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FROM THE EDITOR: This month's solar eclipse, and the 'new look' of THEBEE's front page starting in July

This month's "From the Editor" is actually from two other people in Community Newspapers and Pamplin Media, the parent company of THE BEE.

First, a report from Jennifer Anderson of our sister area-wide newspaper, the Portland Tribune, on the total solar eclipse on Monday morning, August 21, which is expected to draw a million visitors to Oregon to experience "totality" in the narrow strip that includes Salem and Corvallis, extending eastward through Eastern Oregon in its journey across the country. Here's Jennifer:

SOLAR ECLIPSE REPORT

Jim Todd of OMSI is more than a little excited for Oregon's total solar eclipse. He's been looking forward to it since 1979, when he was a senior in high school in Goldendale, Washington, and a total solar eclipse crossed over much of the Pacific Northwest.

"I've had that date in my mind since then, honestly," says Todd, who is now the Director of Space Science Education at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – better known as OMSI – on S.E. Water Street, on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Ross Island Bridge, and under the east end of the Marquam Bridge.

Professionally, he and his team at OMSI began planning for the eclipse three years ago, as the astronomy community – and then the general public – started buzzing about this rare solar phenomenon, which happens two to three times per year, but is only rarely visible in the U.S.

The "path of totality" will be 62 miles wide, starting when it touches land between Lincoln City and Newport on the Oregon coast, stretching southeastward to communities including Salem, Corvallis, Albany, Madras, John Day and Ontario before continuing its path across the U.S. toward South Carolina.

It's the first time the fleeting but spectacular event has touched the U.S. mainland since 1979, and the first to span our entire continent since 1918.

During the two minutes of totality – between 10:15 a.m. and 10:27 a.m., depending upon where you are in Oregon – we'll see what's called the corona, the atmosphere of the sun, extending outward from behind the eclipsed sun. "It's an absolute spectacle!" Todd exclaims. "You'll have a glow. The only time you can see that is when the sun is blocked."

People in that path of totality in Oregon will see it during just two minutes of total darkness before it sweeps southeast, traveling almost 3,000 miles per hour and crossing the state of Oregon in just nine minutes.

In 90 minutes, it will cross the entire U.S., from the West Coast to East Coast. "It's the length of a movie," Todd says. "I don't recommend anyone go watch a movie during the eclipse. They'll miss the whole thing."

One million people are expected to come to Oregon for the event, since it's poised for the best weather and viewing conditions – and they'll all try to be in the narrow strip of totality, south of Portland. Traffic experts have predicted that the monumental traffic jam on Interstate 5, Highway 99, and other major and minor roads in the path of totality, will resemble a day when both OSU and U of O are playing critical home football games at the same time, multiplied by ten. If you think you can just get up on Monday morning, August 21, and spend an hour motoring down I-5 to get a glimpse of it, you may not get there in time. And you are warned it is illegal and dangerous to pull over on the freeway and get out if you are still stuck in traffic when it happens. It is also very dangerous to look straight at it without special protective eyewear; more about that in a moment.

Over the course of the past two years, hotels, campgrounds and events in the path of totality have largely sold out, with international travelers, astronomy geeks and curiosity seekers driving the traffic.

The Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, which Todd is spearheading for OMSI in Salem, sold out quickly with 8,000 attendees. The best thing to do now? Watch it from Portland, where you will still have 99 percent darkness. A good place to do that is at OMSI's Front Plaza, where the viewing party will extend from 8 a.m. to noon. Refreshments will be available from the "Empirical Café".

In Portland, the sky won't fall pitch black, but it will drop to what feels like an overcast day, with a small glow of blue sky at the top where the moon's silhouette almost completely covers the sun.

You will still need to wear solar eclipse viewing glasses, certified by the ISO or CE. "Never take those glasses off for a partial (eclipse) ever," Todd warns. "That 1 percent can still permanently damage your eyes." You can buy eclipse viewing glasses at OMSI's Science Store, right up to the morning itself.

