I'm back and it's thanks to you
For the past seven weeks, I was — like many Americans — stuck at home and unemployed. Due to the financial challenges surrounding COVID-19, Pamplin Media Group was forced to lay off a sizeable group of reporters and staffers in its newsrooms throughout the region. I was among those.
I knew about the tenuous nature of the journalism industry when I got into it. Financial challenges were not new. But nothing could have prepared me or my colleagues for a global pandemic that wrapped its tendrils around the newspapers we were proud to work for. A slew of talented reporters, editors and newsroom staffers were left hanging by this crisis, searching for a new job in a time of rapid economic contraction.
I was one of the lucky ones. After almost two months out of a job, with prospects of a new one not looking great, I received a call from Graphic publisher Al Herriges. He said the paper was interested in hiring me back and I jumped on the opportunity.
Monday, May 18, was my first day back in the newsroom. More than just a chance to get out of the house, it was a relief to get back to the business of journalism that I've grown to love. Serving the communities of Newberg, Dundee and St. Paul has been the most rewarding experience of my young career, and I missed it greatly during my time away from it all.
It couldn't have happened without your help. In partnership with the Local Media Alliance, Pamplin Media Group started its "Local News Fund" aimed at raising money to restore some of the vital services our papers provide. It is because of this fund — which has raised more than $20,000 companywide as of mid-May — that I am able to return to work.
Communities large and small need journalism now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic is testing our institutions at the federal, state and local levels and it's the job of journalists to hold those institutions accountable and keep the public informed during an uncertain time. Local businesses are struggling to stay afloat and daily life as we know it has been turned upside down. Journalism is the first draft of history and this is a historic moment that demands thorough coverage.
I want as many of my Pamplin colleagues as possible to return to their jobs and keep serving their communities. With the challenges facing our industry, that won't happen without your continued support. That means subscribing to your local paper, but it also means purchasing advertisements for your business or donating to the Local News Fund if you have a few extra bucks. Small donations add up to big changes for our company if enough folks recognize the importance of local news.
Let me be clear: You need us and we need you. Think of journalists as your friends and neighbors and lend a helping hand during this difficult time. Your community will be better for it in the long run.
Local News Fund: givebutter.com/newberggraphic
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.