In matters of recollecting the Via Times’s four-decades of historical success, there’s no other person who can speak about it in the first- person other than the Publisher herself, Ms. Veronica Leighton, the founder, publisher, and Chief Editor of this ever-flourishing community publication. She has been running her media “empire” in print, broadcast, web, and now the social media, singlehandedly for too long, forty years today.
Veronica started out with just her curious and free spirit, gifted with her typical hard work and true grit personality when she starts something. But journalism? She had no background, no college credits for journalism at all. Her college course (Foreign Service) demanded that she had to be a consular official somewhere in the world. “I had to accept the challenge for the purpose of serving our community at that time that was starting to be moving so fast and creating a new panorama of professionals for this country. I thought, as a young immigrant, I can contribute so much in its needed visibility for the mainstream to hear and see us, including the exciting world that reaches far out to our native country.”So,Via Times was born in August, 1982, four-decaded ago,by its birth mother, Veronica V. Leighton.
Although she was dismally faced with negative factors (financial, education, tech know-how, gender) for her so-called “ambition” at that time to enter the journalism field, she had persisted through so many trials and errors, from the start up until now. She only had $300 which she used as a deposit for a new car to solicit advertisers for her free publication; she had no journalism knowledge or publishing know-how–no desktop publishing in that era; she was the only woman that entered the male-dominated world of publishing in the community, and a very young mother and wife to start with.
She recalls the fact that she faced discrimination in the community that she served itself, asking her fearless questions such as, “When is your paper going to obit page of the now-defunct community publications? How could it survive with its so many social coverages, and little politics? How could you compete with the other existing, well-armed male publishers in the community?” Which she answered nonchalantly, “I will put them all to the obit pages, for sure.” Which she did, of course, through the years.
Her most outstanding and impressive trait? She never fails to learn and keep up with the ever-changing world of journalism to keep Via Times Newsmagazine to be “with-it” and “not behind it.” She has learned to keep up with the technology, in her constant monthly work of editing, proofing, and layouting personally each and every VT page. Her curious mind is always on the lookout for developments in helping the community and placing the most outstanding members of the community on the forefront, when she founded the most popular awards recognitions in the country, “The Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame” that celebrated its Silver Anniversary in November, 2019, until Covid attack time.
She has added a sister broadcast media known currently as the Chicago Philippine Reports TV (CPRTV), within ten years of VT founding; in keeping up with the modern world of news-keeping, she has started operating her state-of-the- art website, www.viatimes.net, with its updated changes every month. Her prominent presence in the social media, like Facebook, is something to be reckoned with.
Via Times has received its most prestigious award for “The Best Print Magazine” in 2019 by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas under the office of the President of the Philippines in 2019. It has received Journalism grants from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation for its outstanding Covid epidemic coverages for the community in 2020. Veronica herself was an award recipient of her alma mater, the University of the Philippines Diliman, as one of its Outstanding Alumni at its 20th annual Grand Reunion and Convention held in August-September 2019 in San Francisco, California.
She wistfully added, “Giving Vibrance and Vitality in showcasing the Filipino American Lifestyle and Culture in the Greater Chicago Area in the Midwest is the most important theme of Via Times as a community paper.” And, isn’t this exactly her famous last words when it comes to her atomic love for Via Times? ### – By Anonymous Editorialist –