You may also be able to see Venus during the partial eclipse in Portland; Venus, Mars, and Mercury will be visible for total eclipse viewers down the valley.

"Oregon is not going to have ever seen anything like this before," promises Todd, who's been at OMSI for 33 years.

And, once you recover from this year's eclipse, you can start planning for Oregon's "annular" eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023. That's when a disc of the moon will be smaller than the sun, meaning that at what would otherwise have been totality, the sun will appear as a ring of fire in the sky. As if that couldn't get any more spectacular, the center line will be over Crater Lake. "It's not totality," Todd concedes, "but it's still an amazing eclipse."

For more about the upcoming eclipse on August 12, and a map of the area which will see "totality", go online: www.greatamericaneclipse.com/oregon -- and to focus more specifically on the mid-Valley: www.SalemAreaEclipse.info

An online source for certified eclipse glasses: www.eclipseglasses.com

_______________________

Thanks to Jennifer Anderson of the Tribune for that report. And now, here is the President and Publisher of our parent company, Community Newspapers and Pamplin Media, Mark Garber, with an explanation of the new BEE "masthead" at the top of page 1, which began last month. Here's Mark:

NEW LOOK HONORS PAST, EMBRACES FUTURE

Observant readers of this newspaper may have noticed an unfamiliar red flash atop THE BEE's front page, starting in July.

I'm referring to THE BEE's "masthead" or "flag", and its new look. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, it seemed time for the Pamplin Media Group's newspapers to update their "flags", most of which date back a decade or two. These changes in print complement the upgrades made to all Pamplin Media newspaper websites in early July.

As part of this process, in both print and online, we wanted our redesign to convey the core strengths of our media group: Local ownership, local focus, and strength in numbers.

All these factors contribute to the ongoing stability of our newspapers and websites – a stability that's quite rare in today's media environment.

Without the local ownership of Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr., our media group would not have the advantage of local decision-making about staffing, facilities, and long-range planning. Oregonians have become all too familiar with the disheartening decline in quality that results when a newspaper cedes control to out-of-state owners.

Because local ownership is key to our current and future success, we're making it an integral part of our brand, in the same way that the late tire magnate Les Schwab, and Bob Moore of Bob's Red Mill, are so closely identified with their iconic businesses.

That's why you will continue to see the owner's image on the front page — it's a reminder that Pamplin Media Group is a trusted source of local news and advertising, that's here for the long term.

Although we are moving toward a more consistent look across all 25 of our newspapers, the Pamplin Media Group's focus on local news remains the cornerstone of our business. No other media in town – no newspaper, TV station, or website – puts as many resources into covering every community in the metro area.

The Pamplin group has news and sports reporters, photographers, and editors on the ground in each of those communities. Without that fiercely local focus, we'd be just like all the other media in town, chasing the few big stories of the day while ignoring what makes each community unique.

The journalism we produce makes a difference in people's lives.

Each of our two-dozen newspapers has a distinctive voice. Some are more than a century old, such as The Outlook in Gresham, and THE BEE. Others – such as the Portland Tribune, founded in 2001 – are more recent arrivals. It's important, however, for people to recognize the mission of building strong communities through excellent local journalism goes beyond any one paper.

Our ability to operate as a media group allows us to produce more high quality reporting and lets our advertisers reach more potential customers. We want that Pamplin Media Group brand to shine in each community we serve, which is why we are bringing some consistent elements to the new "flags" on all 25 of our front pages. It's just a recognition that our interaction with readers comes in multiple forms now – print, desktop, tablet, mobile, e-mail, social media – and whatever will come next.

The "what's next" is important, because at least one media company needs to be here to continue the vital democratic function that newspapers have performed for centuries. And that brings me back to the flag atop the front page: It has evolved dozens of times for most of our newspapers as tastes and times changed from the late 1800s into the 20th century and now into the 21st. The key is to honor our past while keeping up with the changes, and that's what we are committed to doing.

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