Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame inductees (from left) Donnis Baggett, Bill Cooke and Chuck Hubbs (representing the late Barney Hubbs) with Texas Newspaper Foundation President Greg Shrader.
The 2019 Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame induction ceremonies celebrated generations of service to the newspaper industry and local communities.
Members of the 2019 class of inductees are Bill Cooke of Rockdale, Donnis Baggett of Bryan and the late Barney Hubbs of Pecos.
Greg Shrader, president of the foundation, was emcee for the awards, presented following a program by Lincoln Millstein, retired senior vice president and special advisor to the CEO at the Hearst Corporation. Millstein shared his thoughts on the newspaper industry in his program “Paper Cuts,” noting that many of the problems newspapers face today are of the industry’s own making.
Bill Cooke of Rockdale represents the third generation of his family’s service to both the Rockdale community and the Texas newspaper industry. As publisher emeritus, he enjoys seeing the fourth generation of his family firmly in charge of the Rockdale Reporter and Messenger, which has been owned by the family since 1911.
Cooke grew up in the family business and returned to Milam County after attending college. He said he especially enjoyed coming to Denton for the TPA convention, where as a student at University of North Texas in the 1950s, he met his wife Peggy. They have celebrated 61 anniversaries.
Cooke returned to Rockdale in 1959 as news editor working for his father, W.H. Cooke, who served as publisher and later publisher emeritus from 1936 until his death in 1991. In 1973, Cooke converted The Reporter “from the hot, inky letterpress production era” to offset printing, a change that resulted in sharper photos, improved page design and more attractive advertising. The Reporter drew the accolades of its peers in contests, winning many awards in news writing, editorials, column writing, headline writing, page design and sports coverage in South Texas Press Association and Texas Press Association newspaper contests. Cooke became publisher himself in 1981.
Beginning with Cooke’s grandfather, John Esten Cooke, who served as TPA president in 1920-21, generations of Cooke family members have been active and served in leadership positions with TPA and the South Texas Press Association.
Texas Press Association Executive Vice President Donnis Baggett’s newspaper career has included decades as an editor for the Longview News-Journal and The Dallas Morning News, and as publisher for the Bryan-College Station Eagle and the Waco Tribune-Herald. As a newsroom leader and mentor, he influenced many reporters and as a publisher, he helped editors improve their newspapers as well as their personal careers. Like the newspapers he ran, he was personally committed to helping improve the communities where he worked and lived.
Baggett’s commitment to the Texas newspaper industry included leadership roles with the Press Club of Dallas, the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the Texas Press Association. He has also served as a director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He has been active with legislative advisory groups of TDNA and TPA for many years. He took on the role full time with TPA in 2012.
Baggett and TPA Member Services Director Ed Sterling review all proposed legislation filed during each Texas legislative session, looking for measures that might impact public notices in newspapers, public information, open meetings and First Amendment topics.
In addition, Baggett works on the national level with organizations such as the National Newspaper Association and the Public Notices Resource Center.
Barney Hubbs was a pioneer in the development of the West Texas newspaper industry from the 1920s through the 1940s and 50s. In addition to the Pecos Enterprise, he owned, founded or at one time operated more than a dozen newspapers and radio stations in the region.
Born in 1897 on a ranch about 40 miles north of San Angelo, Hubbs got his first job in a print shop when he was about 13 years old. While serving in World War I, Hubbs helped publish a newspaper, the Pauillac Pilot, for Allied soldiers and sailors. That newspaper covered the events of Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918. Returning to Pecos after the war, Hubbs started a print shop and newspaper, the Gusher, which he merged with the Enterprise in 1925.
Hubbs eventually sold all his other newspapers and continued with the Pecos Enterprise until his retirement in 1961. He, along with his wife Luella, who died in 1979, devoted decades of retirement to community service until his death in 1995. Among his many endeavors was helping found the West of the Pecos Museum.
Hubbs’ grandson, Chuck Hubbs, accepted the award on behalf of his family.