Whenever you are reading this, you can know that it is the worst day of the pandemic for The Chronicle.
That’s an ugly truth for many small business owners, who see each passing day as an extension of the 18-month-long-and-counting pandemic, and its effects on their businesses.
For a news-and-information business such as ours, the extension of the Covid Era continues to strangle multiple revenue streams. Display advertising remains down, largely because of Covid-related issues affecting the dining and entertainment industries; events, festivals, and sports have been canceled or truncated in some manner – participants performing and playing in fits and starts.
It was April 2020 when The Chronicle launched a tax-deductible donation campaign through a third party to help address immediate financial needs related to the onset of Covid. We ended that appeal after one month, grateful for support that totaled more than $3K. What’s changed since then? The financial effects of the pandemic have simply continued even longer.
A second appeal for help seemed inappropriate when so many others were in the same boat.
Still, we’ve taken many steps in the past year and a half to ensure we would survive the challenges, and serve our communities that otherwise wouldn’t have the vitally important coverage a newspaper provides. We’ve tried to optimize the value of our current products. We’ve strategically introduced new products. And we’ve reduced costs where we could; we must now go further in this area. Walking into our 1,200-sq.-foot space now with our reduced staff – mostly working remotely due to Covid and the requirements of a reporting job to be in the field – has left our newsroom an echo chamber. Pre-Covid, it was a beehive of activity, teamwork, and foot traffic. So we’ve made the difficult decision to work out of a single office in Springfield for the time being. It’s no longer financially feasible for us to rent office space, and double up on utilities, internet, sanitation, etc. in both Creswell and Springfield.
Our goal from the first day of ownership was to have offices in Springfield, Creswell and Cottage Grove. That hasn’t changed.
And neither will coverage in the paper.
We will continue to cover your family, friends and neighbors, the news of the day, and a mix of unique-and-differentiating content blended with the utility you need.
While there is plenty of intrigue inside any office, including newsrooms, the stories are “out there.” It’s not about the building you use when typing or editing a story; it’s about being at the city council meetings, following up with those on schools boards, planning committees, and speaking with residents about a proposed gas tax.
I learned from an early age not to over-value wood, hay, and stubble, so to speak. Brick and mortar, as well. Belonging to the community is more about engagement and participation with other residents than with property ownership or rental status.
The building that housed The Miami Herald and The Miami News, where I began my career in the early 1980s, was six stories tall with a wall of windows facing Biscayne Bay, filling newsrooms with incredible views of sunrises, sunsets, tremendous thunderstorms, and sometimes, pink-ringed islands. The Dallas Morning News building featured the “Rock of Truth” on its facade, a nearly three-story tall quote about building news on “the rock of truth …”
Miami islands turned pink by Christo in May 1983. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were artists noted for their large-scale, site-specific environmental installations, often large landmarks and landscape elements wrapped in fabric. Photo: Miami Herald
It was unimaginable at one time that those places could ever move. Today, employees of The Miami Herald work out of a strip-mall far away from its former headquarters, which was purchased by The Genting Group, one of the largest Asian companies in the hotel and casino business. The “Rock of Truth” building in Dallas? Its new owners said they plan to convert it into a boutique hotel.
One of America’s most-gifted writers was a colleague at The Dallas Morning News, and reminisced one day about the nationally acclaimed SportsDay section. It had one of the largest sports staffs in the country and an annual budget to match. This writer was in the newsroom, working at his desk, he recalled, when the legendary executive sports editor and one of the “fathers” of modern sports coverage stopped in his tracks while walking by. “What are you doing in the office?” he asked incredulously. “Buy a ticket, go somewhere and find a great story to write!”
We don’t have those kinds of resources, of course. Neither does Dallas, anymore, for that matter.
In Creswell, we speak with people at the July 4 parade and fireworks show, executive editor Erin Tierney has attended nearly every city council meeting in the past five years – that’s two each month – and we’re at events like Tamara Blum’s memorial last week, supporting the citywide yard sale, promoting nonprofits from the Family Relief Nursery to Creswell’s Food Pantry, and participating in all manner of community events.
In Springfield, residents see us at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day March & Celebration, profiling the small business owners and developers around Main Street’s revitalization, at Lane Transit District and City Council meetings. We’ve been discussing Glenwood development with people like Councilor Steve Moe, whose district includes Glenwood, as well as to the residents in that area.
In Cottage Grove, people see The Chronicle’s presence at a variety of meetings, our active membership in the Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring events and supporting small businesses like the Crackin’ Up Comedy Showcase at Covered Bridge Brewing Group, and publishing voices like Dana Merryday and Don Williams, who capture the history and current events with authenticity.
None of that changes by leaving 34 W. Oregon Ave.
It is sad, for sure, that pandemic-related issues have forced us to do this.
Even sadder, I’ve felt that way about so, so many things the past 18 months.
Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle.