By: Press Release | Cribb, Greene & Associates
The Maryville Daily Forum has been purchased from GateHouse Media by local publisher Phil Cobb, according to John Cribb, Cribb, Greene & Associates who represented the buyer in the transaction. The full news release prepared by the Daily Forum staff follows:
A new dawn broke for community journalism in Nodaway County early Wednesday as the reconstituted staff of the Maryville Daily Forum arrived at the newspaper’s offices at Main and Jenkins for what promised to be a long, hectic day.
Long and hectic but also historic and full of promise and hope. For the first time in decades a team of editors, reporters, salespeople and tech specialists gathered to put together a paper that would be published under the masthead of local ownership.
Sold earlier this month by GateHouse Media, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, the Forum is now solely owned by Cobb Publishing LLC, an organization forged into being by the paper’s former general manager and longtime Nodaway County resident Phil Cobb.
Cobb left the Forum in March 2012 after months of deep budget and staff cuts implemented by the struggling GateHouse chain, which operates several hundred papers in about 20 states. Frustrated by mounting pressure from his bosses to allocate an ever-increasing share of the paper’s profits to the GateHouse bottom line — money that never touched Maryville’s local economy — Cobb decided he’d had enough, and that it was time to strike out on his own.
“He lived for this paper, and he was disgusted by what had happened to it,” said former GateHouse reporter Tony Brown, now Cobb’s news editor. “We all were.”
Immediately after his departure, Cobb − who was followed out the door by several key staff members − set up shop on the south end of Main Street and founded The Post, a free shopper that quickly attracted a wide customer base of local advertisers.
His success was not lost on GateHouse managers, one of whom declared that the multi-million-dollar publishing chain was being victimized by a “David and Goliath strategy.”
Cobb is now back in the Forum’s executive office, not as general manager but as owner and publisher in his own right. Considering his pedigree, that’s not really surprising.
Cobb’s father was noted northwest Missouri publisher, teacher and coach Robert Cobb, who earlier this year was posthumously inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame. His mother, Lana, now the Forum’s business manager, was fully involved in her late husband’s newspaper career, which included ownership of newspapers in Albany, Stanberry and King City.
“My memories of the Forum go way back,” Cobb said earlier this week. “I was 7 years old in 1976 when my parents purchased the Tri-County News in King City, and I would travel to Maryville with my dad to get his paper printed on the press in this same building. “
At 8 years old, I wrote my first newspaper column, Chalk Board, a spinoff of my dad’s sports column, Chalk Talk. When I was 16, I worked in the mailroom at the Forum. Throughout high school, I covered summer sports in King City. Then, after college, I returned home to assist my parents with their weekly publication. I reported on sports for King City, Union Star, Stanberry and Jefferson, covered Stanberry and Jefferson school boards, Stanberry City Council and various community events. There is not a single task that I have not performed at a newspaper.”
In the Internet age, the Forum joins a mere handful of Missouri daily newspapers that remain locally owned. Though the challenges posed to such publications by competing electronic media are formidable, Cobb is confident in both his market and his product.
It would be hard to come up with one entity that has done more to kill community newspapers than Gatehouse Media. Glad to see the Maryville Daily Forum has escaped from that soul-sapping corporate hell.