Publisher: Celebrating 25 years in newspapers

By Brian Whitmore
 
In October 1996, Graham Williams — a mentor to me —hired me as a general assignment reporter for the now defunct Union Daily Times (Union, S.C.).
 
That was my first newspaper job after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications from USC Spartanburg in 1995.
 
Now I celebrate my 25th anniversary as publisher of The Clinton Chronicle.
 
Add in some freelance work for the college newspaper – The Carolinian — and a year of high school journalism at Woodruff High and I’ve got more than 25 years in this business.
 
Some newspapermen say they bleed ink. I do not. I enjoy writing, but it does not define me. My relationship with Jesus Christ defines me. And He’s been with me every step of the way.
 
Back in those early days at the Union Daily Times, things were different. The Internet was just getting its footing when I graduated college and my co-workers at The Times, including me, laughed it off as a fad.
 
Nobody is laughing anymore, as Google and Facebook have cornered the market on Internet advertising.
 
Back then, we shot pictures with 35mm cameras and used darkrooms to process. Today, The Chronicle’s dark room is used as a supply closet and photography is digital.
 
Back then, we printed the paper and pasted it up, before shooting it with a large camera and feeding the film through a processor, before plating and the press. Today, pdfs go direct to plate and the large camera is gathering dust at The Chronicle, a relic of days gone by.
 
Back then, The Daily Times had a staff of 25 people. It went out of business last year with just two.
 
After three years at the Daily Times, I had short stints writing at The (Spartanburg) Herald Journal and The Beaufort Gazette. The Gazette was the coolest place I’ve worked, living on Lady’s Island, just 14 miles from Hunting Island beach.
 
The Gazette, a daily, had six news reporters at the time, around 2000. The editorial department alone had about 20 workers. Today, the Gazette is pretty much a clone of its sister-paper, The (Hilton Head) Island Packet. Only a branch office remains.
 
The Herald-Journal, also a daily, was a New York Times property back then, but has changed ownership multiple times since. It used to house multiple levels of employees, but now is down to one floor.
 
Back to the Daily Times, I went eight years as sports editor. People in Union love their sports. But the Great Recession hit in 2008 and the bottom dropped out of the newspaper industry. When the hatchet men started cutting my friends left and right to increase profit margin, I ventured out with Anna Brown and Graham Williams to start the Union County News, where I learned to do any and all newspaper jobs.
 
I’m proud to say the County News continues the work we started with only Anna and Graham handling the workload.
 
After seven years with the County News, I came to Clinton in 2016. Larry Franklin hired me as a graphic designer. Within six months he retired and was followed by two publishers that only lasted a short time.
 
The opportunity presented itself to offer The Chronicle something it badly needed, stability. Promoted to publisher by Gail Williamson, a group manager for Smith News and publisher of the Forest-Blade (Swainsboro, Ga.), I’ve given my best for The Chronicle’s staff, readers and advertisers.
 
We’ve won general excellence awards from the South Carolina Press Association for 2018, 2019 and 2020 with myself at the helm. I’m proud of that.
I’ve won column-writing awards in 2018, 2019 and 2020. I’m proud of that.
 
We’ve made money in a tough time to make money. I’m proud of that.
 
COVID-19 is proving worse on the newspaper industry than the Great Recession. Times are tough all over, regardless of industry.
 
The Chronicle forges on. Exciting new ideas are coming, including magazines and digital.
 
I want to thank The Chronicle’s readers for reading, its advertisers for advertising and its staff for the great work they do. I thank my wife and child for their support. Most of all, I thank Jesus for being the Rock of my Salvation and unmovable in all storms.
 
I hope my time at The Chronicle and the other papers made and make some small impact to better the communities served.
 
Brian Whitmore is the publisher of The Chronicle. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. Whitmore can be reached at publisher@clintonchronicle.net
 

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