Chronicle moves closer to independence
Friday, October 26, 2007
By Jed Lovejoy
the largest circulation numbers of any Christian newspaper, the
Christian Chronicle is a valuable asset to Oklahoma Christian
The Chronicle has a rich history dating back to its first publication
as a weekly newspaper in 1943. Since that time it has been in and out
of circulation and moved from Abilene, Texas to Nashville, Tenn. and
then to Oklahoma City, Okla. Once it reached Oklahoma it was owned by
John Beckloff. Beckloff gave the Chronicle to Oklahoma Christian in
Bailey McBride, editor emeritus of the Christian Chronicle, and
Howard Norton, former Oklahoma Christian professor, were the first
editors appointed to the Chronicle on Oklahoma Christian’s campus. They
remembered the impact it had on their early Christian lives and
endeavors and hoped to provide this service to other Christians.
The Chronicle was back in publication in 1981 and has been published on Oklahoma Christian’s campus since that date.
Since former President of Oklahoma Christian James Baird bought the
Chronicle, it has been the property of the university. For the first 15
years the Chronicle was a financial burden to Oklahoma Christian and
its production costs were being subsidized by the Oklahoma Christian
“The Chronicle never quite raised enough money to cover our expenses
until Dr. McMillon became the business representative. As of then, 11
years ago, the Chronicle has always met its expenses and is paying back
its debt to the university,” McBride said.
Lynn McMillon, president, CEO & editor of the Christian
Chronicle, is pleased with the progress the Chronicle has made in the
past 11 years.
“The Chronicle is actually making the university money. This is due
to an increase in the sale of advertisements and donations from
patrons,” McMillon said.
Not only has the monetary value of the Chronicle increased, but its
circulation has increased to 106,024 individual subscriptions in print
form and the Chronicle Web site gets about 1.1 million hits per month.
Four years ago the Chronicle leadership was restructured and a
separate Christian Chronicle Board of Trustees was formed with its own
charter and by-laws. These board members report to the Oklahoma
Christian Board of Trustees and President Mike O’Neal, who is also a
member of the Christian Chronicle board.
This Chronicle board actually makes the policies that run the newspaper
and expect the university to carry out these policies. They expect the
President to conduct the paper in a way that maintains its financial
stability and its relationship with Churches of Christ.
“In the future, the Chronicle hopes to become completely independent in every respect,” McMillon said.
As one of the steps to become more independent, the Chronicle is
always seeking to add highly qualified journalists to its staff.
One of the newest additions to the staff is Bobby Ross, managing
editor. Ross worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press
in Dallas for 15 years and won multiple awards in those positions. As a
graduate of Oklahoma Christian, this campus is an important place for
him and his family.
“When I left [Dallas]… I took a substantial pay cut. The primary
reason I was willing to do that was the opportunity to use my God-given
talents in a full-time ministry,” Ross said.
Erik Tryggestad, assistant managing editor, joined the Chronicle in
2001 and became the first staff member to hold a masters degree in
journalism while working for the Chronicle.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work here. Bailey (then the editor of
the Chronicle) was the first person I met after I got off the plane.
Five minutes later, I knew I wanted the job,” Tryggestad said.
Both Ross and Tryggestad appreciate all the benefits that working
through Oklahoma Christian provides. They are able to have access to
the university health plans, cafeteria, fitness center and tuition
discounts, but, more importantly, they have access to university
classes and knowledgeable professors.
“I have taken a Spanish class here, and I occasionally sit in on
classes taught by Dr. Carpenter and others to gain some insight on
stories I’m writing,” Tryggestad said.
One aspect of the Chronicle McMillon hopes to develop is that of internship possibilities.
“There are internship possibilities; we currently have a student,
Jonathan Cannon, who is writing some stories for us. The board is also
exploring the possibility of creating a summer internship for students.
Unfortunately, that is not an aspect of the paper that we have fully
developed yet,” McMillon said.
Taylor Walling had the opportunity to do his first practicum with
the Chronicle. He didn’t do any writing for the paper, but did many
obituaries, Around the Nation updates, a phone survey on instrumental
music and had some articles published in the Chronicle online.
“I learned what it’s like to pay dues when working at a paper. But I
know that Bobby has a formidable reputation among Oklahoma journalists
and I know if I needed to get a contact for a paper he’d be the guy to
call. Erik was probably my best example of an extremely committed
writer,” Walling said.
The main struggle the Chronicle has faced is trying not to become a
publicity publication for Oklahoma Christian. McMillon stands firm in
the fact that the Chronicle needs to serve all Churches of Christ and
Christians in all fifty states. This can be a major challenge when the
news on campus and in the Oklahoma City metro area is the easiest news
to report on.
News from Oklahoma Christian’s campus often has a higher standard to
meet in order. Although unwritten, the Chronicle believes it must do
this in order to remain a fair newspaper. This standard doesn’t
necessarily apply to the advertisements Oklahoma Christian runs in the
Chronicle. Oklahoma Christian runs advertisements in the Chronicle for
free as a way for the Chronicle to repay its debt to the university.
“My colleagues and I try to treat Oklahoma Christian just as we
would any other university associated with Churches of Christ. In some
cases, the bar for getting news into the Chronicle may be even higher
for Oklahoma Christian as we try too hard to make it clear we don’t
play favorites,” Ross said.
Since the Chronicle began its stay at Oklahoma Christian 26 years
ago, it has grown in reputation, size and clout, but they still admit
they have many areas they could improve. Now with overall satisfaction
with the Chronicle at an all time high, the Chronicle is as much of a
credit to Oklahoma Christian as the university is for the Chronicle.