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Ridin' the Rapids

Yikes, more bad news from the news business.

There have been added concerns about the viability of Oregon’s weekly newspapers recently, with the worst being the announcement by the Eugene Weekly that it had laid off its staff and couldn’t afford to print another edition. The problems came about, they explained, after an employee had not only failed to make payments to the staff’s retirement accounts but had run up $70,00 in billings to the webpress owner that printed them. Even worse news - according to the Associated Press - the total hit might approach $200,000.

However, some good is moving toward balancing out part of the bad in that so far, direct donations and fundraisers have generated around half the estimated losses. No date when a print edition might appear again hasn’t been announced yet but it could happen within a month.

Next door in the metro area things are also tough for The Chronicle (which has expanded from Creswell to cover Springfield as well). It has been running full-page ads asking people to help save the newspaper by making direct donations to the non-profit “Chronicle Foundation.” The donated money would be tax-deductible and targeted at paying for The Chronicle’s coverage of education and nonprofit organizations. No dollar amounts were posted about how much is needed and if there are other ways to bolter basic operations.

Luckily, I can report that the financial situation on the River is much better, thanks to the successful switch from printing and mailing McKenzie River Reflections to digital delivery. Soon after doing that I started to search around to see if other publications were going down a similar path.

I haven’t found one yet but did come across 475+ digital news outlets that belong to the Local Independent Online News group, with members throughout the U.S and Canada. The group is focused on not only supporting each other but also aims to help news organizations stay sustainable.

Over the last year, I’ve been corresponding with a couple of other digital publishers, sharing ideas about what has and hasn’t worked.

The methods River Reflections has adopted aren’t just something I believe in. This week LION Publishers informed me that they and Google LLC have approved a $20,000 grant to “support operations as an independent news business, to be used at the recipient’s discretion to strengthen its operational resilience.”

News I’d say, doesn’t get much better than that.


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