By DON VOWELL

Merry Christmas, Keizertimes. As a community we are lucky to have such a healthy and civic-minded weekly paper as a vital organ.  Our family has lived in Keizer for a little over 30 years.  By a sort of contented default we’ve slowly learned to believe this is home. And Keizertimes is our hometown newspaper.   

I’m only familiar with Salem and Portland newspapers but if they are representative of how other towns are served by their local papers it only emphasizes how uniquely fortunate we are.

We are trained to believe that shareholder profit is the be-all/end-all of every corporate endeavor.  That is turning the Salem paper into a pale imitation of its former self.  The editorial page now appears only sporadically.  Maybe that matters only to a few, but it is the only means of conversation that includes both the people that produce the paper and those that read it. Editorial statements and opinions also give you some insight into those who have the privilege of choosing what news you get to see each day.

A major portion of column-inches in the Salem paper is given over to USA Today, a Gannett insert. It seems like reliable reporting but also seems like removing the local editors’ choices as to what story might be relevant to local readers.  And the deadline pressure of being printed off-site means local sports stories are historical in nature.

When I moved to Keizer I used to brag to out-of-town family and friends about how wonderful Portland’s major paper was. Compared to Seattle, Spokane, and Alaska dailies I had known it was the best. It is silly to weep over the decline of printed daily newspapers—they must answer to financial reality.  Still, the Portland paper has devolved from banquet to thin gruel. I admire the remaining staff for soldiering on, knowing they are being done in by the American attention span.    

Our most recent presidential campaign is the perfect example of damage done by abandoning printed media as source for news. Many of the people I know and love supported or despised either candidate for reasons unsupported by fact. Newspapers are held accountable for what they print. Facebook is not. Twitter is not. Being buried alive in mud makes it impossible to examine each speck of dirt.

Yet the Keizertimes prospers. My children went to local schools.  We shop at local stores. We are safe in the protection of local services and utilities.  This paper is knowingly assembled by people who live here and like it.  Keizertimes always covers things that are happening in the town where I live, and generously offers space to local citizens to speak up.

So, speak up I shall.  Merry Christmas, Keizertimes and thanks for staying true to the cause.  And a Merry Christmas to all local readers who make it possible.  With your support we can do this again next year.

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)