Opinion & Editorial

Lookout! Everybody into the pool! 

My wife and I purchased The Chronicle in 2019. Our mission, unchanged to this day, was to build a credible hyper-local news-and-information business that embodied the best practices of ethical journalism and community esprit de corps. 

And to attempt this in communities that had no other coverage – so-called news deserts, which were appearing across the country as corporate media and hedge funds emphasized profits over all else in the journalism industry.

The demise of daily newspapers is well-trod ground, especially for readers of this newspaper. Since 2019 and the pandemic, 100s of small daily and weekly newspapers went out of business, big-paper layoffs were common, and tens of thousands of workers were displaced – careers and lives completely altered in many cases. I’ve decried the loss of these news outlets and the impact on people and places – and particularly the unique responsibilities placed upon our profession to help inform the public and preserve our democratic principles. 

So it is with great enthusiasm this week that we write about Lookout Eugene/Springfield, an online-only news and information business coming to our area.

This is a reason to celebrate.

Consider only a few of the options on the media menu that readers in the southern Willamette Valley – so hungry for legitimate information – have to enjoy: 

•  The Chronicle, a cross-platform weekly newspaper covering Springfield, Creswell, Cottage Grove, and Pleasant Hill. It places an emphasis on Education and Nonprofits coverage, shining a spotlight on those making a difference in our communities. 

The Register-Guard, just like 100s of other mid- and major-daily newspapers across America, is a shell of its former self, a diminished product that inspires a mix of sadness and resentment in many readers. Still, there are excellent journalists who remain and it has interesting and important journalism about all aspects of life in Oregon and our area. The paper provides news from across the country and world. While far from its former glory and ideals, it’s a daily newspaper in Eugene owned by the largest newspaper chain in America. 

• It was uplifting to see the community response and support for the Eugene Weekly. The financial fraud that forced it to miss several weeks of its printed paper was overcome with a tremendous outpouring of donations to help get the paper back on its feet. The value of alternative weeklies – often with reporting, opinion, and storytelling that challenges and provokes – is undeniable. 

The Daily Emerald is one of the best collegiate newspapers in the country. And it’s only one of the printed products produced as part of Emerald Media Group, University of Oregon’s independent student media organization. The Chronicle is a proud partner with the Snowden and Catalyst internship programs there, and has a track record of hiring UO grads well-suited for professional journalism jobs.

•  And now, we have Lookout on the way, a model you can see in practice for Santa Cruz, Calif., at Lookout.co. It promises to cover all of the key stakeholders, issues, and institutions in Eugene and those in Springfield and elsewhere across Lane County. 

Each of these entities has a different business model, and each serves a different – if not sometimes overlapping – audience. 

And that’s all great news for residents, readers, and our communities.

I encourage you to read Ken Doctor’s FAQs about the soon-to-launch online news service here: lookout.co/about-the-launch-of-lookout-eugene-springfield.

In his FAQs, Doctor, a longtime newspaper executive and thought-leader in our industry, wrote: “Our journalism is completely local, nonpartisan and factual. We believe all communities need robust, trustworthy news sources – covering all the “beats” that the best daily newspapers used to.”

Can we get an “Amen”? He gets one from me because we’re on the same page. Credible news and information that helps edify and uplift the communities it serves? Yes, that’s been The Chronicle’s mantra – and please put more of it on all of our plates. 

Hey, maybe there will be two or even three reporters at a city council meeting, a school board session, or a SEDA meeting, or Lane County Commission meetings. Perhaps we’ll get to the point of having Creswell, Cottage Grove, and Springfield city commission meetings covered in person – even when all are on the same night, at the same time. 

All of this is good for our community, good for journalism, and good for our democracy. 

We stand behind The Chronicle’s commitment to hyper-local coverage; it serves a desperately needed niche – telling stories of small business owners, entrepreneurs, nonprofit volunteers, high school sports, local “volunteer government” and public safety, health and wellness, and culture and the arts.

I recall sitting in my managing editor’s office in the early 1990s, and he had many decades of newspapering under his belt. I was the kid sports editor. He would regale me with the stories of working in New York City with 13 daily newspapers and what a crazy, wonderful time that was. 

I’ve worked in competing newspaper markets in Miami, West Palm Beach, Dallas, and, of course, at ESPN. All of those jobs – and the organizations themselves – were better for the competitive environment.

Doctor has deep roots in the area, and has been working to establish partnerships with KLCC, Oregon Public Radio, UO, and other local organizations. For its part, The Chronicle has recently received a grant from the Foundation for Oregon Rural Journalism (FORJ) to partner with KLCC on an education-related project. 

We welcome Ken and his team back to the area with this new venture, and look forward to being part of the media quilt that helps provide all the comfort and security of reliable news and information.

Noel Nash is owner/publisher of The Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected]



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