name a Texas newspaper publisher who has soared to heights not achieved by any other, there is only one who fits that description: Cyndy Slovak-Barton, the award-winning publisher of the Hays Free Press in Kyle and the Dripping Springs News-Dispatch.
Slovak-Barton, who mixes newspaper publishing with athletic competition, was the gold medalist in women’s pole vault competition at the Texas Senior Games in both 2018 and 2019 and the silver medalist in women’s at the National Senior Games in 2019. Her drive to excel at pole-vaulting parallels the dedication and effort she has shown in producing high-quality community newspapers over a long period of time.
Slovak-Barton, who hails from West, Texas, was the first in her extended family to attend college. She began her work life as a truck stop waitress and went on to graduate from the University of Texas School of Communications. Her work as publisher of the award-winning Hays Free Press, HaysFreePress.com and the Dripping Springs News-Dispatch blend with her roles as a business owner and entrepreneur. She is co-owner of Gap Strategies, a business in which she assists with media strategy and manages business operations.
Developing and sharpening professional skills as a social services/agricultural policy analyst for the legendary U.S. Rep. Jake Pickle in Washington, D.C. from 1981 to 1983, Slovak-Barton’s work grew to include retail and property management. With her husband, Jeff Barton, and other partners, she has completed several successful real estate redevelopment ventures. She supervised the planning and construction of a two-story, mixed-use brownstone redevelopment that now houses both apartment flats and the Hays Free Press in downtown Kyle. This building won the 2012 Stewardship Award from Envision Central Texas.
Slovak-Barton attended Baylor University before transferring as a senior to the University of Texas at Austin. While news editor at Baylor’s student newspaper, The Lariat, a fight erupted between The Lariat and the administration over the newspaper’s editorial stand when Playboy scouted female students to appear in the magazine. Slovak-Barton, her future husband and others were fired in a public meeting, igniting protests and drawing widespread attention. The prestigious Ralph McGill Award, given to Cyndy Slovak and Jeff Barton for their editorial work, was sent to the University of Texas and remains there.
Slovak-Barton is a past president of South Texas Press Association, a current board member of the Texas Press Association, a member of the Texas Press Association Legislative Advisory Committee, many times a winner of the association’s Community Service Award and Sweepstakes Award, a winner of the Jim Lehrer Award for Investigative Journalism and winner of Envision Central Texas 2012 Stewardship Award for Redevelopment of the Barton Word Building in Kyle.
She served on the boards of the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, Hays Foundation, Buda Chamber of Commerce and Budafest Committee.