Small but mighty

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Four. Six if you count part-timers. Seven if you count my dad, who does Pennsylvania distribution. Eight if you count Barry Watson, who handles Maryland and Virginia. Other than the occasional freelance writer, some independent advertising sales people, a core group of freelance photographers and a cast of volunteers, that’s the staff of Steeplechase/Eventing Times. We only have a few people. But we do good work. And that’s the point.

Last week in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., we were honored to receive a General Excellence Award in the American Horse Publications contest for material published in 2007. Judges gushed about our newspaper’s overall quality: “Brilliant writing and editing, superb leads on every page, from the cover story to the obits. Witty, pithy and sophisticated – goes way beyond ‘who won what where.’ Design, text, covers, photography, paper stock all support the editorial mission. Offers an intimate, insider’s view of the world it covers that’s unmatched in its division, perhaps in the industry.”

Thanks. We’re flattered. All four of us. OK, eight or so. Regardless of the count we come up with, we’re smaller than the other guys. Our peer in the tabloid/newspaper division, Thoroughbred Times (which received an honorable mention) lists 27 people on its editorial staff. And that’s not counting 32 correspondents. Editorial staff. Hah. Our staff does it all. For an employee (or company owner), a day at work could include selling an ad, writing a story, answering the phone, delivering papers, updating the subscription database, tweaking the website, giving a Steeplechase 101 lecture, pretty much anything.

When we started Steeplechase Times way back in 1994, people told us it would never work. Too small a sport, too indifferent a fan base, too much work. Some publishing experts told us that newspapers that start for editorial reasons – like ours – never last. Start a newspaper for advertising reasons, that’s how you make it.

Even though we sometimes agree with those people, we’re still at it. Since the humble beginning, we’ve added to our company where now it counts several products among its stable. We took the Steeplechase Times concept to Saratoga and Keeneland, added eventing coverage, took over the Thoroughbred Racing Calendar, published a book, created an Internet site (now in its third generation), freelanced for bigger-name publications and carried on through various economic ups and downs.

And why does this history lesson matter? Because we couldn’t do it without you – the reader, the advertiser, the supporter, the partner. Small business isn’t easy. Often it isn’t pretty. Sometimes it’s scary. We appreciate your connection to our business and hope you are pleased with the products we produce.

Somewhere a business-school professor would cringe if we didn’t hit you with even the slightest sales pitch, so keep us in mind for some advertising, subscriptions (you and/or a friend), and/or a purchase in our online store (where everything’s on sale!).

Thanks for being there.