Cherokee Tribune a tribute to efforts of ... Otis Brumby Jr.
by Rebecca Johnston
columnist
September 16, 2012 12:44 AM | 1201 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rebecca Johnston<br>Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
Rebecca Johnston
Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
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This week has been one of profound sadness for me as our newspaper chain said a final goodbye to the man who set our course for all the years I have been a part of this publication.

While it has been emotional and a deeper personal loss than I expected, it has also been a time when those affiliated with the newspapers have felt a new sense of pride to be a part of this organization.

Otis Brumby Jr. was a remarkable man, and he gave this community a great gift on a daily basis with the Cherokee Tribune.

He represented the best in journalism. He was a truth seeker, he demanded an accurate, well-written product from his employees and he expected us to dig down to the meat of the matter on the important stories of the day.

As we have read the tributes and listened to the eulogies, we have been reminded not just of what he stood for, but what he made sure the newspapers he owned represented.

Almost everyone who knew him has their favorite Otis story and many have been shared during this time. Each one has offered a glimpse of the multi-faceted man he was.

Working in the newspaper business is a grueling task. And as the economy has toughened it has become even harder.

But the rewards are great also, not in money, but in something far more important to those who pursue journalism as a career.

Plenty of people in journalism today sell out, in one way or another, but Mr. Brumby never did.

He remained true to himself, true to the highest ideals of his profession, and true to his family, community and employees.

He was conservative without being narrow-minded. He fought for lower taxes and openness and honesty in government before the Tea Party was even formed.

He judged both politicians and employees by what they stood for and what they were made of, and if you fell short in either category, woe be unto them.

He had an internal moral compass that seemed to always take him and the newspapers in the right direction.

He was unwavering in his devotion to the newspapers, right up until the very end of his life.

That is why we at the Cherokee Tribune, the Marietta Daily Newspaper and the Neighbor Newspapers are so touched by his passing.

I have worked at this paper as a full-time employee or a columnist for the past 25 years.

In all that time I hardly ever did anything without wondering what Mr. Brumby would think of it and without applying his own special set of rules to what I wrote or produced.

It was not that he ever yelled at me or even chastised me. He didn’t. Every encounter I ever had with him in 25 years was entirely civil.

But I knew his high standards and I wanted to live up to those.

I also cherish the Cherokee Tribune and what it means to this community. I think of the Tribune as a grand lady who has been around for a long time and deserves our best to remain the high caliber newspaper it has always been.

Mr. Brumby purchased the Cherokee Tribune in 1973 from long time owners and local residents Buster and Ralph Owens. For many years, decades, the two brothers provided a solid news product with plenty of stories of local interest for the readers.

The newspaper traced its roots back to the Cherokee Advance, a forerunner of the North Georgia Tribune. The Advance began publishing in Cherokee County after the Civil War in the 1870s as the county emerged as a leader in commerce in the state.

Cherokee County has a proud and successful history and our local newspaper had always been there to report on it.

Then in 1973, after all those years, the newspaper was purchased by someone from outside the county. I am sure folks around here were worried about what that might mean.

That is where Mr. Brumby gave a great gift to this community. He hired Neely Young to manage the newspaper locally and renamed it from the North Georgia Tribune to the Cherokee Tribune.

In that renaming Mr. Brumby also assured the community that the newspaper would put an even greater emphasis on local people, photographs, sports and articles.

He always kept that promise to the readers of the Cherokee Tribune. He kept local people involved in the management and newsroom.

Over the almost 40 years that he owned the Cherokee Tribune he also managed this newspaper a little differently. There was never any doubt he was captain of the ship, but he kept a lighter hand on the helm than at the flagship paper in Cobb, his home community.

His leadership kept the Cherokee Tribune a solid community product, reflective of our county and its people.

And over the years I have worked here I have seen this newspaper make a real difference in our community through its reporting.

One of those that many people may have now forgotten was the battle to keep a hospital in Cherokee County.

I was reporter and editor when Promina healthcare began to make a mark in the area and attempted to purchase the hospital here. The deal was being kept hush-hush, but at least one Hospital Authority member and doctor was concerned about what it might mean.

Mr. Brumby was picking up on some of this from the Cobb County side and he and I began to suspect that it was a move to squash the competition to Kennestone.

The Hospital Authority mostly met behind closed doors, but I began to go to their meetings, attempting to hear and report on what was happening.

As we reported on the issue, we uncovered a plan to close the hospital here in Cherokee, to only keep offices and testing at the location on Hospital Road.

Eventually the decision was made, because in great part of the sunshine this newspaper shined on the deal, to not sell out to Promina and to keep the hospital open.

Later, Northside came to the table and our hospital got a shot in the arm, and soon we will have a new state-of-the-art facility to serve generations here well into the future.

None of that might have happened without Mr. Brumby.

He made a difference in this community on a day to day basis.

Our community is a better place because of his commitment to the people of this community.

We here in Cherokee join with our neighbors in Cobb in mourning his death and honoring his memory.

Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
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