3 Eastern Iowa weekly papers sold

North Scott Press
The North Scott Press – along with the Wilton-Durant Advocate News and the West Liberty Index – have been sold to a Wyoming newspaperman by its longtime owners Bill and Linda Tubbs. The sale is effective, Thursday, Sept. 1. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Three eastern Iowa weekly newspapers, including the North Scott Press in Eldridge, have been sold to a 37-year-old Wyoming man who is owner of numerous community newspapers across the nation.

The North Scott Press, The Wilton-Durant Advocate News, and The West Liberty Index have been sold to J. Louis “Louie” Mullen of Buffalo, Wyoming, according to a story posted today, Aug. 31, on the North Scott Press website. 

The three community papers have been owned by Bill and Linda Tubbs of Eldridge. The sale will be effective Thursday, Sept. 1. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“Bill and Linda Tubbs have a long tradition of operating great community newspapers. I’m a firm believer that your community newspaper is a strong and independent voice that reflects the community,” Mr. Mullen said in the North Scott Press story. “The Tubbses have made it their life’s work to assure your communities have a trusted voice in the newspaper and I intend to honor that tradition.”

Mr. Tubbs added that “we believe the future is in good hands with an owner who understands the value of independent community journalism.”

Mr. Mullen intends to keep all current staff members of the eastern Iowa newspapers, according to the news story. His representative, Joshua Byers, of Harlan, Iowa, is scheduled to be in the local communities in the next few days to assist the newspaper staffs with the ownership transition, according to the North Scott Press.

When the ownership transition is done, Linda Tubbs will retire. Mr. Tubbs will continue to write his “Impressions” column and write other stories and take photos for the North Scott Press.

“Bill and Linda have assembled a great team and have a reputation for being good to their employees,” Mr. Byers added. He is a board member with the Iowa Newspaper Foundation and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

Mr. Mullen owns newspapers in eight states. But his roots remain in Wyoming, where he was raised in Newcastle and now lives in Buffalo with his wife, Dr. Lisa Mullen, and their two daughters.

He is part of a second-generation newspaper family. Both of Mr. Mullen’s parents are involved in newspapers, and his two brothers also own newspapers. Mr. Mullen’s newspaper interests include publications in Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Washington, Michigan and Oregon, according to the Cody Enterprise newspaper in Wyoming. Mr. Mullen also owns these Iowa newspapers: Harlan Tribune, Red Oak Express and the Glenwood Opinion-Tribune.

Mr. Tubbs, a native of Elwood, Iowa, graduated from Iowa State University in 1971 with a degree in agricultural journalism. He and his wife, Linda, have been co-owners and co-publishers. He became the first resident publisher of the North Scott Press in 1971, partnering with Robert and Frances Melvold and Robert Parrot, who were publishers of the DeWitt Observer. In 1980, he and his wife became publishers of the Wilton-Durant Advocate News.

Mr. Tubbs has been recognized for his dedication, including receiving the James O. Amos Award from the National Newspaper Association in 2015 in honor of his distinguished service and leadership to the community press. He also is past president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, an Iowa Master Editor-Publisher and a recipient of the Iowa Newspaper Association’s Distinguished Service Award. 

For Mr. Mullen, this is his latest newspaper purchase deal in the past several years. Some of his other deals include:

  • He bought the Cody Enterprise newspaper in Wyoming this spring.
  • In April, he bought The Gillette News Record of Gillette, Wyoming.
  • This summer, he acquired The Lennox Independent and Tea Weekly in southeastern South Dakota from Independent Publishing, LLC. 
  • In 2019, he purchased the operations of the West River Eagle of Eagle Butte, the Mobridge Tribune, the Monday Reminder and the Potter County News of Gettysburg, all in South Dakota, from Larry and Roberta Atkinson of Mobridge, South Dakota.

“Community newspapers reflect the soul of America,” Mr. Mullen said in an article for the Harlan newspaper.  “At our best, we’re just a reflection of the community, our businesses, and our families.”

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