Tierney

It’s been about five months since The Chronicle moved its newsroom to Springfield. Nearly every week since, I’ve been asked the same question: “How’s it going since you moved out of Creswell?” 

The tone and manner in which this question is raised is never lost on me. It’s either presented with a hairy, suspicious eye or fielded in a sincere and hopeful tone. Whichever way it’s been asked, I’ve always had the same answer: we’ve been doing what we need to in order to survive.

After a brutal two years of barely keeping the wolf at the door, we can safely say – within recent weeks – that we’ve made it out alive. Up until then, each week, we didn’t know if we would make it to the next edition. 

But we did. The strategic decisions we made, albeit painful, have helped us keep going.

The move from our Creswell office was one of those tough calls, never taken lightly and always felt deeply. We knew there would be perceptions of us bailing on Creswell. We knew people would habor a sense of abandonment as soon as the lights turned off at 34 W. Oregon Ave. 

We also knew that most people would understand our choices, offer us some grace, and trust in our intentions. 

The answer to “how’s it going?” must also address “how’s it been.”

It’s been heavy. It’s been arduous. It’s been tiring. It’s been one hard decision after another.

From the cobwebbed ceilings propped up by towering concrete walls, a flickering overhead light would cast onto an open floor plan, illuminating the clutter of empty office chairs during our final months in the Creswell office. The more time we clocked in the pandemic, the more the space grew hollow. Stay-at-home orders plucked staff from our once-busy, buzzing environment, and as conditions began to shift, we couldn’t afford to keep our growing, robust, and talented team.

While we managed to keep a handful of committed, skilled part-time contributors, we were reduced to a single full-time employee - me. I combed back my hair, strategically bobby-pinning in all the hats I was wearing – as editor, reporter, designer, and subscription handler.

Noel Nash, our publisher, aside from managing the business, took on any role that wasn’t filled – graphic designer, page designer, advertising rep, reporter, life coach, and morale booster. His wife and co-owner, Dee Dee, tackled invoices, distributed papers, sold ads, took photos and kept us well-fed.

Noel and Dee Dee had owned the newspaper for less than a year before the pandemic hit. Imagine the heartbreak in that – for us to see our prospects narrow before we even had a chance to fully implement our vision. 

Still, we all did what we had to do, because even in the hardest of times, we loved what we were doing.

But our situation grew more bleak. If something didn’t give, we’d have to close up. The best chance we had to cover any of our communities, including Creswell, was to reduce and consolidate costs. 

The move to Springfield was our best chance of continuing to work toward our shared vision to deliver credible, hyper-local news and information. It’s allowed us to reset, re-evaluate, and engage with more of our coverage area. 

CHRONICLE PHOTO - The Chronicle's new office is at the corner of A and 7th Streets downtown Springfield, on the same intersection as the iconic Buick Motors building.

The office space itself is much more conducive to our needs, granting us office rooms for privacy and productivity, a newsroom station, a front desk clerk space, and a conference room for team meetings. 

Walls accented with a comforting emerald green, front pages, magazine covers and awards now hang from the Springfield newsroom walls – from Creswell Fourth of July special sections, to punk rock chef Scott Pisani on the cover of our most recent Creswell Chamber of Commerce newcomers and visitors guide, to certificates of appreciation from the Creswell Food Pantry and the Creswell VFW. 

Our home post office remains in Creswell, from where all editions of the paper are mailed.

We’ve never taken The Chronicle out of Creswell; we’ve only made room for our neighbors in Cottage Grove and Springfield. 

Out of the gate, well before the pandemic, we made clear our intention to expand our coverage to include Cottage Grove, Springfield and Pleasant Hill communities.

While each city has its own unique identity, we found in our conversations, reporting, and daily lives that these communities are intrinsically linked in one way or another. People in Creswell work in Springfield. People in Cottage Grove have family in Creswell. People in Springfield grew up in Creswell … whatever the connection may be, each community has a curiosity and connection for one another. 

And all of them deserve to have a local newspaper. 

We’ve been a fraction of what we’ve dreamed for The Chronicle, but those dreams never waivered. Behind the scenes we’ve been digging the trenches, waiting for the rain to come. 

What’s that? A raindrop?

This week’s edition is the first one in over a year that The Chronicle is back up to 20 pages, after having been reduced to 12 pages back in December 2020. 

This week’s edition also features a brand new “Things to Do” section, a two-page spread of events, meetings and activity going on across the southern Willamette Valley. It was designed by our new graphics designer, Spencer Williams. 

That’s right, we’ve been making hires.

We’ve recently welcomed Jessica Lemmon to the team, who oversees our social media, marketing, and various sales initiatives. And when you call The Chronicle to renew your subscription, you’ll be greeted by Creswell’s friendly “mobile notary,” and Chronicle office manager, Dana Ufford.

Next week, we’ll welcome Ryleigh Norgrove, a full-time reporter who will focus on covering Cottage Grove and Creswell. You’ll find her most days working out of the Bank Building in Cottage Grove. The Chronicle has rented out office space in the historic Main Street building, which has been renovated for shared community work spaces. We hope to do the same in Creswell soon, when the opportunity arises. 

So, “how’s it been?,” you ask?  

You might want to come and see for yourself – at our ribbon-cutting event on Thursday, April 7 at the Cottage Grove Bank Building. If that doesn’t work, maybe we can catch you … at our other ribbon cutting at 3:30 p.m. at the Springfield newsroom, 655 A St. 

Optimism is high. We are getting back on track. And we’re just getting started. 

Erin Tierney is the executive editor of The Chronicle.