A great tsunami of events have been hitting the newspaper business. It isn’t hard to figure out that the growth of the internet and the slow death of smaller retail businesses has lead to a steady decline in newspaper stability.
Remember when there were three jewelry stores on the square in Bryan — Shuck’s, Schatzer’s and Hickman’s. Remember when there were three drugs stores on the square — Ringer’s, Keen’s and Sutter’s. Remember when there where many outstanding clothing stores on the square — Uhlman’s, Hawk’s, Charles Co and Russell’s, to name a few.
They are all gone. And what replaces them? Not much really. Some second hand stores and more businesses and restaurants. Not retail. That’s just the way it is and it really isn’t going to change much no matter what we do.
I know it’s sad. Depressing. What can we do for the Bryan square? We can continue to make it look good. Don’t let it get run down. Building owners and building occupants need to keep following the guidelines of the Ohio State School of Architecture to make our downtown the symbolic heart of the community. This will not bring retail to town but it will help make the Bryan community look attractive to the outside world. We can do that.
And, you all can figure out how this affects your hometown newspaper. Revenue is down. Circulation is down. Advertising is down. Staff must be cut to survive.
We all should ask ourselves, “How important is it to have a daily newspaper in Williams County?”
I would say, VERY IMPORTANT. VITAL. No other paper is going to cover your council meeting, your school board meeting, your county commissioners, your local courts, your local sports, like The Bryan Times. It just won’t happen. We can’t learn the facts from Facebook or other sources on the internet. We all know, what is said on Facebook is not always factual.
So, what’s the point here?
The Bryan Times needs your support like never before. Not only do they need new subscribers, but more importantly, The Times needs increased advertising support. The Times will not survive unless advertisers see the benefit of a strong daily newspaper. Advertising drives the newspaper business, with over 75 percent of revenue coming from advertising.
The Cullis family has done their best to operate The Bryan Times as a local newspaper that strongly supports the community and all Williams County events. As a person who worked for three generations of the Cullis family — Cass Cullis, Ford Cullis and Christopher Cullis — I was always thankful for their caring and strong support of our community.
Projects too numerous to mention were either directly sponsored or strongly supported by the Cullis family and The Bryan Times. Some of them I was associated with include: the Cage Classic, Academic All Stars, the Bryan Area Foundation, building projects like Imagination Station and Sumpter Field, and many, many school levies and building projects. And, there were the fun events like the cooking shows and all the Army Field bands The Times brought to Bryan.
In retirement, I read The Bryan Times everyday along with other daily newspapers. I buy a newspaper wherever I travel. My conclusion: The Bryan Times is doing an outstanding job of covering the local news compared to other daily newspapers. Much better than many larger cities. But, that won’t continue without additional advertising support.
I implore community leaders who have the power in advertising budgets to step up to the plate and do what is right for all the citizens. Support this vital institution. We don’t want The Bryan Times to be sold to outside interests, or worse yet and even more heartbreaking, we don’t want our local newspaper to close its doors.
Thank you for listening.
Tom Voigt retired Dec. 31, 2012, as general manager of The Bryan Times.