The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same
Siuslaw News Editorial
June 30, 2022 — Change. Despite its nature, it is a constant in our lives at the Siuslaw News.
We make a plan — for a special section, or the story list for our front-page coverage — and something happens and we adjust. We map out reporters’ schedules, and inevitably there is breaking news. We have learned to go with the flow. We pivot. We adapt.
This week marks the final Saturday edition of the Siuslaw News, as we switch back to once-weekly print publications on Wednesdays. Some of the community may remember the 110 years that the Florence area’s community newspaper was once a week. It wasn’t all that long ago that it changed.
In June, I reached out to past Siuslaw News Editor Bob Serra, who helped guide the paper into the twice-weekly format in July 2000. At that time, the newsroom had four reporters and an editor, and the sales and marketing team was also much bigger.
It was the new millennium and a time for growth. The Siuslaw News staff was winning awards for writing, advertising, graphics and photography. The publication was read by residents and tourists alike.
Then, Siuslaw News publisher and owner Paul Holman decided to take the newspaper’s momentum and channel it into a twice-a-week publication. Coupled with the increase in local advertisers, it made sense at the time.
According to Bob, the staff was able to handle the increase in print volume. It meant more visibility in the community, and the staff was able to adjust — not only meeting the new expectations, but finding more ways to thrive.
And we did. Once News Media Corporation purchased the newspaper, also in 2000, staff continued to work with the community to bring local news to Western Lane County. Things were going well.
Of course, there were changes in staffing. Over the years, some positions didn’t get filled once people left. More tasks moved to computers and needed less staff time. There was more change, but Siuslaw News made it work.
I joined the staff in January 2015. At that time, there were two editors and two reporters. The front office was well staffed. We were all working towards our goal of being this community’s newspaper.
There have been other changes since I’ve been here — most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic that began in March 2020 and still impacts the world today. Like many other local organizations, Siuslaw News struggled to maintain services with a reduced budget.
Publisher Jenna Bartlett found solutions, getting historic support for the newspaper from the region through our COVID-19 Local News Fund. She also initiated the Support Local Together Campaign, which allowed community members to fund the advertising costs for local businesses.
Amidst all the uncertainty, Siuslaw News staff worked around-the-clock to provide the best possible coverage, at times accepting health risks necessary to keep everyone informed. We started a coronavirus resource page at TheSiuslawNews.com and wrote hundreds of articles on local coverage of the pandemic. We contacted businesses and nonprofits on the effects, challenges and opportunities of the pandemic and detailed vaccine availability and resources. We covered the human stories, the connections, the heartbreak, the hope.
The pandemic changed all of us, and the Siuslaw News is no different.
As of last year, when I became editor, the newsroom now has three people: one editor and two reporters.
We worked so hard for the past 12 months to create five to 10 front-page stories, counting both the A and B sections, twice a week. We attended meetings and sports events, webinars and conferences, announcements and festivals, memorials and celebrations. What once was handled by a newsroom staff of five has been managed by a staff of three.
And thus, this change.
In our announcement about it on June 22, Jenna and I talked about the economic realities facing the newspaper industry. This includes the increased costs in raw materials like paper, ink and gas, as well as the higher cost of living.
The change to a weekly newspaper means that Siuslaw News won’t lose any staff. We’ll be able to focus resources on publishing local news on TheSiuslawNews.com and www.facebook.com/SiuslawNews, along with more in-depth coverage in print on Wednesday.
Readers will still be able to read Sports, TV listings, Classifieds and Kid Scoop. We’ll continue to publish special sections like the monthly Center Stage and Midcoast Wave, Business Profile and Senior Living.
It will be an adjustment to work on a new schedule that benefits all of us, but we’ve adapted before. This is just one more change in our 132-year legacy of bringing “news and views that define our community.”
Thank you for the honor of being your newspaper.