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April 4, 2020

3/18/2020 2:18:00 PM
"May-er" retirement be rewarding
22 Years in 'Tremendously Rewarding Profession' Draws to an End next Friday, March 27
Bryce led the news coverage of the Plain Dealer & Sun from his unassuming corner office on East O&M Avenue.
+ click to enlarge
Bryce led the news coverage of the Plain Dealer & Sun from his unassuming corner office on East O&M Avenue.
A group of Girl Scouts met with the editor during their visit to the newspaper office  in 2009. Bryce always loved explaining his job to the younger generation.
+ click to enlarge
A group of Girl Scouts met with the editor during their visit to the newspaper office in 2009. Bryce always loved explaining his job to the younger generation.
Briana Barger

March 26 will be no ordinary paper day at the North Vernon Plain Dealer & Sun. This momentous day will mark the end of an era, for after that newspaper is put to bed, members of our community will no longer see the tall form of our esteemed editor-in-chief Bryce Mayer puttering around local events, camera in hand. The very next day, Friday, March 27 will be Bryce's last day of leading the news gathering team at the local paper.

After 22 years, Mayer is retiring to spend his days with family -his wife Roberta and daughters Taryn and Adrienne, her husband Spencer Hercamp and their son Bryce Tracey - and finally getting around to home projects he's had no time to tackle.

"Well, I'm 66 years old so it's time," said Mayer. "I have a young grandson I need to spend more time with."

Mayer was a natural choice for the editor's job, notes publisher Barbara King, who says hiring this journalist "was one of our wisest decisions ever! He has always had what is best for the community at heart and his dedication to truth unwavering."

There is no doubt that Mayer's tenure at the Plain Dealer & Sun has touched the entire community. The front office wall covered in Hoosier State Press awards attests to his far-reaching accomplishments. The awards range from editorial coverage, photography, column writing, general news stories, and more.

But the award that he is most proud of was one of his Editor's Notebook stories that covered the passing of his close friend, Brian "Booly" McConnell.

"I was so happy when I won that award because he was a good friend, a great guy, and a lot of people in North Vernon knew him. He was just somebody special. And then people stories, like on Booly and other people - it's really what I've enjoyed most about this job."

Another notable award Bryce received during his distinguished career here was for a photograph he snapped during the 2014 Fifth Street fire.

"That was just - wow - that was just a tremendous, tremendous catastrophe," said Mayer. "Like I've always told people, in this job you have to cover the bad news and the good news."

For Mayer, there was never any doubt that he would end up with a career in journalism.

"Actually, " said Mayer, "I first started working here on a part-time basis when I was just a little kid in the early 60's, working with my father, Dick Mayer, who was editor. He would get me and my brother and sisters in here to help."

Dick Mayer was undeniably a huge influence on his son's career and life.

"He taught me a lot about the business," said Mayer, "about how to write stories, how to report stories, how to communicate with people, how to get them to talk to you and how to judge what is newsworthy and appealing to readers."

Mayer also confided that his editorial work was also massively influenced by his father.

"He was adamant about the importance of editorializing and specifically local issues, but also regional, national issues," said Mayer. "I tried to follow his footsteps there - but of course, our focus here has always been on local, local, local."

Years spent covering the ins and outs of a community has had Mayer covering any and all stories, both good, bad - and weird.

"I forget what winter that was," said Mayer, "but we had a cold stretch of weather and one morning we woke up and there was rolls that kind of looked like big toilet paper rolls or big paper towel rolls all over the place, especially in farm fields around."

Another moment that stuck out to Mayer was when he was "ambulance chasing" (following up on information he overheard on the police scanner that is always turned on at the newspaper office).

"Several years ago," said Mayer, "There was a single car accident, it was by the CSL dam and the car was way out, like 30 feet from the road, right out in the middle of nowhere - it was sitting upright, but it was all dinged up like crazy. I think the driver had just purchased it and was joyriding a little bit, but that car was totaled."

With many years of the journalism business under his belt, Mayer is full of advice for those starting out.

"Keep your eyes and ears open," he said. "Listen to everybody, take everything with a grain of salt, check everything out - you can't assume anything. You get a lot of heresy information - sometimes proves to be true, but oftentimes not."

When asked to summarize his career, Mayer had this to say: "It's a tremendously rewarding, and I don't mean financially, but professionally it's a tremendously rewarding profession. You get to impact a community by exposing sometimes wrongdoing or just events that are going on that people are not aware of. And it's so satisfying when you see the finished product on paper."

But his job covering this locality was made much easier by its people and the community.

"Jennings County is a wonderful community," said Mayer. "I've lived here most of my life, I've been involved here all my life, and it just seems like we have more people here, no matter their political differences or other differences, they come together to help others. They all have big hearts and it just shows so many times in so many ways. I'm grateful to have been part of that."

Ironically, Bryce's retirement is overshadowed with a huge national story - the coronavirus and its impact here. Due to this unfortunate coincidence, a reception honoroing his two decades-plus contribution to our community will not be possible. We invite readers to email their wishes and comments to Bryce at bmayer@northvernon.com.


Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020
Article comment by: Rik Sanders

Thank you Bryce for your hard work and ethics in delivering the News of North Vernon to all of us. Though we may not have agreed on some issues, you never waivered on your commitment to the community. May God bless you and your family.

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Article comment by: Benjamin Voiles

Whoever takes over will have some big shoes to fill. My father who used to oversee the publication of about 150 local newspapers says that the Plain Dealer is one of the best he has ever read!
Bryce and I worked together on the Bugle while in high school. I knew Bryce would have a great career as a journalist, but at the time didn't know he would still be in North Vernon. He could have gone anywhere! Also, newspapers and especially small town newspapers are dying out. I feel that is a huge loss, since even the smallest papers try to maintain journalistic standards. I sure hope the Plain Dealer survives for another hundred years or so. Bryce, thanks for your years of great service to our community.
Benjamin Voiles
Lookout Mountain Georgia

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