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 Times, Defiance Crescent-News, Zanesville Times-Recorder,Newark Advocate, Detroit Free Press, The Columbus Dispatch, The Toledo Blade, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Findlay Republican Courier, Yuma Sun Times, The 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!
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 Democrat. You can read some of the old newspapers here.