Employees of the Bulletin started hearing rumblings of a new major project shortly after the group of newspapers of which it was a part was sold in 1989. Special sections were not new; they had been a part of the newspaper for years. But the rumor was it was going to be a mega-special edition called a progress edition. The project was the signature of the Boone organization, the new owners of the Bulletin.
Several months after the deal closed, members of the news and sales departments were invited to attend a seminar at the Hyatt Hotel at DFW Airport. The day-long training session was arranged so employees could learn first hand of the size and scope of the project. There was a new Horizon coming to Central Texas.
The first editions rolled off the presses in 1990, and while they shared the same name in Brownwood and Stephenville, each community’s edition was uniquely its own. The goal of the Horizons edition was to take an in-depth look at the community and tell its story through the people, institutions and businesses. The origin may have started with Boone, but the last eight editions have been published after Boone sold the newspaper in 2000. Bill Crist, in his column Wednesday, wrote of the time and labor involved and what the project entails for the newspaper’s staff. We still have to start in the fall and work on the project for nearly five months. It involves juggling a lot of projects and in some cases postponing them until another time. So why didn’t we give it up when it was no longer a requirement? For me the answer was simple. From the first one in 1990 to the edition in 2008, each represents professional highlights and validation for my move from a metro newspaper environment to community newspapers nearly 30 years ago. The Monday following publication is the single best work day of the year; the accolades from the community the compensation.
Journalists have the duty and the responsibility to report the news of the day for readers. Whatever that news happens to be: from drug raids and traffic accidents to the births, deaths and other matters of public record. It is not our place to make the news, but to try to chronicle it as accurately, objectively and fairly as we have the ability. But once a year, at Horizons time, we can let our bias for our community take center stage.
The news and advertising departments brainstorm together to come up with a theme for the edition, which is really a community theme and provides a common thread to bind the edition. The early start and extra time allow the staff time to develop story ideas and advertising layouts that unveil the sizzle in a business and the reasons behind the success of an organization or institution.
It is coincidental that this week also marked the go-live date of the redesigned Brownwood Bulletin online edition. Technical difficulties of some kind or another delayed the date several times. Personally, I find it fitting that the new wave and the old guard are spotlighting in the same week. The Horizons edition also affords the publisher the opportunity to indulge his personal bias. I understand the direction the industry is heading with electronic delivery of information and also why it is important for the Bulletin to actively participate in the process. I am grateful for the younger managers and staff members who have embraced it and are responsible for us moving forward in that direction. But I want my newspaper published with black ink on 30-pound newsprint. I want to be able to carry it outside and read with my dog or take it into the den and read it in front of the fire with my wife. I want to continue to have the opportunity to crumple the thing up and throw it down when something really angers me or to cut out and save something that really moves me.
So I hope you enjoy the Horizons edition in this morning’s printed newspaper, wherever you choose to read it, because it is the only place you will find it. You may get a little ink on your fingers (it washes off rather easily). I am confident you will find it was worth it.
Robert Brincefield is publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sunday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.