Balancing Past, Present, and Future - By Marla Bickel


 (Originally published in the December 4, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.

 By Marla Bickel

By Marla Bickel

"What’s the future of The Blood-Horse?”

This is the question many readers, advertisers, and industry partners have asked during the many conversations I’ve had since I assumed the role of Blood-Horse Publications’ publisher and CEO Nov. 1. The answer has two parts.

While the future often seems unpredictable, we will be here imagining, planning for, and realizing it. Getting to those goals, however, requires a balancing act with the present and the past.

The Blood-Horse is fortunate to have a strong past from which we can learn, a long and rich history as the Thoroughbred industry’s authoritative voice. Since its founding in 1916, the publication continues to serve its audience with news, insights, and features that cover every aspect of Thoroughbred racing life and historical events. The publication’s mission is simple and straightforward: the preservation and prosperity of the Thoroughbred industry.

When The Blood-Horse was purchased in 1935 by the American Thoroughbred Breeders Association, John Hay Whitney said of the magazine: “Its whole idea, as far as its editorial pages are concerned, will be to support racing as a sport in which the interest of breeders, owners, trainers, riders, promoters, and public shall have their just portion of consideration.”  

So in the present, we continue our mission. Our publication has a strong reputation for and a commitment to quality, and we will continue focusing on providing accurate, pertinent, and provocative content. The Blood-Horse has been richly honored by its peers in the Thoroughbred industry with Eclipse Awards and by the American Horse Publications and many other professional organizations for writing, photography, design, and service to our readers. We look forward to earning more accolades.

The present has provided us with a number of challenges, too, in both the Thoroughbred industry and the publishing world. We embrace rather than shy away from these challenges while recognizing that none of our problems will be solved by one person or one group. It will take a community of dedicated industry professionals to resolve the issues, and we will continue giving that community a voice. The Blood-Horse, as part of that community, will continue bringing issues to the table, present diverse viewpoints, and challenge assumptions. Effective communication will be key in finding solutions.The Blood-Horse also must meet the demands of a world that is 24/7. You, the reader, expect news, features, and analysis whenever, wherever, and on whatever platform you desire. Print magazine, digital magazine, website, or mobile—you want us to be wherever you are.

So what does the future hold? I can assure you we will respect our past and continue to focus on editorial quality. We will meet the present challenges by focusing on depth and breadth of coverage. I can also assure you that we will be wherever, whenever, and on whatever platform you want. We continue to develop new ways to share information with our readers.

There is no doubt that what you want in a magazine will change. We recognize that readers use our publication in different ways. Some of you read it cover to cover; others prefer to read the features and personality profiles first, while others jump straight to the graded stakes section to learn about the connections of the previous week’s stakes winners. Many of you have embraced the Web as a great supplement to the print magazine and dive right into its constant stream of news and information. As your habits change, we need to respond by shaping the design and content of our magazine to suit you.  

Through the years The Blood-Horse has informed and educated horsemen, professionals, and fans about events, trends, and issues affecting the industry, and it has provided a forum for debate about those trends and issues. Your feedback drives us.  

What is the future of The Blood-Horse? This leads us to part two of the answer: What the future is is up to you.

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