Parent company of Rome News-Tribune files Chapter 11
by Jessica Loeding
Jan 03, 2013 | 2683 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The parent company of the Rome News-Tribune on Tuesday filed Chapter 11 reorganization in United States Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia. News Publishing Company President Burgett Mooney III, along with Board of Directors members Elizabeth Mozley and Mary Sibley Banks, signed the resolution to file a voluntary petition on Dec. 18.

According to court documents, News Publishing, located at 305 E. 6th Ave. in Rome, estimated it owed more than 200 creditors. The listed estimated assets and liabilities both fell within a $1,000,001 to $10 million range.

The 20 largest unsecured creditors are owed $9,114,438.05 with $8,129,438.05 of that listed as unsecured. A list of creditors contained in the court filing lists 321 businesses, municipalities and individuals.

Among the top 20 creditors, the largest sum is owed to Northwest Georgia Capital, LLC at $4,040,000. Northwest Georgia Capital has listed the same address as News Publishing and the Rome News-Tribune. Also included on the list are News Publishing Pension Plan, $783,876; United Community Bank, $885,998.86; Citizens First Bank, $860,628.17; and Greater Rome Bank, $824,639.

News Publishing Company began in 1928 and today the company’s stock is held entirely by the Mooney family. Ten publications are owned by News Publishing, including Calhoun Times, Walker County Messenger, Catoosa County, Cedartown Standard and Rockmart Journal.

Court documents state that a Chapter 11 plan and disclosure statement must be submitted by May 1, with a list of other financial documents due on Jan. 15. A meeting of creditors will be held Feb. 6 at noon in Room 111 of the federal building, 600 E. 1st St., Rome.

A member of the Rome News-Tribune staff declined to comment. Calls to Publisher Otis Raybon were not returned Wednesday.

“We’ll have to present a reorganization plan to the court in the next six months or so,” Mooney told employees Monday afternoon according to a Rome News-Tribune report. “Whatever happens will be good for the employees. The whole key is that we will do business as usual.”

According to the story, Raybon told the employees, “Our newspaper is going to continue as always. We’re going to come out in better shape than we went into it.

“Our newspapers will continue as always. We will cover and report local news and events just as our readers and advertisers expect,” he said. “We will provide the best local news available in both home delivery print and single copy, and on our individual newspaper websites. Our company will emerge from this reorganization period better prepared to serve our communities.”

Raybon also serves as president of the Georgia Press Association, a statewide organization created to “protect, promote, foster and advance the interest of the newspaper industry in Georgia.”

Later in the story, Mooney declined to speculate what the company might look like when it emerges from the reorganization, saying he understands the paper’s responsibility and importance to the community.

“What’s important is that it (the community newspaper) is the only entity left than can or will expend the resources to cover the community completely,” Mooney said in the report. “You cannot start a business structure today, from the ground up, that can replace the community newspaper.”