Opinion

Creswell at heart of coverage

The big picture: While Harry Holt Park is the center of Creswell’s universe, the entire town is in the middle of the southern Willamette Valley, and a true gateway to Springfield, Cottage Grove and Oregon’s wine country. FILE PHOTO/MIKAI VON ENGEL

Across the country, newspapers are being taken out at the knees by the media conglomerates of this world. A recent merger of Gannett and Gatehouse created the largest newspaper company in the country, with more than 1,000 papers.
Shortly after the buyouts, hometown journalists are axed. Production is shipped off to another state. Businesses lose an essential means of local promotion. The city’s narrative is lost. The community’s voice is stifled.
Then, it turns into a whisper.
What’s left is a skeleton of a newspaper, strung together carelessly by syndicated content and newswire bylines – a rag one would prefer not to use even in a birdcage.
”Local” is the lifeblood of journalism; when extracted, everyone loses. We see it happening all around us. The community suffers because their struggles, successes and all the in-betweens go undocumented. Advertisers leave because there is no content on the pages to keep readers engaged.
How disorienting it must be to have no means of knowing what is happening directly around you. That’s a tough pill to take – both from a journalistic and a community perspective.
Good thing none of us have to swallow that pill.
The methods of the mass media-holding companies are for the birds; The Chronicle is running in the opposite direction, and having a helluva time doing it.
In the past six months, The Chronicle has undergone a whirlwind of changes, always with the intention to better serve our readers.
The Chronicle newsroom has been renovated to attract local passersby and equipment has been modernized to produce work more efficiently. Our staff has more than doubled with people who actually live in, interact with, and care about the communities they serve.
But in order to demonstrate effective journalism, in order for advertisers to thrive, the paper needs to be seen by more eyes – an effective method for these intrinsically linked communities.
Think about it. We’re all connected – Creswell, Cottage Grove, Springfield.
There is value in building a strong network of neighboring communities that we all interact with in some way or another; whether it be for work, visiting friends and family, shopping or recreating, there is no doubt that Creswell is part of an interconnected regional economy.
Only about 20% of people who work in Creswell also live in the city; fewer people both live and work in Creswell than commute into or out of the city.
Data from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau (2015) shows that 16% of the workforce population living in Creswell works in Springfield; meanwhile, 9% of people working in Creswell commute from Springfield, and those numbers are expected to become higher.
Commuting plays an important role in Creswell’s economy, because employees in Creswell are able to access work from people living in the city, and in the broader Willamette Valley.
As the aphorism goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.
How cool is it that these stories about local people, businesses, events and opportunities are now being seen by three times as many readers?
How great is it that we can now give exposure to the Creswell Wellness Center to readers in Springfield, or Cornbread Cafe to readers in Cottage Grove?
Rest assured, Creswell is not losing its hometown newspaper; we are growing so that we can better serve our readers. This week, we start our journey branching out into Springfield, but Creswell is not losing its hometown newspaper. We give, we get, we give, but we will never take away from our heartbeat.

Erin Tierney is the Executive Editor of The Chronicle.