Local Businessman and Philanthropist Wades into the Newspaper Business
Clifton Robinson knows something about risk. During his 50-year business career he has started, acquired and sold a number of insurance companies. Most recently he sold his National Lloyds Insurance Co. for $117.5 million.
Robinson also knows something about Waco. He and his wife Betsy both attended Waco public schools and are graduates of Waco’s Baylor University.
With his acquisition of the Waco Tribune-Herald, scheduled to close July 31, Robinson is combining his love for his hometown with the risk of acquiring a business where he professes to having no experience.
When asked about this, Robinson said, “Our insurance business was selling trust in the form of a contract and servicing that contract. Our newspaper will simply be a repeat of this; selling trust, a first rate quality product, and servicing the customers accordingly. It’s all about trust, sales, quality and service.”
As far as the risk, he said, “Whenever you have risk, you have opportunity. The community newspaper presents great opportunity as it evolves digitally.” The fact that the Tribune-Herald is more than 100 years old was also not lost on Robinson, or his son Gordon, who will be involved in the business. He summed up his feelings by saying the deal was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
The Robinson family is well known in Waco. In 2002, Robinson and his wife received the Philanthropist of the Year award from the Waco Chapter of Professional Fundraisers. The tallest building on the Baylor campus bears the Robinson name. If a cause is worthwhile, Robinson is a supporter. These include endowment funds for institutions of higher education, medical institutions and churches.
When asked about how the new owner of Waco’s newspaper would cover his beloved Baylor University, Robinson said, “I love Baylor University and everything it represents, however if newsworthy events happen, they will be reported objectively and fairly.” He said his newspaper would be “fair and balanced in the truest meaning of the words,” and that it means something to him to have “In God We Trust” on the front page under the name Waco Tribune-Herald.
Robinson said his goal is “to make this newspaper the best community newspaper in the United States, just like we made National Lloyds the best little insurance company in America.”