Home Special Sections The Press 40th Anniversary Pioneer celebrates 55 years defending your right to know
Pioneer celebrates 55 years defending your right to know

In 1957, Harold K. Douthit built the first web-offset printing plant west of New York and the third such plant in the nation. This new printing process revolutionized the print industry. It provided a cleaner look and mass use of color and photography at a more reasonable cost.

One of Douthit’s first clients was Bob Levee, a corporate manager for Owens Corning Fiberglas and a Genoa resident. Levee had a dream in 1958 that he could publish a newspaper to connect the communities he felt were neglected by daily newspapers located in Toledo, Bowling Green, Fremont and Port Clinton. He called the area located between these four county seats “no-man’s land.” Levee’s paper didn’t make it through year one due to a poor economy. But, in 1972, 40 years ago this month, the owners of five Super Dollar grocery stores convinced Douthit to start a weekly newspaper which he named The Suburban Press. Douthit dedicated that first issue to Bob Levee.

Top:Harold K. Douthit(R) and Ed Pivcevich(L) in-
spect a copy of a newspapers typeset with the
revolutionary offset-printing process. (circa 1957).
Bottom left: Hal Douthit, Bottom right: Ken Douthit. 

Today, Douthit Communications (DCI) publishes nine weekly newspapers, most of them in the Cleveland suburbs, and three Homes Illustrated magazines located in Colorado. The publications are supported by a printing plant in Sandusky, which also does commercial printing.

Fifty-five years ago, Douthit foresaw how technology would affect publishing. He bet his career on it and as suburban communities grew and merchants followed, he found himself printing flyers for major department stores fleeing to the suburbs. In Northwest Ohio, they included Lamson’s, Sears and LaSalle’s. When the Woodville Mall opened, Douthit printed its flyers. Efficiency, flexibility and low cost attracted these clients and, over the years, DCI has continued to invest in new technology. Today, everything is done by computers and pages are sent electronically to the plant.

Douthit’s dedication to technology didn’t stop with newspapers. He championed his company to develop ad writing software for the real estate industry. This software writes creative and informative ads from information supplied by the Multiple Listing Service. By pushing a button, a real estate agent can change size and copy, thus saving time. Some of the largest real estate companies  and newspapers in the nation use the program to reduce composition costs and shorten deadlines.

Hal Douthit has affected your lives through both this newspaper and his vigilance for your right to see public records. He is a founder and former chairman of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government, which has fought to pass in our state some of the nation’s most comprehensive open records laws. The Press has twice been sued following efforts to bring you public information. DCI has spent thousands of dollars on your behalf defending these suits in an effort to remind public officials that they work for you.

Ken Douthit, current president of DCI, has continued his father’s fight to assure your right to access public records. He is a board member of the Ohio Newspaper Association and he has worked for years to pressure state government to allow legal notices to be published in free newspapers like The Press. That dream was realized late last year and now free community newspapers can publish legal notices.

Hal Douthit’s vision of binding our communities together with a community newspaper has been reality for 40 years. He expressed this vision in these words written some years ago, “I had hoped then…that the area would be receptive, would give me a chance to be its mirror, to give it a voice, to let me record its triumphs, to applaud its good citizens and call to account its cheaters, to measure its progress, print its letters, be its marketplace, share its concerns, lick its wounds and help transmit its values from father and mother to son and daughter.”

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