For the Record: There’s a time for everything
By | May 5, 2022
In the book of Ecclesiastics, we read that there is a time for everything. Today, we celebrate 17 years of publishing the West Texas Tribune. The first edition was published on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2005. It was a time of immense excitement as I loaded my car with papers and begin distributing them at African American churches.
Since Mother’s Day 2005, we have published community news every month, focusing on Abilene and the surrounding area. We plan to continue doing that and, eventually, expand the reach of the paper.
We’ve only missed one publication in the past 17 years, and that was due to the COVID-19. But we later published an extra copy, so we have been consistent.
My wife, Marilyn, and I began to pray about making the paper a nonprofit last year. After prayer and research, we decided to go forward. We applied last fall and received our IRS determination letter a couple months ago.
Today, you are reading the first official copy of Abilene’s only nonprofit newspaper. There were several factors that went into our decision to go the nonprofit route: 1) After much research, we see this as an effective model for community-based newspapers. 2) We believe that a community-based newspaper plays an important role in the life of a community, and we invite you to be a part of the conversation. 3) We believe that for the West Texas Tribune or any newspaper to survive and thrive over the next 17 years and further, it will take an engaged citizenry, whether that be through donations, ads or subscriptions.
We have provided a free newspaper for the community for 17 years. Thanks to the advertisers who helped fund the paper. A special shout out to Neomia Banks at State Farm, who has had an ad in every edition. When ad revenue was short, our family made up the difference. Today we have a much larger vision for the newspaper, and in order to reach those goals it will take more resources in terms of people and money.
Over the next few months, we will talk more specific about our vision. For now, I will say it is wrapped up in our mission statement, which states: Our mission is to inform and engage the citizens of Abilene and surrounding communities by providing fair, factual and reliable in-depth news stories about local government, institutions, non-profit institutions, issues, and people. Our nonprofit journalism amplifies voices in disinvested neighborhoods and explores solutions for those seeking social, economic, criminal justice and racial equality.
I would like to conclude this section of The Record by reprinting a piece that ran on page 2 of the first edition:
“Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to the first edition of The West Texas Tribune.
We pray that the community will be served in a positive way by this paper. It is with a great amount of hope and excitement that we present this first edition.
We believe that the ultimate success of the paper is held in the hands of those we serve. We ask you to join us in this effort and we solicit your help in four areas.
1 We solicit your prayers.
2 We ask that you would serve, as an extra set of eyes and ears looking for stories that you believe should be covered.
3 When possible, we ask that you give our sponsors an opportunity to compete for your business.
4 We need feedback, both positive and negative.”
We believe that those sentiments from 17 years ago are applicable today and we ask for your moral and financial support as we move forward.
We do want to say Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, and we hope you enjoy reading the stories and tributes that have been written about mothers. Today, I am reprinting the tribute that I paid to my mother-in-law in the first edition. It’s entitled “Remembering Muh.”