Vernon Wise Jr. Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

president and publisher, Butler Eagle

In an age when almost 87 percent of American daily newspapers are corp o r a t e -owned, Vernon Wise Jr. is proud to be in the minority.

The newspaper business runs in Wi s e ’s blood. For the past century and five generations, the Butler Eagle has been under the Wise family name. And since 1968, when Wise Jr. took over for his father as president and publisher, he has been doing everything he can to make sure the newspaper remains ahead of the competition for the next generation.

Staying ahead of business trends is hardly a challenge for Wise — it’s more of a family tradition. More than 30 years ago, the Butler Eagle earned international attention when it became the first newspaper to install a computer terminal in the newsroom.

“The Eagle has pioneered most of the new production technology that now exists in the newspaper industry,” Wise says.

To combat the financial trials that distress the newspaper industry as a whole, he used his economic savvy from his time at Princeton University to found a second company in 1979: Butler Color Press.

“The color press today is much larger than the Butler Eagle,” Wise says. “It is presently installing another new $12 million printing press line. The color press prints millions of newspaper advertising inserts each week for national customers.”

In 2003, Wise transformed his businesses by using the Uniliner, the latest double-width printing press. Again, the Butler Eagle was the first American newspaper to adopt a new technology. Not only did the decision make operations more efficient, but it — once again — put the limelight on the Wise family for being at techn o l o g y ’s cutting edge.

But Wise knows there is more to keeping a community newspaper thriving than just technology, and that is the community itself. The thinking goes something like this: When the community does well, the newspaper does well. So Wise invests in the community. More than $620,000 of Butler Eagle revenue has been donated to such organizations as the county community college and the YMCA in the past 15 years. And Wise has sat on the board of directors for the Butler County chapter of the Salvation Army for 50 years and is also on the board of the Community Development Corporation of Butler C o u n t y.

HOW TO REACH: Butler Eagle, www.butlereagle.com or (800) 842-8098