When Mark and Donna Johnston first sat at their kitchen table and hatched the idea for a community newspaper, they weren’t sure the model would work. They would need not just a top-quality product and the contributions of many talented people, but strong relationships with the local business community that would support the product through advertising.
Seventeen years later, their vision has made an impact on the Upstate community by offering local news across a range of publications – publications that have been embraced by readers and advertisers alike. Now, in addition to the Greenville Journal, the company publishes TOWN Magazine, Upstate Business Journal, At Home magazine and special publications like the always-popular Behind the Counter issue you’re reading now, plus a host of signature events. Each publication and service was a response to a community need as well as a partnership with the community it serves.
“From the very start, we were all about being with, for and about the communities we serve,” said Mark, president and CEO of Community Journals Publishing Group. “We have been fortunate that our mission has been embraced and supported from day one by our advertisers and readers. We have some customers that have been running with us every week for the past 17 years. I don’t know if our publishing model would have been so successful elsewhere. Greenville, South Carolina, is a special place.”
“As the Upstate community has grown, Community Journals has grown right along with it. If the community needs different products, digital products, events – we can respond to that, because all of the decisions are made right here on Perry Avenue,” Mark said, referring to the West Village location that became the Journal’s home base in 2014.
A big part of the company’s expansion has been the result of another Johnston joining the team. Mark and Donna have four sons, each forging his own path. “We are proud of all of them,” Mark said. Their oldest son is following in his dad’s footsteps.
Ryan Johnston, who was previously building a commercial real estate career in Charlotte, joined the family business as publisher of Upstate Business Journal in 2012. “To have the opportunity to work with Ryan to grow this company has brought a new dimension of fulfillment to my work here,” Mark said. “We’ve expanded our portfolio both in print and digital and added several events, and Ryan deserves a lot of credit for that.”
The newest member of the Community Journals family is CJ, the “office dog,” who was a heartworm-positive rescue at Greenville County Animal Care. Now healthy, CJ has assumed the role of the office welcoming committee and the entire staff’s favorite co-worker.
581 Perry Ave., Greenville, 864.679.1200, communityjournals.com