The importance of the local newspaper

Reading the newspaper every day was an instrumental part of my childhood.

As early as the age of five, I was wrestling my dad for the sports section every morning. I wasn’t allowed to stay up late and watch SportsCenter and we didn’t have internet access when I was young, so reading the paper was my main source for information for one of my biggest passions. 

My grandma lived in St. Louis during the epic home run chase of 1998 between Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs — a friendly competition that fascinated the country. She sent me numerous newspaper clippings from different publications highlighting when McGwire broke Roger Maris’s home record with his 62nd blast of the season just over the left field wall at Busch Stadium.

As a youngster, I started to save old newspapers in my room that featured my favorite moments from Oregon football and basketball seasons, such as the Ducks run to the Elite 8 in 2002, and their massive upset over #3 Michigan at Autzen Stadium in 2003 — which is still the greatest game I’ve ever attended. 

I began to make Oregon-themed newspaper collages that featured my childhood heroes, such as, Joey Harrington, Keenan Howry, Luke Ridnour and Freddie Jones.  

While newspapers became less and less important to the people around me, they always held significance in my life. Even in high school, the first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning was read the newspaper. As a high school athlete, my heart always swelled whenever I saw my name in the paper. I love that I have been able to provide young athletes with that same feeling as a reporter for the last eight years.

Even though I was only writing for the Chemeketa Courier in 2012, seeing by byline every week was a surreal experience early on. The feeling increased dramatically five years later when I was working for Pamplin Media Group as a high school sports editor and when I saw my byline in the Portland Tribune after covering an NBA game.  

That surreal feeling came back a few months ago, but for a completely different reason.

I was heartbroken when I found out that my former colleagues at Pamplin were let go due to the coronavirus back in April. Guys that mentored me and helped me along the way were without a job in the blink of an eye.

When 2020 began, it was safe to say that local news publications were far from a thriving industry. Now we have been reminded just how fragile local newspapers have become thanks to the spread of COVID-19.

What was once a staple of American society has now become a product that many people feel that they can do without. 

What makes local newspapers like the Keizertimes so unique is that it’s all about Keizer. When I was growing up in Salem, I always viewed Salem as a part of Keizer. I went to Salem-Keizer Public Schools and I rooted for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. To me, Keizer felt like it was just a different section of Salem.

It wasn’t until I started working in Keizer in December of 2018 when I realized how much Keizer is its own entity and how the publication I was working for was solely dedicated on covering the seven square miles of this great town. 

Other publications may cover a Keizer event or story on slim occasion, but only the Keizertimes covers this town on an exclusive basis. 

Local newspapers are not only important, they are crucial.