For What It’s Worth
Editor’s note: Publisher/CEO Chris Cobler is a nostalgic Baby Boomer who likes to name his columns after 1960s protest anthems. When he was editor of the Washburn University Review in 1980 in Topeka, Kan., he called his column “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Now that he’s in Fort Worth, he can’t resist the title of another of his favorite songs, “For What It’s Worth.”
Although the songs are political, Cobler pledges to keep his columns focused on the community and not partisan politics. The mission of the Fort Worth Report is to bring people together around fact-based journalism, making this line in the Buffalo Springfield song especially meaningful: “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”
Fort Worth is a big little city. As you’d find in a smaller town, many people have welcomed us warmly and sincerely.
But you also can’t escape the big part of the equation. As you drive around Fort Worth, you feel every bit of its status as the 13th-largest city in the country.
That mix of big and small makes the Fort Worth Report all the more important. People strongly want to hold on to what makes Fort Worth special, whether they describe that feeling as Funky Town or Panther City or just home.
The city’s population boom makes it even more urgent that good local journalism connects communities and holds the government accountable. We need to work together to find solutions for how to face the challenges Fort Worth faces. We will get there through fact-based journalism, a critical starting point that came to mind as I listened to Police Chief Neal Noakes speak Friday to the Rotary Club of Fort Worth.
In explaining the challenge before modern-day policing, Noakes quoted writer and activist James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Noakes’ talk is part of my listening tour as publisher of our startup publication. Many thanks to businessman Bob Mitchell, who invited me to the downtown Rotary as his guest, and to club president Carlo Capua of The Meeting Squad, who led an impressive program.
I am humbled by how much support Fort Worth and the state already have shown the Report. We started the week talking via Zoom with Tom Luce and Margaret Spellings about the important civic mission of Texas 2036.
Other conversations in just the past week included:
◾ Breakfast with United Way Executive Director Leah King.
◾ Our first Reader Advisory Council meeting, via Zoom, with a diverse group of about 20 Tarrant County residents.
◾ Lunch with serial entrepreneur Ron Sturgeon.
◾ A meeting with Trinity Coffee House co-owner Jennifer Demel.
◾ Breakfast with Fort Worth statesman Pete Geren, who invited me to Mitchell’s regular gathering of business leaders. This week, Mayor Betsy Price addressed the group and opened by giving a gracious shout-out to the Report.
◾ A conversation with mayoral candidate Mattie Parker. In recent weeks, I also have had sit-downs with candidates Deborah Peoples, Brian Byrd and Ann Zadeh. Look for in-depth profiles of these four candidates later this week in the Report.
Before wrapping up the week with the Rotary meeting, we had a phone call Friday with Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp and Law School Dean Robert Ahdieh to introduce them to what we’re doing at the Report. Sharp was born in Victoria, which is where I worked previously, so it was fun reconnecting.
All these people are so generous with their time because they believe in our mission to inform, engage and empower. Each conversation inspires us to try to do more.
For what it’s worth, I’ll be sharing more conversations from my listening tour in this space. I hope you’ll take the time to join the conversation and help us do our jobs better.
Fort Worth Report CEO and Publisher