Cox to retire as Free Press publisher
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/11/2021 (257 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Bob Cox is retiring as publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press after 14 years running the only independently owned metropolitan daily in the country.
Among other things, Cox, 61, has successfully helped shepherd the Free Press into the digital era during his tenure as publisher, in which revenue from digital subscriptions is as important as advertising revenue.
Cox is wrapping up a singular career in journalism. He is one of the few newspaper publishers who came up through the editorial side of the business.
He was the editor of the paper for two years before becoming publisher in 2007.
“I have always been really thrilled and proud to be publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press,” said Cox. “It may seem odd to say it because the industry is in so much turmoil, but this is a very stable time for the paper.”
Under Cox’s helm, the paper has not lost money, and while other papers slashed editorial budgets, the Free Press has not given up reporting on any part of Winnipeg.
“That, to me, is really important,” he said. “We have achieved many things that other newspaper companies haven’t.”
“We have achieved many things that other newspaper companies haven’t.”–Bob Cox
Cox’s last 16 years with the paper marked his second stint with the Free Press.
He began his career as a reporter for the paper from 1984 to 1988. He left to work for The Canadian Press for more than 10 years, then held brief gigs as city editor of the Edmonton Journal and national editor of the Globe and Mail, before coming back to the Free Press in 2005 as editor.
“This will sound corny, but sometimes things that are true do sound corny. In my life, Winnipeg has offered me the best opportunities,” he said.
“When I was a young reporter seeking a good job at a good newspaper, this is where I got my first full-time job. Then I had the chance to be editor and then publisher. Winnipeg has offered me the greatest opportunities in my life and I will always be thankful for that.”
Cox chaired the national newspaper organization, called News Media Canada, for several years during a time when the fate of the industry was uncertain. As chair of that organization, he helped marshal in federal legislation that has produced millions of dollars in federal government support for journalism across the country.
Bob Silver, a co-owner of the paper, said Cox and his management team have “done tremendous things for the paper… and he leaves very, very large shoes to fill.”
During Cox’s tenure, the paper maintained its prominent position in the Winnipeg market while papers in many other cities across North America have struggled to survive, he said.
“We have done an exceptional job to date and it is Bob and his team that have done that,” Silver said.
“Winnipeg has offered me the greatest opportunities in my life and I will always be thankful for that.”–Bob Cox
Both Cox and Silver expressed optimism regarding the future of the paper.
“I never worried about the future of the paper. I think it has a fantastic future,” said Cox. ”My challenges were all in the present.”
Silver, too, is bullish on the future of the Winnipeg Free Press, which turns 150 years old next year.
“There are seasons for everything,” Silver said. “We have to look at this as an opportunity to go forward and bring in someone with the type of qualifications and abilities that are needed.”
He said he and his partner Ron Stern are “extremely proud” of the paper and its accomplishments of late.
“And we not only believe in the future, we are going to invest in whatever it takes to make the Free Press as important tomorrow as it today,” Silver said.
Cox will stay in his position until a successor has been found.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
Updated on Friday, November 26, 2021 7:44 PM CST: minor edits throughout
Updated on Friday, November 26, 2021 9:38 PM CST: Fixes headline