MARIETTA — Marietta Daily Journal’s parent company, Times-Journal Inc., was the successful bidder in a bankruptcy auction for the Rome News Publishing Company on Thursday in Carrollton at the law offices of the debtor.
The deal is still subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Grace Diehl, who is set to decide whether to approve the sale at a Jan. 28 hearing. Closing will occur no later than March 31.
Otis Brumby III, publisher of Times-Journal Inc., offered the high bid of $3.05 million in an open auction Thursday, beating two other bidders who entered the process Monday.
Brumby, whose family has been in the newspaper business since 1916, will take over for the Rome News-Tribune’s third generation owner, Burgett H. Mooney III, whose family has published the Rome newspaper since 1928.
“We want to acknowledge our family’s long friendship and association with the Mooney family and their historical and continued contributions to Rome, northwest Georgia and our state,” Brumby said. “The Rome News-Tribune has a storied history of newspaper excellence, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue in that tradition.”
The purchase of News Publishing Co. includes all its publications, including the daily Rome News-Tribune and several weekly publications: the Calhoun Times, the Walker County Messenger, the Catoosa County News and the Polk County Standard Journal.
The weekly Cherokee County Herald in Centre, Alabama, published by News Publishing Co. subsidiary Cherokee Publishing Co., is also included in the deal.
News Publishing Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 1, 2013, and Times-Journal Inc. gave an initial offer of $1.1 million in October 2014. The deal was subject to a bidding process, however, and Thursday’s auction was held after additional bidders came forward.
Times-Journal Inc. also agrees to lease the Rome offices and its equipment, and News Publishing Co. owner Burgett H. Mooney III will remain involved as a consultant for at least a 20-month period.
The MDJ was first printed in 1866 by Robert McAlpin Goodman on a hand press left behind by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s army after the Civil War and converted from a weekly paper to daily publication in 1935.
Otis Brumby III’s grandfather, Otis A. Brumby Sr., started rival newspaper The Cobb County Times in 1916 and purchased the MDJ in 1951, merging the two publications. Otis Brumby Jr. took over as publisher in 1967, and Otis Brumby III succeeded him in 2012.
“It is an honor and a privilege for my sister Lee and I to be the third generation of managers of a family-owned newspaper business,” Brumby said. “Growing up, our father taught us the value of hard work, faith, family and integrity. We take our new responsibility to the northwest Georgia region seriously and look forward to getting to know, working with and serving the people in those communities.”
Mooney is Otis Brumby III’s counterpart in Rome. Burgett H. Mooney Sr., along with two other partners, formed News Publishing Co. and purchased the Rome News-Tribune in 1928. Mooney III has been the president of the Rome News-Tribune since 1986.
“The Marietta Daily Journal has made a bold commitment to northwest Georgia and the News Publishing Co. group of newspapers,” Mooney said. “I ask all northwest Georgians to join with me and the 148 employees of NPCO in welcoming a great media company. I have known the Brumby family for a very long time, and they share our dedication to family-owned newspapers practicing community journalism. We will all benefit by their ownership.”
Times-Journal Inc. purchased the Cherokee Tribune in 1973, then called the North Georgia Tribune. The newspaper’s name was changed after the purchase, and Otis Brumby Jr. tapped Neely Young, now the publisher of Georgia Trend magazine, to be the first editor and publisher of the Cherokee newspaper. The Tribune went to a five day per week schedule in 1998.
In addition to the MDJ and the Cherokee Tribune, Times-Journal Inc. and its 135 employees also publish 22 Neighbor community newspapers — the first being the Northside Neighbor, which was launched in 1968 — and two monthly magazines, including Cobb Life.
The Rome News-Tribune is one of Georgia’s oldest newspapers first published in 1844. The News Publishing Company began expanding in 1980, when it acquired the weekly Rockmart Journal. It then purchased the twice-weekly Calhoun Times in 1986, followed by the weekly Cherokee County (Alabama) Herald and the twice-weekly Cedartown Standard in 1988.
Also in 1988, the company acquired the twice-weekly Walker County Messenger, then purchased the Cherokee County (Alabama) Sun in 1989 and merged it with the Cherokee County Herald. The Catoosa County News was purchased in 1990.
Brumby pledged the newly acquired newspapers would continue their focus on local news.
“We believe in Friday night football. We believe in covering local schools, local politics, local churches and local events: the who, what, when, where and why of everything happening in Rome and all of northwest Georgia,” Brumby said. “We all spend most of our lives living and working in communities that the New York Times, Washington Post, Google, Yahoo, Fox and CNN are not going to cover. We believe your stories — local stories — actually have the most relevance and meaning, and we are committed to continuing that tradition.”