Vance: News about our sports coverage, how you can help
To our readers: I should have done this before the start of the fall high school sports season, but it's time for introductions.
Readers in Lake Oswego and West Linn will likely already be familiar with me — I served as sports editor for the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings from 2016-2020. But for those of you who get your sports news from the Clackamas Review, Oregon City News and Wilsonville Spokesman, I'm probably new.
So, I'd like to introduce myself, tell you what I'm about and share what's different about sports coverage at Pamplin Media Group.
I have worked at newspapers all my professional life — from 1986 until today — and the vast majority of that time, 33 years' worth, has been primarily dedicated to covering high school sports.
Over the course of my career, I have written for almost all of Pamplin Media Group's newspapers. I've written for The Oregonian and most of Oregon's other largest papers. And I've written for newspapers in New York, Florida, Texas, Georgia and several other states, as well as the University of Notre Dame and many other publications.
I have covered literally scores of state championships — the first one a 15-13 loss by the St. Helens football team to Hood River in the AA title game at the old Civic Stadium in 1989 — in every high school sport at sites across Oregon. I have written about Olympic champions, professional athletes and college national champions, and I've covered (both in person and remotely) the Little League World Series.
I have also served as managing editor for Pamplin Media Group newspapers in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, St. Helens and Scappoose, oversaw production of all PMG's company-wide special sections for a year, shepherded five of our papers through pandemic-related transitions and more. But after every one of these detours, I chose to return to — sometimes fought to return to — coverage of high school sports.
I've done that for several reasons. I love the creativity of sports writing. I love the unpredictability and fun of sports photography. I love interviewing and getting to know high school athletes. And I love reporting on and documenting the incredible successes of Oregon's best high school athletes and teams.
Needless to say, I love high school sports, too. When I was a high school athlete, struggling to understand my place in the world after losing my father when I was 11, my sports teams gave me an additional sense of family, coaches who served as father figures and helped me feel like I belonged.
Further, I love high school sports for their purity. In an era when even college athletes are allowed to make money off merchandise and endorsements, high school sports — at least in smaller states such as Oregon — remain almost solely about competition, camaraderie and the pursuit of excellence and state championships.
There's more, too, but for now, let me share what's different about sports coverage at Pamplin Media Group these days. Pre-pandemic, PMG employed 10 people who primarily covered high school sports. Back on April 1 of 2020, with high school sports on the shelf, almost all of those people were laid off, and because of the continuing challenges associated with pandemic shutdowns, very few have been hired back.
Pre-pandemic, PMG paid for 100 hours of sports coverage per week in the Lake Oswego, West Linn, Clackamas, Oregon City and Wilsonville newspapers. Right now, as we work to restore our advertising base — and after that, personnel — we only have 32 hours per week for sports coverage at those papers.
We know that's not enough to properly represent the great athletes at Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, West Linn, Oregon City, Clackamas, Nelson, Wilsonville, La Salle, Putnam, Milwaukie and Gladstone high schools.
Here's where you come in. If you don't already subscribe, please subscribe here — www.savinglocalnews.com. If you already subscribe, please consider upgrading to our all-access pass here — http://bit.ly/2Tw17c2; it allows you to see online news from all 24 of our newspaper coverage areas.
If you're a potential advertiser, please advertise. And if you're already an advertiser, please consider advertising more.
According to PMG vice president J. Brian Monihan, "We are committed to rebuilding our sports coverage, but we need the financial support from our local communities to make this happen."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.