The Bruce Wright family has sold the Glasgow Courier and related printing company to Robb Hicks, Tom Mullen, and Gary Stevenson, according to John Cribb, Cribb & Associates, the brokerage firm representing the seller.

A story in the Courier reported the sale as follows:

Three small-town Wyoming newspaper owners became the owners of the Glasgow Courier last Friday. They bought the assets of the Glasgow Publishing Company, the Courier and Courier Printing, and created a new corporation, Glasgow Courier Inc.

In a meeting with Courier employees and a subsequent interview, the partners described their philosophy of journalism.

“A newspaper is owned by the community,” said Robb Hicks, 34, a “third-generation newspaper guy” from Buffalo, Wyoming, population 3,900. His grandparents and father published the Buffalo Bulletin before he bought it in 1996.

He said he thought he was out of newspapers when he went to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, to study English literature, and then found a job in Atlanta. He was “dragged back in” when, on his father’s tip, he bought the News Letter Journal in Newcastle, Wyoming, in 1993.

Hicks’ partners say he is the idea man for marketing and promotions. “The newspaper should take a lead role in the community to make the community the best it can be,” Hicks said. “The newspaper should be a reflection of the town it’s in.”

“It should also challenge it,” added Tom Mullen, publisher of the News Letter Journal, whose business card bears the word “Newspaperman” under his name. “It should showcase the very best and show what needs to be improved.”

Mullen, 42, is in charge of operations for the group, the man who knows his way around the presses. Although a self-described third generation plumber (grandfather, uncle, and brother), he has worked in newspapers most of his adult life.

He grew up near Yankton, South Dakota, enjoying the Lewis and Clark Lake formed on the Missouri River by the Gavins Point Dam. He likes to fish for walleye, and sail. He bought his sailboat, a 25-footer, on eBay. He and his wife, Annie, have three boys, two in college and one in high school, all veterans of the newspaper press room. He says he loves small towns, Newcastle fits the bill at 3,000 people.

The third partner, Gary Stevenson, turned around the failing financial picture of the Saratoga Sun and bought it, along with the Pine Bluffs Post. He also publishes and sells ads for a shopper called the Country Bounty in Sheridan, a big town of 20,000. He left newspapers for an ad agency once, but missed the business and came back. He has a degree in communications from the University of Wyoming.

Stevenson, 41, is the financial man, the holder of the purse strings. His wife, Sue, does the bookkeeping for the partnership. They have two daughters, age 13 and age 11. He raises registered cattle bearing the Stevenson Wyoming Angus diamond ring brand, a circle inside a diamond shape.

Hicks and Stevenson’s parents lived across the alley from each other. Neither boy was going into the newspaper business, but as young men they found themselves there anyway, and began to “bounce stuff off each other.” Mullen had heard of the excellence of small newspapers in Wyoming and Montana.

About eight years ago, he called the Wyoming Press Association, which referred him to Jim Hicks in Buffalo. He didn’t need anyone but his son in Newcastle needed a publisher. So the partners found each other.

Together they also own the Teton Valley News in Driggs, Idaho.

Bruce Wright, whose family had owned the Courier since 1972, said he waited for the right people to buy it. He gradually sold off his various newspaper holdings until the Courier was the last one. Ready to retire, he still turned away two prospects because he did not think they had the necessary concern for the newspaper and the community. He expressed confidence that these three partners and Glasgow will be a good fit.

“It’s more than a business venture for us,” Hicks said. “We don’t go into towns we don’t like, that we wouldn’t consider moving to.”

Cribb & Associates is the oldest publishing brokerage firm in the United States with offices in Montana, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Florida.

Published August 29, 2003

Glasgow, MT