On January 13, 1899, Theodore Gettys Cobb (1867-1916) launched the Burke County News, in Morganton, North Carolina. Distributed weekly on Friday, the newspaper included news from Morganton and surrounding Burke County in western North Carolina. Bearing the subtitle “First of all—the news,” the News augmented its local coverage with short articles about farming and maintaining a home. In the newspaper’s debut issue, Cobb noted that he would bring readers stories from beyond Burke County, promising that “the more important news of the State and nation will not be neglected.” A three-month subscription to the News cost 25 cents, with a six-month subscription increasing to 40 cents, and a one-year subscription totaling 75 cents.
Born in Newton, North Carolina, in neighboring Catawba County, Cobb began work at 13 alongside his father, Robert Alexander Cobb (1831-1901), in publication of the Blue Ridge Blade in Morganton. The senior Cobb was a local businessperson whose endeavors included real estate and printing. Together, the Cobbs launched the Morganton Star (Morganton, N.C.) in 1885. Theodore Cobb served as editor and proprietor, while Alexander Cobb held the title of business manager. The Cobbs announced their sale of the Star in the October 24, 1889 issue. The new owner continued publication under the title of Morganton Star for one issue and then began publishing as the Morganton Herald on November 7, 1889.
Although he turned over ownership of the Star, Theodore Cobb appears to have continued his connection with the newspaper. The November 7, 1895 issue of the Press and Carolinian of Hickory, North Carolina, announced the sale of the Morganton Herald to Cobb, adding that he had “been with the Herald from the first.” The Press and Carolinian further noted that Cobb was “a good printer and first class business young man, and Mr. Cobb knows he is the business man and not the editor.” That statement held true for about a year. On November 11, 1896, Cobb wrote that he had also assumed the role of editor. Ten months later, Cobb reported his sale of the Herald in the newspaper’s September 23, 1897 issue.
In addition to providing news, Cobb used the pages of the Burke County News to promote the policies of the Democratic Party, which, after a short period of Republican Party rule, returned to power in North Carolina in 1898. Cobb’s party loyalty led to positions as a Morganton commissioner and his appointment as a clerk in the North Carolina House of Representatives, a political position he held from 1903 through 1916. Cobb also served as historian of the North Carolina Press Association in 1907 and 1908.
In 1901, Cobb repurchased the Herald and merged it with the News to form the News-Herald of Morganton. He remained editor and publisher of the News-Herald until his death on July 5, 1916. Cobb’s daughter, Beatrice, assumed responsibility for the News-Herald upon her father’s death.