You don’t have to search very far across the wide media landscape to find evidence newspapers are in trouble. Declining circulation and vanishing advertising all paint a depressing picture for the future.
Across the nation, newspapers are cutting staff and slicing off important elements to their product. In the wake of these disastrous descriptions of newspaper woe the people who matter — readers — are left inside a news blackout. That means the average American in many places today is less informed, less equipped to participate in our democracy than at any other time in our history.
But before we all line up to pay our final respects to newspapers, before we don our mourning clothes and take refuge in the illustrious past of print, we must place things in perspective. Yes, the newspaper industry is in a spiral. But it isn’t dead. It isn’t, despite the hand-wringing of pundits and analysts, on life-support. In fact, there are many places — right here in Oregon — where the bright light of newspapers continues to shine.
The East Oregonian is one such place. That is why I stepped back into this industry after a year-and-a-half working for an electric cooperative. The East Oregonian started in 1875 and there have been approximately 13 editors up until this week when I became No. 14 in the line. I came back because I believe in the power of local newspapers and the importance of local news. I also believe that the East Oregonian is bucking the trend in our industry and, rather than cutting back, we are pushing ahead, eager to embrace the future and continue to provide you, the reader, with the best local news reporting we possibly can.
I don’t believe the end is near for our industry. In fact, I believe the opposite. I believe that good work can, and will, be done. Work that highlights our shared values, expectations and hopes. Work that keeps the public informed and updated on government actions, that showcases the great community we live in and celebrates the achievements of our neighbors.
There is no great secret to producing a great newspaper. It takes hard work. A laser-like focus and a determination to always keep the reader at the forefront of everything we do. The reader — the subscriber in Pendleton or Hermiston and all points in between — is part of a sacred covenant with the newspaper. That pact is reinforced every day with solid news coverage and a willingness to take on tough projects regarding accountability journalism.
I believe the East Oregonian is a good paper that is only going to get better. The staff is excellent, and I am honored that I will be working with such a great crew. I promised myself two years ago when I departed this industry that I would only go back if I found an organization that was already strong and gaining strength. I was lucky. I was granted a great opportunity to be part of this great newspaper. I won’t take that for granted.