The Bryan Times Shuts Down Printing Operation

the bryan times

According to the WBNO website, the 65-year-old Bryan Times will no longer be printing the newspaper in-house. This end 150 years of a local newspaper being printed in Bryan, Ohio.

This comes as no surprise as small-town newspapers such as The Bryan Times try to adapt to the changes in how local residents get their news. As with TV news, newspapers have an increasingly aging subscriber base. Younger adults no longer turn to the TV or newspaper to get the news.

The Bryan Times made a stab at having a website with blogs and other internet news, hoping to attract those who use the internet to get their news. I doubt anyone at the newspaper would consider the website initiative a rousing success. The Times, like the Defiance Crescent-News, hides most of its news behind a paywall.

While I understand the economics behind such a move, younger adults will just look for some other news site at which to get their news. Having grown up in an age where most everything on the internet is “free,” most younger adults are not willing to pay for online news. Young adults live in a world where they can stream unlimited movies with Netflix or stream unlimited music with Spotify for less than $10.00 a month. In their mind, paying $8.99 for a newspaper they can read in a few minutes is an unnecessary, frivolous cost. They might spend the equivalent amount of money buying ring tones for their smartphone, but young adults increasingly no longer see the value in a printed newspaper.

Even though I am an old man, I no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper. I read the Crescent-News online, and every day I read blogs, news websites, Facebook, and Twitter to get my news fix.  I wistfully lament the passing of printed newspapers, especially those that played such an influential part of my life. Over the years, I  faithfully read The Bryan TimesDefiance Crescent-NewsZanesville Times-Recorder,Newark AdvocateDetroit Free PressThe Columbus DispatchThe Toledo BladeThe Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Findlay Republican CourierYuma Sun TimesThe Arizona Republic, and the Perry County Tribune. And these are just the papers I read regularly when I was living in these communities.  I also read, from time to time, small, local weekly papers, along with the newspaper of whatever community Polly and I were vacationing in. Needless to say, my newspaper reading habits resulted in the death of a lot of trees.

As I looked up the links for the aforementioned newspapers, I noticed that many of the newspapers had been bought out by larger media companies. What were once local, independent newspapers are now owned by media giants such as Gannett.  I suspect the newspaper industry will continue to contract until almost every newspaper is a subsidiary of a Wall Street media giant.  Future historians will write of the days when America lost the voice of a free press.

The Bryan Times remains a family-owned independent newspaper. The Cullis family has owned the paper for many years. Christopher Cullis, the same age as I am, is currently the publisher. Years ago, when I first started writing Community Voice editorials for the Times, Cullis told me that my editorial could be any length, but if I wanted people to read it I should write 800-1,000 words. This proved to be good advice.

Several times, Cullis called me after I submitted an editorial to ask if I really meant to say _________________? In most cases the answer was “No,” and he would suggest a better wording. I appreciate his help in making me a better writer.

Sadly, with the Times moving its printing to Fort Wayne, 18 people will lose their jobs. I suspect some of these employees have worked for The Bryan Times many years. No doubt, their layoff was a difficult action for the Cullis family to take.

In 1946, Grant Brown opened Brownie’s Restaurant in Bryan, right next door to The Bryan Times. It  was Bryan’s first drive-in restaurant. As a teenager, I ate many a hamburger at Brownie’s. For a time, I even had a weekly tab that I paid each payday. Facing competition from the chain fast food restaurants that moved into Bryan in the 1970s, Grant Brown closed  Brownie’s in 1975. The Times bought the building and tore it down to make way for a building expansion.

Will The Bryan Times go the way of Brownie’s Restaurant? I hope not, but I wonder if there is a future for the printed newspaper? It is increasingly cost-prohibitive to print a newspaper, and being unable to significantly raise subscription prices, newspapers cut the one thing they can cut: their employees.

I wish the Cullis family nothing but the best. The Bryan Times is one of the best small town newspapers around. From my Mom’s letters to the editor in the 1960s to my own letters to the editor and Community Voice editorials, The Bryan Times has graciously allowed us to voice our take on the world. I wish them nothing but the best, even if I have my doubts that a prosperous future lies ahead.  Someday, we will realize what we’ve lost as a result of  the decline of American newspapers. For now – hey, did you see what J-Lo and Kim Kardashian did today? OMG!

Note

The Bryan Times was established in 1949. Before that, the local newspaper was called The Bryan Union Free Press, The Bryan Press, and The Bryan DemocratYou can read some of the old newspapers here.

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8 Comments

  1. Becky Wiren

    A year or so ago, the Bryan Times also started mailing all their papers on rural routes. They still have paper carriers in town but I can see that going away at some point. It is cheaper to take the papers to the post office early in the morning and then allow the USPS to mail the papers same day, getting to people’s homes by the afternoon.

