EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE The Chronicle's newsroom in Creswell has eight workstations today, double its size from 2019.

Ahhhh. The early 1990s. Everything felt pretty new and exciting as a young journalist, working in the sports department at The Palm Beach Post, and starting a marriage and a family all at the same time. At The Post, we considered ourselves the upstarts, competing with the more-established, larger daily newspapers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. 

We were a little farther away from the pro franchises in Miami – the Dolphins and Heat – and had to work a little harder to cover them better for our community. The Post was the fastest-growing major daily newspaper in America at the time, and we wanted to perform at the highest levels – and be judged the same way. 

Our sports editor, Steve Moore, a man with a deep, booming voice, (I’m still terrified by his, “Noel, got a minute?” invitation to his office), and asked the Associated Press Sports Editors contest committee to judge the smaller-circulation Post in the same category as The Herald and The Sun-Sentinel. When the judging results were announced that year, The Post had equaled or beaten the larger papers in multiple categories. 

That night, at a local drinking establishment, you could hear Moore’s voice over the din: “The Neeewwww Yooorrrrk Tiiiiiimmes! The Bosssston Glllllobe! The Chicaaaaago Tribuuuuune!” The sheer joy and glee was obvious as he listed our award-winning peers. 

That evening wasn’t the product of “winning” awards, really; those are the last sign of the process. The recognition comes after all of the hard work is done: establishing the right culture, putting in the elbow grease, reporting, writing, cultivating sources, etc. The first draft of history has been written; the immediate impact already felt. 

No, the awards are not the thing. They simply might indicate a job well done, and that job is serving the community.

This week, we learned that The Chronicle earned eight awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2019 “Better Newspaper Contest.” When my wife Denise and I purchased the paper in February 2019, the staff we inherited was one of our bigger mysteries. It turns out that not only did we inherit terrific journalists, they were even better people. 

Erin Tierney, our executive editor the past four years, won the Best Writing category for all weekly newspapers in the state. Aliya Hall, who has covered all manner of stories and events and currently authors the Education Station page, took second-place in Best Education Coverage. The quality of our headlines, photo essays and spot news coverage all received recognition from our peers. (You can read all about the contest awards at 

chronicle1909.com.

Awards are, ultimately, a look back. Let’s look forward … 

In 2020, through the pandemic, economic hardships, wildfires and uncertainty regarding work/life/school, The Chronicle has continued to grow and expand. 

In late August, we celebrated the ribbon-cutting of our new office in Springfield, just a block off historic downtown’s Main St. At the same time, we doubled the number of workstations in our Creswell newsroom. 

More important than the physical expansion, we’ve added more talent to the operation. 

Chelsea Greenway, a full-time online student at Oregon State University, joined our team in March 2020, just in time for the start of the pandemic. All she did in her first month was design the Creswell Chamber of Commerce’s Visitors and Newcomers Guide magazine, help re-launch our entire website, and absorb all advertising design duties. She’s made our products demonstrably better, and her collegial, team-first approach has been a morale boost during otherwise difficult times. 

Emma Routley walked into our newsroom in late June, needing only a summer internship to complete her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. On her first day she was asked to take photos of a rally in Springfield. It turned into a dangerous clash of protesters, and she delivered photos and a story that would make any veteran journalist proud. She remains with The Chronicle, contributing as a writer, photographer and idea-generator. 

Emma helps oversee our digital and social strategies on Facebook and Instagram, and is another team player here who is invested in serving our community and fulfilling our hyper-local mission.

Sarah Evans, a mom and entrepreneur with a proven track record in Sales and Marketing, came on board only two weeks ago. While she’s made an immediate impact on the sales front, leveraging her vast network and partnering with clients to help them tell their stories in the weekly paper and our seasonal lifestyle magazine, Emerald Valley Magazine, it’s her relationship-building with her new teammates that stands out. Sarah’s experience and professionalism has served her well as an immediate mentor in our offices. 

She joins Jordan Cora Lampe on our sales force, who moved into her new role in August 2020. 

Locally staffed. Locally owned. Locally reported. Locally designed. Who owns your local paper? In Eugene, it’s the largest newspaper chain in America. In Cottage Grove, its headquarters are in Illinois.

What do the awards really say?

They say we’re successful in our mission to be the best hyper-local news and information source in the community; they say our commitment to education is done at a high level; they say our storytelling is unique and differentiating content. They say, we’re serving you. 

The Chronicle is founded on the belief that, if we want a better world, nation, state and community, we start with the people within arms reach. 

Winning awards? That’s nice.

Serving the community with meaningful hyper-local information? That’s priceless. 

Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle.