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Happy birthday to The Bulletin

By John Toth

The Bulletin

I wanted to buy a radio station. Sharon, my wife, wanted to start a weekly newspaper. We arrived at a phase of our lives where we were ready for a change, but what type of change?

There was no need for it, only a want. I could have retired from my job as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, covering Brazoria County. Or, maybe covering something else over the years, had I elected to remain with the Chronicle.

I had been at the Chronicle for 12 years, and I could have done it for many more. But I wanted to try something else. Sharon felt the same way. She had been freelancing and taking care of our three children.

It was 1994. We went with Sharon’s plan for a weekly paper. I’m glad we did, since the radio station idea would have been more expensive. And, as it turned out, probably not a good investment.

We started putting all the pieces in place, and on July 4, 1994, we published the first edition of The Bulletin.

I remained at my Chronicle job, doing that during working hours and production on The Bulletin at night - sometimes all night. It was mostly mechanical and labor intensive, more so than computer oriented.

Now, all the production is done with computers and is much less hectic, unless someone accidentally kills out a file. That hasn’t happened since my 4-year-old daughter crashed a floppy drive that contained all our stories for the next week’s paper.

She is now a partner in our company and has learned not to stick pencils in computers.

Six months after we started The Bulletin, it was time to make a decision. Do I jump in full-time or abandon this crazy idea of publishing a weekly. There was no in-between. I was getting almost no sleep. One of the jobs had to go.

I quit the Chronicle. With three kids and a mortgage, I decided to chase my dreams - our dreams. We wanted to try to be totally independent - to be entrepreneurs, publishers.

People thought we were crazy. But we decided that the risk was worth it. If things didn’t work out, we could go back to working at regular jobs.

It has not been all smooth sailing. We’ve had to overcome problems and make changes. The technology around us was changing.

The business has morphed a lot since we started The Bulletin. But we kept up. We embraced the Internet quickly. We switched to digital production early. We changed content and niche over the decades to better suit our environment.

I’m writing all this because this week’s issue is very special. It ends 28 years of publishing for us. We start our 29th year next week.

We have had other businesses, but this is our baby. We started it from scratch and nurtured it. In turn, The Bulletin has taken good care of us.

It was able to do so because of our loyal readers and wonderful advertisers, many of whom have been with us for years. We are so grateful for your support, and we hope that they, in turn, you have profited or benefited from our paper.

Each year of publishing has been a blessing to us. In 1994, we found what we wanted to do, and we’re still doing it.

We want to do it for a very long time, but it’s no secret that we’re not as young as when we started the paper in 1994. Nothing lasts forever.

Eventually, we’ll have to step aside and entrust The Bulletin to Stephanie Gizella, who at age four, stuck a pencil in the floppy drive and said: “Daddy, I fixed it.”


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