By Gene Galin
Siler City, NC – I had a chance to sit down with Neal Robbins, the new owner and publisher of the Chatham News & Record newspaper. We met and talked at the Chatham Rabbit in Siler City. He shared his excitement about the acquisition and his plans to enhance the newspaper’s content and reach.
Robbins, who also owns the North State Journal, sees the Chatham News & Record as a valuable addition to the overall newspaper portfolio, aligning with the North State Journal’s mission of delivering objective and factual journalism. With Chatham County experiencing rapid growth and being strategically located near research centers and universities, Robbins believes it is a perfect fit both geographically and from a business standpoint. The acquisition of the Chatham News & Record will add to their content offerings and provide additional coverage of local news, sports, businesses, and government activities.
Robbins’s background includes an engineering degree from NC State, a law degree from Wake Forest, and a business degree from Wake Forest. When asked about his decision to publish newspapers, he explained that he combined all three areas of his education to tackle a problem he saw in the media landscape. Believing in the power of print media and the press, he started the North State Journal in 2016 to address the need for comprehensive coverage in North Carolina. He believes that every person in the state should be aware of what is happening in state government, college and professional sports, and local communities.
A Strategic Acquisition
As one of the oldest newspapers in North Carolina, the Chatham News & Record boasts a rich history. Robbins acknowledges its status as an award-winning publication and recognizes the strong foundation laid by the previous team. He emphasizes that his aim is not to make drastic changes but to augment the newspaper’s offerings. With the North State Journal already enjoying a thriving readership in Chatham County, Robbins believes that the addition of the Chatham News & Record will further enrich the content provided to the community.
Enhancing Local Coverage
Robbins intends to expand the coverage of local news, sports, business, features, and government affairs in the Chatham News & Record. Readers can expect to see additional pages dedicated to local content, providing comprehensive reporting on the issues and events that matter most to the community. By combining the strengths of the Chatham News & Record with the North State Journal’s state, national, and regional coverage, readers will have access to a more comprehensive news experience.
Recruitment and Upgrades
To support the expanded coverage, Robbins plans to hire new reporters and photographers, inviting aspiring journalists and photographers in Chatham County to join the team. The aim is to strengthen the newspaper’s resources and talent pool. Additionally, improvements to the newspaper’s website are in the works, with a focus on enhancing functionality and user experience. Robbins acknowledges that the website upgrade will be an ongoing process but promises a dynamic change in the presentation of news online.
Embracing Change and Growth
As Chatham County continues to experience rapid growth, Robbins recognizes the economic development and job opportunities that arise. He expresses enthusiasm for the county’s diversity, ranging from agriculture to high-tech industries, and acknowledges the importance of covering these aspects in the newspaper. With Chatham County positioned between Raleigh and Robbins’ hometown of Asheboro, the area holds personal significance for him, making the acquisition even more compelling.
The Publisher’s Perspective
When asked about the most enjoyable aspects of being the owner and publisher of the North State Journal, Robbins mentioned being able to participate in and cover the best events in various communities across North Carolina. From local festivals to college sports, he highlighted the excitement of covering post-season events and major sporting occasions. Robbins expressed his satisfaction with the growth of the North State Journal, which now has six local editions in addition to its main publication. He noted that the Chatham News & Record will focus on providing extensive coverage of local government activities and school sports in Chatham County.
Robbins emphasizes that the summer months are a transition period for local journalism, with a focus on county and municipal budgets, as well as government activities. However, he considers the return of school and school sports in August as the true start of the newspaper’s year. Gradual changes, such as a new nameplate design and increased color usage, will be implemented to modernize the Chatham News & Record’s appearance. Robbins assures readers that improvements will be made, ensuring that the newspaper remains a vital source of information for the community.
You can watch or listen to our entire conversation with Neal Robbins, the new owner and publisher of Chatham News and Record on YouTube.
00:04 Neal Robbins explains why he purchased Chatham News and Record
- Chatham News and Record is a great newspaper and one of the oldest in North Carolina, which marries well with North State Journal’s statewide mission.
- Chatham County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, close to research centers and universities, and next door to Robbins’ hometown Asheboro, making it a great fit from a business standpoint.
01:24 North State Journal provides objective journalism to inform North Carolinians.
- Founded in 2016 to fill a void in media landscape.
- Covers state government, sports, and local communities.
02:40 The Chatham News and Record will have more local and regional coverage.
- New reporters are being hired to add more local content.
- North State Journal is also hiring several positions.
03:52 Chatham News & Record is undergoing gradual changes for better presentation
- Changes will be made before August when school and school sports start
- New name plate and design elements are being introduced
05:06 Chatham County is growing rapidly with diverse job opportunities.
- Robbins plans to improve paper quality for better color.
- Excitement about the economic development and job opportunities in the area.
06:27 North State Journal is a growing network of newspapers covering local communities in North Carolina.
- North State Journal is the fastest growing newspaper in the country.
- The newspaper covers the best events in almost every community in North Carolina, including the Black Bear Festival, Highland Games, and State Fair, and has covered more post-season events than any other newspaper.
07:50 Publishing newspapers is important to address media coverage problems
- Robbins believes in the power of print media and the press
- North State Journal covers topics, events, and people that other media outlets can’t
09:05 Focus on government coverage and fall sports previews in Chatham County
- Ensuring access to information about local government and school boards
- Providing coverage of fall sports schedules and top prospects