Published July 2, 2019
Celebrating 25 years of publishing
By John Toth / The Bulletin
It feels good to be 25 in Bulletin years.
This issue starts our 26th year of publishing The Bulletin. It is such a very special occasion that I have to dedicate one more column to it.
In the early 1990s, wife Sharon and I started looking at striking out on our own and deliberated which businesses we could handle. We were good at writing, selling and marketing. We knew how to promote a product. All we had to do is find one.
It found us.
Like a stray cat, it showed up on our doorstep, and we adopted it. We fed it with ads and stories that could not be found anywhere else, and we established a following.
Some of the issues that we have retained from the early days look a little amateurish compared to today’s paper, but they got the job done.
The Bulletin was not a hobby or experiment. We had to make enough money to live on it, raise three children, pay for health insurance and, in general, live a good-enough life to make the switch to independence worth it.
A politician who got a little mad in the early days about a story we ran asked me once what the Bulletin’s purpose was.
“What are you trying to do?” he asked. “We already have two daily papers in the area and a bunch of weeklies.”
True, we did. Not anymore, but back in those days, we did.
“We are doing something that they don’t do,” I replied.
One angry office-holder once threw all the papers we put out at the Brazoria County Courthouse in the trash. A county employee came along later and put them all back on the rack.
We didn’t care what the powerful thought of us. We wrote a lot of things they didn’t like.
As far as I was concerned, they were one election from being unemployed if they betrayed the people’s trust.
I even commissioned a weekly cartoon to run against a politician. He lost to a Democrat. That was unheard of down here after 1994.
After a few elections, we settled into a less hammering mode and changed the paper’s outlook. We had to. We started to hammer ourselves out of questionable politicians as the county grew cleaner.
I am very proud of those early years, although few people still remember them. Some of the old- timers do, because they followed us weekly. And some of the politicians from those days still have a bad taste in their mouths because of what we wrote.
But we helped to facilitate a change in the county. And I am really proud of the fact that about as many Democratic political types disliked us as Republican ones. We didn’t care which party. We just wanted a clean government.
I support fiscal conservatism and an honest, efficient government, with a lot of transparency thrown in and people’s concerns addressed. It is that simple.
So, what were we trying to do in the early years? Exactly what we did. And we were very good at it. Readers loved it, and we were having a good time making a difference.
But all’s well that ends well, and we embarked at reinventing The Bulletin. We basically ran out of subject material, to say it nicely. So, we went in another direction.
A current county office-holder whom I also consider a friend remembers the early years and all the issues we jumped into. At an Angleton Chamber function, we somehow got on the subject.
“You don’t come to our meetings anymore,” he remarked.
“When I show up, you know I’m there for a reason, and it’s not a good one,” I said. “As long as I stay away, we’re good.”
While we are a different paper now, the fact that the free press is still around acts as a deterrent. But to be a deterrent, the press has to be financially solvent, which is harder to do nowadays than when we started.
So all of you reading this, send me some money. (Just joking. Do not send money.)
Again, I have no reason to complain.
I have had a good run with The Bulletin and did what very few people in my field can do – practice totally independent journalism.
I stuck my neck out when I had to, rolled the dice and never lost. I wrote what I wanted, and what needed to be written.
I was a crusader when needed and an roundabout columnist when all was going well.
I am eternally thankful for our readers and advertisers who have been with us all these years. None of what we did for 25 great years could have been done without you.
Now we return you to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.
(I look forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at email@example.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.}