How sweet it is! Bulletin finishes 16th year of publishing!

By John Toth
The Bulletin

We have two very important events to celebrate in this issue – the birth of the United States 234 years ago, and the birth of The Bulletin 16 years ago.

That’s not to say that The Bulletin equates to the formation of a country, but it is an achievement, considering that we started it on July 4, 1994 with – nothing.

We had a single 386 PC and a lousy 300 dpi printer – that’s it. The rest of it was just the fact that we wanted to start a weekly feature-type areawide publication because we thought there was a niche for one.

We didn’t do any market research, although both Sharon and I had worked in the newspaper market here and elsewhere since 1979, so we had some concept of what type of publication we wanted.
And, we could always change it up along the way, which we have done several times.

We didn’t dwell too much on the fact that most upstart weekly papers fail quickly, or that to make a true go of it, you usually need seed money to carry you for a while.

So, we thought, let’s give it a try and see what happens. Unbeknownst to us, we picked the perfect period to start The Bulletin. The mid-‘90s experienced the cyberspace revolution, the nation’s budget deficit was about to disappear, and there was plenty of money floating around. All we needed was a morsel of it to keep going.

And, both Sharon (my wife and co-owner) and I had sales, communication, and newspaper experience. In college, I edited the campus weekly paper and substituted as city editor on one of my jobs. I also had experience in layout and design and some business background. Sharon has worked at various papers, starting in high school, and also worked as a free-lancer when our two sons, John and Robert (Bobby), were young.

Our daughter was only a year old when we started The Bulletin. Stephanie will be graduating next year from high school.

And, that’s how we got started. Our first edition was dated July 4, 1994.

It’s been a rewarding experience to say the least. We’re a lot wiser, more disciplined and structured than back in those early days. And, we have weathered some storms that set us back a couple of steps.
Nevertheless, here we are, 16 years later, printing the last issue of the publishing year. Next week, we’re starting our 17th year.

This is the longest I have held a job. I worked at the Houston Chronicle for 12 years. Before that, I worked at smaller papers for a year or so each time.

We have also started other businesses since The Bulletin. We own two Stand-Up, Inc. defensive driving classes – one at Brazos Mall in Lake Jackson, which we have run for 13 years, and another in Sugarland, inside TGI Friday’s Restaurant.

But I continue to micromanage the production process of The Bulletin weekly to bring you the best paper we can put out. Even then we tend to make some dumb mistakes sometimes that we hope nobody will notice.

It’s always the editor’s fault, though.

I have to admit, there are some pitfalls to being self-employed. The other day I tried to call in sick, and nobody picked up the phone. So, I left a message. Nothing got done that day.

I’m just kidding. There is no such thing as calling in sick in this business.

It has been truly rewarding to be able to put out an issue of The Bulletin each week for all these years. I am humbled by the great feedback we regularly receive from our readers and advertisers.

I don’t know when I’ll have enough. I’m 54 now, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere for awhile. Hey, I’m merely middle-aged (provided I live to be 108).

I have no plans to retire or do anything other than to bring you a great product each week. The Bulletin has the technology to make the production easier and portable, and I also happen to be a certified geek, so the tech stuff for the most part can be handled in-house.

So, there you have it – a commitment that The Bulletin is going to be around for a long time, in paper form that you can pick up and hold, and turn the pages.

As long as God continues to grow trees, we’ll continue to publish The Bulletin.

john.bulletin@gmail.com