Monday, May. 20, 2024

The First Principles Remain

When I first joined the Chronicle staff in 1987 as an intern, the magazine was celebrating its 50th birthday. It was a huge accomplishment for the many people who have been involved with the magazine for decades, and the commentary that Publisher Peter Winants wrote in celebration of the milestone that year could be reprinted today in complete confidence.
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When I first joined the Chronicle staff in 1987 as an intern, the magazine was celebrating its 50th birthday. It was a huge accomplishment for the many people who have been involved with the magazine for decades, and the commentary that Publisher Peter Winants wrote in celebration of the milestone that year could be reprinted today in complete confidence.

Mr. Winants stressed stability as the key ingredient to the magazine’s success. “The Chronicle’s continuity in purpose and personnel is the key, I feel, to its support through the past half century by subscribers and advertisers,” he noted.

This year, as the magazine observes 70 years, eight of the 19 employees on the staff in 1987 remain on the Chronicle’s masthead. Patricia Boyce, the business manager, has crunched numbers here for 43 years, while Jane Furr, the production manager, and Mildred Ann Sudduth, the classifieds manager, have each logged 42 years. Not far behind are Gloria Broy, the circulation manager, Lee Leach, the production assistant, and Joy Reid, who works in composition, who each have spent 38 years at the magazine. Dianna Gregg, in display advertising, has reached 28 years, while editorial staff member Sharon Rose counts 23 years.

And while the magazine has evolved over the years from its beginning as the small-town newspaper of Middleburg, its staff have continued to retain bits and pieces of that original format, including the distinctive cover design that you can see reproduced from Vol. 1, No. 1 of Sept. 17, 1937 in this week’s “A Look Back” (p. 47).

The editorial content of the first issue would have only looked vaguely familiar, for the periodical back then was produced on half-sheet newsprint, and newspaper style articles filled the front page. “Top of the fold”  headlines for first page articles, with long headlines and subheads, just about told the entire stories that followed. And the articles ran the gamut from Middleburg’s new mayor taking office to reports on steeplechase and horse show victories.

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In this week’s “A Look Back” installment, the first in a series that will observe the magazine’s evolution, we also provide a glimpse of the early Chronicle, which included many departments that are now long extinct (many for good reasons!), including multiple gossip columns, a farming column, a column devoted to recipes and classifieds that offered for sale a myriad of non-horsey items, many of which would never make the cut into today’s magazine.

When The Middleburg Chronicle first rolled off the presses, Stacy B. Lloyd Jr. was publisher and editor, while Gerald B. Webb Jr., was managing editor. Their first issue included the “First Principles” of the magazine (p. 47), published on the front page, that eloquently described their mission and the reasons they believed the publication would be successful. 

Their words still ring true:  “The Middleburg Chronicle is an enterprise which asks the cooperation of everyone interested in the countryside. In its devotion to the welfare of the people, their farms and their horses, the Chronicle seeks a place for itself where it will not move forgotten or unheeded. The editors need the support of all, so that its pages may provide interest, amusement, and the news of a nationally known community, impartially and without prejudice.”

For 70 years the Chronicle has been fortunate to have a loyal family of subscribers and advertisers, and today’s staff—both veterans and newcomers—appreciate the opportunity to provide you with the only weekly equestrian news magazine in the United States. And we’ll continue to develop and enhance the magazine (and complementary website) into one that you’ll want to read for the next 70 years and beyond.

Tricia Booker

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