Time and Tradition was the theme for Horizons in 2006 when the county was celebrating the Sesquicentennial and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce was celebrating its 100th anniversary. At the time it seemed a natural way to unify the stories, photos and advertising in an edition publishing during an area wide celebration.
Included in this morning’s newspaper is the Bulletin’s annual Horizons Edition for 2010. The theme for this year is simply 21, which represents the number of years the newspaper has produced the edition. In thinking about this year, it seems to me we could have easily used the Time and Tradition theme again. For two decades the exercise for the employees of the Bulletin was not one of choice, it was a company directive. It began in 1990 after the new owners of the newspaper had taken over management of the newspapers from the Woodson Family the previous summer. The progress edition (Horizons) was a signature special section for all of the Boone Newspapers and Brownwood was not going to be an exception.
After the Boone ownership rein ended in 2000, the Bulletin continued publishing Horizons for another nine years, bringing the total number of editions up to 20. We pondered the question last fall if we should continue. The New Year was going to signal the start of another decade, the effects of the economic recession were still being felt and there was no longer a clear-cut corporate position on the project. We asked if it may be time, after 20 years, to explore a new direction. Somewhat to my surprise, the employees at the Bulletin elected to continue with Horizons. I am sure some weight was given to workload and the frenetic five-month schedule of publishing print and electronic newspapers six days a week in addition to an edition as large as Horizons. But in the end the desires of you the readers won out. The employees look forward to the comments they receive from the community the days and weeks following the publishing of Horizons. It becomes readily evident that the community looks forward to the edition.
We have tried different formats of delivery. Several years we published a section a day over a one-week period. While that made it a little easier for the production and delivery people, we were told by our readers and advertisers they preferred the one big thud on paper day. Sunday is a day most readers have more time to spend with the newspaper. They can relax and read multiple sections without feeling rushed. Since 2004 we have been publishing Horizons all together as a part of the Sunday newspaper on the last Sunday in February.
Journalists have the duty and responsibility to present an impartial report on the news of the day. The good news like births and anniversaries, playoff games won and UIL awards received; photos of the winners in the largest buck contest and the prize winning animals at the Junior Livestock Show. We also have an obligation to report the not so good news like drug raids, thefts and traffic accidents. This past year the stories surrounding the economy were more frequently in the not so good news category than they were the former. That was particularly true for key industries that have historically driven print advertising sales.
Coincidentally, the first Horizons edition, “The Dawn of the 90s,” was published at a time the state was trying to rebound from a sagging economy, increased unemployment and sharp rises in the cost of higher education. One of the section fronts pictured managers from the leading industries in Brownwood. Today we hear from economic and political leaders around the state that it is this economic diversity that has helped lessen the impact of the economic downturn on this community. Texas is doing better than the country as a whole and Brownwood is doing better than the state.
This morning’s edition will revisit some of the topics in the first Horizons in 1990 from a 20-year perspective. Ross Setzler, marketing director in 1990, was quoted in Gene Deason’s column Friday as saying that it was the community that made the project happen. The same remains true today – literally – it is the response by the community that encouraged us to continue the tradition.
Robert Brincefield is vice president and publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sunday. He may be reached by e-mail at bob.brincefield@