Mike Probst, editor and publisher of the Rockport Pilot, was surprised when the Frank W. Mayborn Award for outstanding community leadership was presented to him at the awards brunch at the closing of the 140th TPA Convention and Trade Show in Galveston. Outgoing president Laurie Ezell-Brown made the presentation.
Rockport Pilot Publisher Mike Probst received the Frank W. Mayborn Award for outstanding community leadership in a presentation that came as a complete surprise, at least to him.
The presentation was part of the closing brunch of the 140th TPA Convention and Trade Show in Galveston.
The award recognizes a publisher or newspaper executive who has made significant contributions over the past year to the industry and the community. It is presented annually, and keeping the secret is challenging for TPA officials and for family members of the honoree.
In a column published in the Pilot after the convention, Probst admitted the award came as complete surprise and credited his wife Diane. His children, grandchildren and other family members gathered in Galveston to see him receive the award without him seeing them first.
Probst has served as editor and publisher of the Rockport Pilot for more than 36 years, “learning every aspect of managing a community newspaper, covering Rockport with insight, dedication and compassion,” according a legislative resolution by Texas House District 30 State Rep. Geanie W. Morrison.
Rockport was ground zero when Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas coast on Aug. 25, 2017. Harvey destroyed almost 25 percent of all structural value in Aransas County. Probst continued to publish the newspaper – online and in print as soon as possible – throughout the storm’s initial impact and its aftermath. Through print and online editions and social media, the Pilot served local residents as the go-to source for official information from city and county authorities, shelter activities, demolition work, coverage of on-site press conferences, visits by state and national officials and other events. In the following years, the newspaper has chronicled recovery and rebuilding.
In 2018 Probst published the book “Harvey Hit Here,” a complete account of the hurricane’s impact on the Rockport community, featuring a chronology of events, including weather service tracking of the storm, interviews with residents, a list of damaged properties and 300 photos.
Probst also is author of “30 Years Through the News/Lens: A History of Aransas County in News Highlights and Photos,” which benefited the History Center of Aransas County.
“I am in no way the perfect community newspaper publisher, but my heart has been, and always will be firmly rooted in what I believe is best for our community,” Probst said.
In addition to his wife Diane, on hand to see him receive the award were their daughters Alyssa and Ashlee, sons-in-law, Doug and Cody, his five grandchildren, Ben, Connor, Campbell, Archie and Paige, and his brother.
Also presented at the final convention event were awards in the 2018-19 Texas Better Newspaper Contest.
Sweepstakes-winning newspapers with the most accumulated points for awards in their divisions were The Daily News, Galveston, in division 2; the Seguin Gazette in division 3; Wise County Messenger, Decatur, in division 4; Kilgore News Herald, division 5; Port Aransas South Jetty; division 6, The Community News, Aledo, division 7; The Liberty Hill Independent, division 8; and The Post-Signal, Pilot Point, division 9.
Full contest results are available online at www.texaspress.com.