A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jeff Jobe turned misfortune into opportunity to build a weekly newspaper group in Kentucky

By Rick Elmore
The Greenup Beacon

Jeff Jobe knows misfortune can lead to opportunity.

Jobe, a Greenup County native, got an opportunity to attend college after a boating accident on the Ohio River as a boy cost him his leg.

In high school, certain that after graduation he would be working in the plants or mills around the area in 1981, Jobe suddenly had a disability offer to attend a semester at the University of Kentucky.
Jobe credited his good grades, high ACT scores and the best blessing he said he had in losing his leg to opening the door to college.

Jeff Jobe at his childhood home in Greenup

The president of Jobe Publishing Inc. graduated from UK, rose to success in the newspaper industry and is finishing a one-year term as president of the Kentucky Press Association.

Not bad for a boy who grew up on Main Street in Greenup in a single-parent household with two other siblings.

“I believe in what we do,” said Jobe. “The newspaper industry has been good to me. It’s been good to my family.”

That same newspaper industry has also taken Jobe out of the state. He first began working for the Louisville Courier-Journal right out of college in the management trainee program.

As part of that program, Jobe would work in each department of the newspaper. Then, as a position would open, he could apply for that spot.

When the paper was purchased by the Gannett Company, he was transferred to different jobs in other cities and states, beginning with his first job away from Kentucky, in Rochester, New York.

“It snowed 17 inches on my first day there,” said Jobe, who was circulation director there. “I had to meet people who were going to go door-to-door selling newspaper subscriptions.

“It was nothing to them to get 17 inches of snow overnight, so they were used to it, but it wore me out.”
Jobe said he earned four promotions in five years, doubling his salary.

Then, Jobe changed companies, going to work for Thompson Newspapers which took him for a time to Quebec, Canada.

It was time when newspapers where “cash cows,” Jobe said. At the same time when companies expected profit margins of 28 to 30 percent, Jobe noticed it was the smaller newspapers that were outperforming the bigger ones.

Once he learned that much of the loss was from turnover, Jobe said he began working to help create strategies that would retain employees from leaving the company.

Jobe said his success in helping the company didn’t translate into job security. Jobe accepted a corporate buyout at Thompson Newspapers.

Although Jobe said he had a job in-hand at the Los Angeles Times, when a talk with his then father-in-law encouraged a move back to Kentucky.

Jeff Jobe at his Elementary School in Greenup.

Jobe secured a bank loan, a loan from his father-in-law, and cash from his 401k to buy a weekly newspaper in Butler County in 1998. It was scary move he said, though it was one he thought was necessary for his family.

The LA Times interviewed more than once, he said, and on a flight back home, Jobe said he realized he hadn’t seen his young son in a week.

“I knew if I wasn’t careful, my son would grow up without a dad like I did,” Jobe said. “It was different circumstances for me, but my parents were divorced when I was seven.”

At the weekly newspaper, Jobe began to learn the editorial side of the business as a writer, editor and photographer.

Eventually, one weekly newspaper turned into several newspapers. What started out as three employees grew into a staff of 60 and Jobe Publishing Inc. is now a $7 million company, Jobe said.

In 2003, Jobe joined the Kentucky Press Association and today is its longest serving board member.

As president whose term ends at the end of 2020, Jobe inherited an organization that was $500,000 debt when he took over and said, “We’re looking at having a year-end profit of $75,000 during a pandemic.”

Busy with three kids, Jobe said it is not likely that he will get many chances or have the reason to return to Greenup County.

Jobe’s mother left the house where he grew up in Greenup and moved to Flatwoods where she died in October 2019. Jobe brought his family back for the funeral, had a picture taken in front of the house where grew up. He had another taken in front of the former Greenup elementary school.

With three kids and the youngest now in UK’s engineering program Jobe said he’s grateful for the times he’s been able to bring his kids to the places in Greenup County where he spent time as a young boy.

“I came back to Kentucky to grow my family, because I can’t think of a better place to raise a family,” Jobe said.

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