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Saturday
Mar032018

10 Newspapers That Do It Right

I'm proud to have been a part of the yearlong "Focus on Homelessness" initiative that prompted Editor & Publisher magazine to name The Register-Guard one of its "10 Newspapers That Do It Right" for 2018

I'm not big on awards, but I do appreciate the intent of E&P's annual list, which promotes creative work pursuing lasting change, not simply celebrations of great individual work that may lack long-term impact. 

The Focus on Homelessness was borne out of discussions I had with community leaders, businesspeople and readers upon my arrival as publisher of the R-G in July 2016. Each of those groups were overwhelmed by the problem and expressed feelings of "mission fatigue" in trying and failing -- and trying and failing -- to cure to a widespread problem entrenched in a giving community. 

The reality is homelessness is a deeply entrenched and layered communitywide issue. With that in mind, I convinced Jackman Wilson and Ilene Aleshire, the R-G's talented editorial-page editor and associate editor, that we should lead a new yearlong editorial initiative to highlight the challengesand the many positive ongoing efforts and to connect organizations and ultimately identify strategies to spur long-term change.

Wilson and Aleshire produced at least one in-depth homelessness-themed column per week for more than a year with a passion, energy and consistency I haven't often seen in my decades in journalism. Wilson and Aleshire culminated this yearlong challenge with an invigorating standing-room-only community forum that brought together many of the people and organizations who have worked tirelessly -- but often independently -- in pursuit of solutions that require collaboration. 

As I told E&P, “By providing perspective and fostering ongoing conversations around important issues, local news companies are well suited to meet that need, and to serve local advertisers and benefactors who not only want to help fund the work but be a part of those solutions.” 

The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications and The Poynter Institute proclaimed the Focus on Homelessness project a prime example of "solutions journalism," a testament to our efforts to create lasting impact. That opportunity for local media companies to unite their communities around issues of shared interest cannot be understated.

Unfortunately, too many are focused on quarterly earnings or the glory of individual awards that do little to capitalize on opportunities about which customers -- readers and advertisers -- truly value. 

E&P announced the "10 Newspapers That Do It Right" recognition March 1, the day after my tenure as publisher of RG Media ended. GateHouse Media took ownership of RG Media on March 1 and opted to move forward with a new publisher. Change can be good, and I hope that GateHouse invests the same energy in "solutions journalism" that fosters important and lasting changes in community.  

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