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Editor Schmeditor: The Herald/Pioneer suffers layoffs and the prospect of a combination paper is realized

Today is an emotional day for me. I don't know about you, in the midst of this unprecedented virus-induced crap show, but the effects of all this is starting to drag me down a bit – and people who know me know I'm rarely down.

But the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic have wrought continue to batter away at the heart of what we do here at the Canby Herald and Molalla Pioneer. However, know this - we may be down, but we are not in any way, shape or form OUT. The rumors of our demise are premature and irresponsible. Anyone floating that idea around is gravely and ignorantly mistaken. And you know who you and your microphone are. Bury us, I dare you.

Most folks will never know how hard this job is and the special quality of the people who try to do it honestly and with integrity – even when that honesty and integrity is questioned by those who possess far less of it.

And to do that job, and to suffer those ignorant indignities while being repeatedly asked to do more with less becomes a strain. And sometimes that strain snaps the line and unfortunate things happen.

The Canby Herald and Molalla Pioneer

And that's what happened Thursday as the latest in a quick and nimble list of contingencies that have rocked our little newspaper world was implemented. Sports Editor Derek Wiley and Reporter Carol Rosen were laid off yesterday and my heart is heavy because of it.

These were good people who did good work in often impossible situations. They fought through the tough times and continued to care about the communities they were engaged in – and so often were left unappreciated. As journalists, you get used to people not "getting it," but as they walk out the door, and I consider the prospect of never seeing them again, I'm torn between anger and lingering despair. Good people shouldn't have bad things happen to them. And yet, as many of you know, in this current climate that's exactly what's happening.

Carol was a longtime reporter who offered a wise counsel on many things we discussed in the newsroom. She had a great sense of humor and came at issues with a professionalism that was not only enjoyable, but tinged with a sense of humor. She often saw people's agendas for what they were and we had many a good laugh about people taking themselves far more seriously than they should have.

She was a professional woman with a great heart and a delightful sense of humor, particularly when we were teasing her about her age.

I shall miss Carol very much.

As for Derek, it's hard to clearly spell out what a tough job he had and how well he did it. Covering sports for three different community papers (Canby, Molalla and Wilsonville) is not walk in the park and certainly comes with plenty of pitfalls – both real and (from the public's standpoint) imagined.

But Derek did it all with a positive attitude and a determined professionalism that was so impressive to witness. When he'd read down his list of what he was going to each week, I was always so impressed with how much he was willing to give of himself.

I shall miss Derek tremendously.

And with that, it is just Kristen Wohlers and myself trying to hold down two forts. Hopefully, time allows us to restock the reporter shelves, but for now - just us.

But that ain't all, folks. Beginning with the issue of April 8, you'll notice something else – one paper serving four communities. That's right, for the foreseeable future until things turn around economically, the Canby Herald, Molalla Pioneer, Woodburn Independent and Newberg Graphic will contribute stories to one print product. It will have a new name, our logos, and be a compilation of stories from those four communities – and include virtually no sports. Check our websites for other stories because they won't all go in the print product.

Printing costs are prohibitive at this point and this is one way to help try to keep these community papers alive long enough for things to revive. The alternative is a little more depressing. So, when you pick up this "strange looking" paper, just know that that is what you are seeing – a combination of four papers.

If and when revenues come back, the papers will start to split off into their individual entities once again – at least that's the plan. So there you have it, the new reality of our community newspaper worlds for the next month or so. Not a very pretty picture in the short-term, but necessary to make sure these papers survive long-term.

But knowing the hopeful outcome down the road doesn't lessen the here and now. My heart is heavy and my mind filled with unpleasant thoughts. Some of you know exactly how that feels, don't you? Stay safe, my friends.

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