October 24, 2007 News & Features » Cover Story


And One to Grow On 

click to enlarge stylecover25.jpg

by Scott Bass, Craig Belcher, Amy Biegelsen, Jeffrey Bland, Chris Dovi, Kent Eanes, Scott Elmquist, Rozanne Epps, Ed Harrington, Chad Hunt, Elizabeth Kincaid, Jay Paul, Brandon Reynolds, Laurie Rogers, Jason Roop, Stephen Salpukas, Edwin Slipek Jr. and Deveron Timberlake

We can do the math.

Let's say you were a fresh-faced 25-year-old in 1982, enjoying that first apartment, climbing the career ladder, throwing back a few with your friends at the river, wondering if disco really was dead for good.

You're 50 now, and they still play "Dancing Queen" at every wedding reception you've ever been to. Only it's supposedly nostalgic.

Or maybe you were a little older when you first heard about Style's launch -- say, the same age as Mayor L. Douglas Wilder is today, 76.

If so, then you turned 101 this year. (Happy birthday!)

So yes, Richmond. We know. The years creep up on you. And yes, although we're only 25 in a city that just celebrated its 400th, you've got to take into account what 25 equates to in the world of publishing. It's old! It's a midlife crisis! And yes, we're one of those alternative newspapers across the country trying to figure out how to grow with our supposedly aged readers while keeping our younger audience interested.

Fortunately for us, age is just a number.

Because there's something more important than the 25 years behind us, the years that have left our first edition in November 1982 worn and weathered, like the stale, perfumey smell of a funeral home. Or the editorial writers at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

We tend to worry less about our reader demographics and more about who those readers are. What they care about. What they want to know, and deserve to know.

What are those things? 1. Richmond. 2. The truth.

Our readers — wherever their opinions lie on the left-right scale, whatever their bank accounts hold, whoever they look up to — care about Richmond. They walk to a rack or a box and pick up an issue, or check in with our paper online. They seek us out because like us, they are engaged in Richmond, its future and its place in this region.

We do our best to tell them what's changing and what still hasn't. What news has been missed by other media. What it all means. And we try, every week, to give readers the information they need to make intelligent decisions.

Sometimes those decisions aren't life-changing. Maybe it's deciding what show to go to hear in our flourishing music scene. Or which exhibit or play or performance is a must-see. Or where to spend money on Richmond's myriad restaurant choices.

Other times, those decisions take on a broader scope: Who's really in power here, and how can you hold them accountable?

This city has provided an intriguing backdrop for residents who follow its evolution. There's our hurtful history. Should we embrace our past in context or distance ourselves from it? There are issues of race — and not just black and white — that still thump at the heart of debates on monuments, schooling, development and elections.

What do we do about those residents in poverty, those without homes, while we spend tens of millions of dollars on a performing arts center we still can't agree on? How do we reconcile that? Who's really controlling the money that belongs to us all? And in a city that's the Virginia capital, how can we allow state politicians to decide whether some of our buildings can be demolished?

And what will become of our region, in which city and county leaders continue to snipe at each other and still can't seem to understand how we're all in this together?

We can count our years, but we can't count all the questions — or the possibilities — that lie ahead. We also don't pretend to have the answers. All we can do, and all we have done, is to try to help you answer them for yourself.

Thanks for turning 25, or 50, or 101, with us.

Here is issue No. 1,213.

  • 2 Mayor-Governors

  • 3 Issues of Belle (Almost)

  • 4 Big Ideas Richmond's Still Debating

  • 5 Award-Winning Cartoons

  • 6 Pressing Issues Richmond Needs to Confront

  • 7 Food & Drink Trendsetters

  • 8 Memorable Cover Illustrations

  • 9 Artists to Watch

  • 10 Covers Starring L. Douglas Wilder

  • 11 Classic Ads

  • 12 Moving Images

  • 13 Advance Excerpts From the Future

  • 14 Tongue-Lashings From Readers

  • 15 Fiction Writers

  • 16 Other Things That Are 25 Years Old

  • 17 Cases of Foreshadowing

  • 18 Years of Fascinating Neighbors

  • 19 Headlines From The Time Capsule

  • 20 People We'll Never Forget

  • 21 Places To Celebrate

  • 22 Little Ideas for Improving Richmond

  • 23 Radical Ideas on Our Back Page

  • 24 Arts Legends

  • 25 People We Called "Tomorrow's Leaders"
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