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Bulletin publisher interviewed for anniversary issue

By John Toth The Bulletin

Happy New Bulletin Year. This is the first edition of another year for us. The paper was first published on July 4, 1994.

Each year I sit down to write another anniversary article, trying to find a new angle that I have not covered in previous years. This is my 30th such article, including the introductory column that ran in the first issue.

I managed to hit on something new, or at least something I don’t remember mentioning before.

I had some practice at this even before we started The Bulletin.

Each year when the Mosquito Festival was getting ready to take place, the features editors at the Houston Chronicle, where I used to work, ordered a story for their section to run on the festival.

After the first few years, we covered just about everything. I spent 12 years at the Chronicle, and I wrote 12 Mosquito Festival preview stories for the paper.

The editors in Houston did not know much about the festival or what they wanted. The only order that came down was, “make it interesting.”

The rest was up to me.

I’m going to do something different this time. Since this is my 30th anniversary article, I decided to interview myself.

Interviewer: What made you decide to leave a very secure and sought-after reporting job for a major newspaper to strike out on your own?

John: I was not alone. I am co-publisher of the paper, along with my wife, Sharon. Why did we risk it? It was a big decision, especially with three small children and a mortgage.

What’s the worst thing that could have happened? We fail, lose a little money and get real jobs again. I grew up in a very unstable environment. I trekked through three countries and learned three languages by the time I turned 12. Our regular readers know what I’m talking about because I have written about it a few times. So, this was a risk, but not really the biggest risk I have taken in my life.

Interviewer: When did you start feeling that the paper would make it?

John: I stayed with the Chronicle for six months after we started publishing. I worked for the Chronicle during the day and on The Bulletin at night. I had the Chronicle’s permission to do it.

But I realized that I could not continue doing both.

I was talked out of quitting twice by my boss. Then I quit the third time, and that was final. Five months later, my former Chronicle editor called and asked if I wanted to come back. I turned her down, because the paper was doing well by then, and entrepreneurship was in my blood.

That’s when I realized that The Bulletin was going to hang around for a while.

Interviewer: What is your favorite story that you have written for the paper?

John: When the Chronicle hired me to cover Brazoria County, I was asked the question: “What is your best article?” I think that was a trick question because after three years of being paid to work as a reporter at three small papers, my best article had yet to be written. That’s what I answered. “I haven’t written it yet.”

I have dozens of stories I have written for The Bulletin that I really like. But the one that is my very favorite has yet to be written.

Interviewer: O.K., then what is your greatest accomplishment at The Bulletin?

John: Our greatest work accomplishment has been that we have printed The Bulletin successfully for all these years. We’re a small operation, but we have deep roots, and we do whatever we can for our readers and the community.

I taught myself computer skills, graphics design and later digital layout. When many other publications were still pasting up the paper the old-fashioned way, we were already digital.

Interviewer: What does the future hold for The Bulletin?

John: To publish weekly and have a good time doing it. We created The Bulletin in 1994, and it has been part of our lives going on three decades. Each day we can do this is a blessing.

We consider ourselves very fortunate that we have been able to make a living publishing a weekly paper. Thank you to our great readers and advertisers for partnering with us all these years.


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