Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Hay Loft Reporters

In 1873 Henry B. Brumbaugh was the editor of The Pilgrim, one of the four main church periodicals among the Brethren. He knew that most of his readers wanted a report of speeches at the Annual Meeting (to be held that year in a barn at Meyersdale, PA), but he was aware that the church was hardly ready to accept full reporting.

He wrote later, "Our decision was in favor of the report and we planned to get it in a way that would cause no disturbance in the meeting. So we employed our reported ... and located him on the hay loft directly over the floor where the meeting was held. It was not as desirable a position as our reporters now get, but it was good enough to get a fairly satisfactory report. The interesting feature of the occasion was that Bro. H.R. Holsinger, of the Christian Family Companion, also had a reporter for his paper and brought him to the hay loft. Though competitors, we personally were on good terms and united our efforts in getting as good a report as possible."

The Annual Meeting that year was still inclined to place restrictions on reports, ruling that a synopsis of reasons leading up to a decision could be given but no names of speakers were to be included. Holsinger insisted, however, in publishing the names in next year's report. Brumbaugh tried to help his readers by numbering each speaker and printing separately a "key" that would give the names for each number. He said, "The demand for the key proved as great as it was for the report." Both editors were called to account, but a year later the Annual Meeting decided in favor of a stenographic report.

Source: Ken Morse sidebar in The Brethren Encyclopedia