Chronicle reaches a milestone
In 1943, the darkest year of World War II, Olan Hicks created the first nationwide newspaper for Churches of Christ. The paper passed through several hands and moved up and down the ladder of success before it seemed to hit a dead-end after John and Dottie Beckloff bought the paper to help it do what John remembered it doing when he was in college. The Chronicle lacked the resources and audience to survive.
J. Terry Johnson, then president of Oklahoma Christian, took that offer to the university’s trustees, encouraging them to provide a needed service to Churches of Christ by enhancing the Chronicle. With approval from the trustees, James Baird became publisher, and Howard Norton was named editor. Thus the first issue was scheduled for September 1981.
Since then, the Chronicle has had three editors: Norton, myself and Lynn McMillon. Norton played a significant role in establishing the purposes of the newspaper and organizing a national council to support and guide the paper. In 1996, Norton elected an early retirement package, and the OC president asked me to serve as editor and McMillon to serve as business manager.
I served as editor from 1996 to 2006, when I retired. McMillon became editor. In 2005, the OC trustees delegated the governance and oversight of the Chronicle to a new and separate board of 22 trustees chaired by Dale Brown until 2010. Deon Fair chairs the present Chronicle board of trustees.
The editors always have relied heavily on a managing editor to direct the newsgathering, design and content of each issue. Norton worked with several until he recruited Joy McMillon, who brought onboard Scott LaMascus. For five years, Joy McMillon and LaMascus, both trained journalists, helped bring the Chronicle to new levels of quality.
In 1989, Joy McMillon moved on to another ministry, and LaMascus went to graduate school. Glover Shipp became managing editor and recruited Lindy Adams as assistant managing editor. Shipp served until 1999 when LaMascus returned to teach at OC and became managing editor. In May 2005, Bobby Ross Jr. became the managing editor.
In 1981, the Chronicle went to fewer than 50,000 homes. This issue will go to more than 118,000, with a readership of a quarter of a million, meaning the Chronicle is opening the window on the worldwide church for more people than ever. Our most recent readers’ survey showed that 91 percent of readers trust the content of the Chronicle, and 95 percent consider it a quality newspaper.
As one who loves the ideal of an international newspaper, I declare that the paper is stronger than ever before. Lynn McMillon, my colleague on the faculty at OC since 1966 and my next-door neighbor since 1972, has a remarkable grasp of churches and church life. His role since 1996 has strengthened the financial and journalistic qualities of the Chronicle. He is by far the most hands-on editor of the Chronicle. His Dialogues reflect research and great insight.
Assistant managing editor Erik Tryggestad came to the newspaper in 2001. He has visited nearly 40 countries to gain insights about the international efforts of Churches of Christ. Ross and his wife, Tamie, both worked for daily newspapers before joining the Chronicle’s staff. Bobby Ross also was an award-winning reporter for The Associated Press. He has reported from 44 states and provided eyewitness accounts of events like Hurricane Katrina. Tamie Ross improved the online Chronicle and now serves as advertising director. Joy McMillon rejoined the Chronicle staff in 1999 as an adviser and reporter. She makes outstanding contributions to the understanding of the church in the 21st century.
I am very proud of all who have shaped the Chronicle since 1981. Today’s staff is the most effective ever. They open very wide the window on the church.
CONTACT [email protected].
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bailey McBride has served the Chronicle for 30 years in addition to his teaching and service as an elder. He is greatly loved by all. His monthly column has been a favorite among readers for those many years.