    I do get the Bryan Times through my son who delivers papers. My cost is his per paper cost, so the Bryan Times isn’t making any money from me.

    I am currently subscribing to 7 days of the Toledo Blade for $2 a week. I can keep doing this as long as they are willing to keep me as a subscriber. So far, when my subscription gets to the end of the 13 weeks I just tell them I’ll keep it if I can do it for $2 a week. So far, they have allowed me to keep using the special rate.

    Bruce, you are right that print journalism is probably coming to an end. But it is sad.

    Reply
  2. Naum

    I used to read 2-3 (print) newspapers a day. But I haven’t read a print newspaper in years, except, once a few months ago I bought one on a lark, one morning, as I was heading to a cafe for breakfast. The price was higher, and there wasn’t a lot of content there, and most of it was just syndicated fare. Not a good value proposition when at the tap of finger, there is more “news” (and features) than you can possibly read — in fact, my RSS reader (feedly) is packed with 1000s of feeds in which I skim the river of tidings, as I would have to be retired (and not even then) to actually digest all of it.

    I’ve entertained the notion of subscribing to the Arizona Republic in Kindle form, but again, it not a value proposition — $10 a month for a stripped down, text only variant? It seems newspaper lords came to the online game late, and most of them (not all, as a few are thriving, despite the pervasive malaise) do not get the web, still 20+ years after the web opened to the general public.

    Reply
  3. Troy

    Another big contributing factor is classified advertisement is now free and searchable on the internet (craigslist for example). Largely ignored by readers it was the cash cow that newspapers relyed on, but how can they compete with free? With the diminished classifieds comes diminished staff and quality and as you pointed not just young people everyone isn’t going to pay more for a lesser product.
    It reminds me of a story I read as a kid about how the ice man stopped coming with the advent of refrigeration . It is sad that people have to lose their livelyhood in a job they may not have loved, but at least paid the bills.
    (Since you lived in Pontiac for a while you might remember the Oakland Press a.k.a. the Pontiac Press. I stopped that when the rational editor Neil Munroe retired and the new editoral voice was much more socially conservative. It is still around.)

    Reply
  4. mikespeir

    I’d be glad to pay for online news if I could find any news organization that remembers how to write. They all want to tie you up with videos.

    Reply
  5. Angiep

    It is sad to see print newspapers closing up shop. However, I think the larger story lies within Bruce’s comment: ” I suspect the newspaper industry will continue to contract until almost every newspaper is a subsidiary of a Wall Street media giant. Future historians will write of the days when America lost the voice of a free press.” It’s true, as the news becomes more corporate, the flow of information runs the risk of becoming restricted. (Just watch the evening news if you need to see this being played out.) Currently the internet is keeping information available in the public domain, even if it is controversial…hopefully that will continue.

    Reply
  6. Karen the rock whisperer

    My local paper, the San Jose (California) Mercury News, just announced a merger with some other media company. But I don’t take it any more; it is a pale shadow of its former self. Once one of the most decorated papers in the country for actual real journalism, it had to give that up due to declining revenues. I don’t even follow it online any more. The local online news outlets that offer real news are connected with TV stations, and even those have questionable journalism. It’s a very sad state of affairs.

    I try to get my online news from a variety of sources, and avoid the ultra-liberal and ultra-conservative sites. But that is a challenge. We live in an age of much information, but how much of it is accurate? Less, perhaps much less, than we would hope.

    Reply
  7. J.D. Matthews

    I don’t really understand how magazines and newspapers stay alive. I kinda feel the same way about nightly newscasts on the TV after CNN and the 24-hour news cycle became a thing. Really, by the time you see the 11 o’clock news, you’ve heard or seen all the stories. Newspapers? You’re reading news you heard about yesterday. Magazines? Seriously? By the time I get a magazine, the news in it is weeks or a month old!

    But it does make me wonder what innovation will someday make the internet an obsolete dinosaur.

    Reply
  8. Becky Wiren

    I do take the Toledo Blade at a dirt cheap price. Probably because they are desperate for circulation to get more advertisers. My son delivers the Bryan Times so I can get that nearly free. ALSO, I am now taking 5 magazines dirt cheap, as a reward for some thing or another. DIRT CHEAP. But now I find it difficult to stay up with my magazine reading, as I do all kinds of internet reading.

    I do notice that, between the papers and the magazines, that there are interesting articles. Plus those articles tend to have editors and proofreaders, so the overall content is a bit more professional than many if not most internet blogs, websites, articles etc.

    Last night though, I was skimming an article in Time about the US debt. And at the end of the article, after the author spending time to scare everyone about the debt, the author then basically said taxes needed to be cut. SERIOUSLY. So while I will continue to read Time, my respect for it as an institution has dropped down pretty damn far.

    Reply

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