LONDON — It was in December 2010 that I first volunteered to be editor of Rural Life Today. That happened at a meeting of editors and our group publisher in Wilmington who envisioned a new monthly product aimed at Ohio’s farming and agriculture community.
It would start the following March. I was already publisher and editor at The Record-Herald in Washington Court House, so I wasn’t eager to add on any more duties. But I actually liked the concept of a niche publication actually aimed at a segment of our community not being well served by the media.
I also liked the idea of expanding my own knowledge base — I didn’t know much about farming and agriculture, but I was willing to learn. Above all, I wanted to get lots of feedback from the public and manage a publication that actually ran content that catered to what readers wanted – not what the media just dished out to them.
That publication that started in March, 2011 had a circulation of about 10,000, ran just in a handful of southwest Ohio counties and was then called “ACRES.”
It took off like gangbusters (as we suspected it would), and within a couple of years had expanded to all parts of Ohio, serving more than 60,000 readers monthly in six zoned regions. With changes in ownership, our name changed a couple of times; from ACRES to “MyOwn Rural Life” (really?), to what it is now – Rural Life Today.
A few years ago I was asked to head up the editorial content for Rural Life in all six regions full-time, devoting all my attention to writing and planning the editions each month. This gave me the chance to really dive deeper into what people in the farming and agriculture find important.
Several years ago I was able to put together a package of 19 articles – yes 19 – on the issue of GMO versus non-GMO, cutting through all the myths and misperceptions of this divisive debate.
And most important I had the chance to interview and profile so many people in our farming communities, showcasing what is strong and positive about the people who make up Ohio agriculture. I always told people that I had the best job in journalism!
Early last year, when an opening at one of our daily newspapers was offered to me, I decided to take the plunge back into the “daily news” operation again at The Madison Press. I was able to add someone to help part-time with Rural Life since I was now doing three jobs: Rural Life editor, General Manager at the Madison Press and Editor at the Press. But I really didn’t get the time to devote to Rural Life like I should have.
So for a number of reasons, I decided it was time to retire and give it a rest from the daily stresses and challenges of working for the news media. My last day as editor and GM at the Madison Press was (or is, depending on when you get this edition) Jan. 12.
However, the company is interested in my staying on with Rural Life Today for at least the time being. We’re still talking about that, so we will see.
One way or the other, I must tell all of you devoted readers of Rural Life Today that I have loved this job and loved meeting so many great people in the agriculture and farming community.
The last two years at the annual Farm Science Review Rural Life has had a booth in one of the buildings over the three days last year and in 2016.
What I loved so much about manning the booth and talking with all the people who came to our booth was the positive comments I received. I know we in the media have taken quite a few hits in the last year for bias and slanted news – a lot of this well deserved criticism, I might add.
So it felt great talking with everyone and getting the positive feedback about Rural Life and the many suggestions for stories and coverage.
As we start 2018, I know there are many challenges ahead for Ohio farmers and our rural community. My hope is that Rural Life Today will continue to serve this community with news and information you need and will enjoy throughout the coming year.
Gary Brock can be reached at 937-556-5759 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org