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Capital Outlook: Through the Years

Capital Outlook

Capital Outlook: Through the Years

By Staff Writer

     On September 17, 1976, after nearly a year of conceptualizing and team building, The Capital Outlook was officially established by Stephen K. Beasley, a self-taught photographer.

     In 1975, Beasley conceptualized the production of a photo feature newspaper that would highlight the positive aspects and achievements of the Capital City’s Back community.

     In the first editorial titled “Long overdue,” Beasley explained to readers that the Capital Outlook was an experimental publication designed to facilitate the need for improved communication as well as counter the negative stigma associated with Tallahassee’s Black community. The editorial stated that the newspaper was not created to compete with the local daily or “out-of-town newspapers.” Its aim was to deliver to the Black community a “special type of reporting” that was often over-looked by mainstream daily newspapers. Additionally, it expressed the newspaper’s opposition to sensational journalism, a trait that had grown to be associated with contemporary Black newspapers.

     The Capital Outlook began as a tabloid size, biweekly photo feature publication. It printed photos spotlighting the business and church of the week. Pictures of Sunday school activities, weddings, graduations and social gatherings were common among its pages. “Face in the place” was a popular feature in which Outlook photographers snapped candid group photos at football games, weddings, and other social events. In a camera-ready format, the Capital Outlook was printed at the Tallahassee Democrat, which operated a commercial printing division. An annual Capital Outlook subscription cost approximately twelve dollars.

     At its peak during the Beasley era, the Capital Outlook had a circulation of about 1,200 and 10 employees. With no regrets, in December 1978, Beasley sold the paper to a charismatic and politically ambitious Arthur Teele who partnered with Sharon Woodson, a visiting professor of public relations at FAMU’s School of Journalism. Approximately a month prior to transferring ownership to Teele and Woodson, the Capital Outlook became a weekly publication.

     It was under the ownership of Teele and Woodson that the Capital Outlook’s format changed from photojournalism to a news-oriented publication containing current events, general local news, social and community activities and articles from the Associated Press newswire, all written from a Black perspective. Although the original masthead design was kept, the motto was changed from ‘Capital Outlook: Your Photo feature Newspaper,” to “Capital Outlook: Looking at the community from a different perspective.”

     Outlook news coverage was devoted to events and issues that were not typically found in the Tallahassee Democrat. It was written from a Black perspective and focused on activity surrounding FAMU, city and county commission decisions, and the Florida Legislature. Teele and Woodson maintained its original emphasis on positivism and often published articles highlighting awards, achievements and successes in local, state, and national Black communities.

     Indicative of Teele’s political interests and work with labor unions, many articles were political in nature and often localized activity surrounding government relations with unionized employees.  Beasley continued to provide photographs to the newspaper, and FAMU professors and students contributed articles.

     On April 15, 1980, Teele and Woodson sold the paper to Allen and Helen Stucks’. While incorporating sensationalism in their news coverage, they did not veer far from their role as watchdog and advocate for the Black community.  The Stucks’ Outlook worked to keep readers abreast of issues and opportunities surrounding affirmative action measures, local politics affecting the community and achievements won by African Americans in Tallahassee and surrounding areas. Additionally, with many civil liberties battles seemingly won, the Capital Outlook during the Stucks’s administration began to focus on expanding its marketability and profitability by aggressively seeking local and national advertising, and working to reach a broader audience across class lines by adding feature columns that highlighted economic, social, religion and sporting events.

     While they were excited with the paper’s growth and their contribution to the community, running the weekly became an overwhelming challenge, so on December 30, 1983 the Capital Outlook was sold to Geraldine and Walter Smith. During this tenure, the paper took on the characteristics of a Society-Page. The Outlook became a venue to bridge the social gap between the Black and white communities in town. This was done by making sure photographs and news were racially inclusive. The Smiths used the coverage of social functions to highlight positive race relations in the local community. While the paper did grow, it faced criticism from subscribers who began to view the Capital Outlook as a public relations tool used to promote society life and the Smith family. Though challenging, Smith published the paper for nearly nine years, but on March 19, 1991, she sold it to Roosevelt and Cathy Wilson.

     The Wilsons revamped the newspaper’s image, solidified its mission and developed it into a professionally competent newspaper. They came in with the intended mission of making the newspaper reflect the founding ideals of Freedom’s Journal [1) Offsetting Misrepresentation; 2) Youth/Education; 3) Character Development; 4) Civil Rights; and 5) Useful Information]. Wilson’s mission for the paper was “to educate, entertain, and when necessary agitate to advance the cause of our people and humanity in general.” To emphasize the paper’s community-centered focus, he instituted the slogan, “The Capital Outlook: Your Community Newspaper,” and used the motto: “Targeted for the Black community but written for the entire community.”

     On October 12, 2009, the Wilsons sold the newspaper to Rev. Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr. and LIVE Communications, Inc. Holmes entered the challenge with a promise to continue to write about the positive people, activities, and events in the community. Under his leadership, the Capital Outlook has continued to become and be the voice of conscious and courage for the Black community in particular, the whole community in general.


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