Over the past 25 years, if there has been any truism in media it is that the only thing constant is change. I believe anyone who has been in media for a quarter century is eager to share stories of bygone eras. To the teller, initially, it seems just like yesterday, but when it trips off the tongue, they realize that they are a relic of a bygone age.
- Courtesy Angela Switzer
- Aaron Switzer
This paper got its start in the time of paste-up layouts that were hand cut, glued and photographed. The plates were then driven to the Redmond airport where they were flown to Portland and off loaded to a car that sped to the press. The press shipped the papers back the following morning for distribution. Inevitably, there were quite a few desperate nights in the early days when the production manager drove with all he had to reach the departing aircraft. There was no harder deadline.
Since then, the digital age has been very kind to smaller publications like ours who lacked the resources to afford a press of their own. We were the first publication to go "all digital" as a test subject for the latest printing technology at Signature Graphics in Portland. From there, with the help of advances at Adobe, the process became even simpler, and today, as journalists, we can focus more on the art of the process rather than the amount of glue in the supply closet. It leveled the playing field a bit for smaller markets like ours with fewer resources.
Equally as revolutionary in this age of information has been the advent of digital media: first websites, then social media channels and now the increasing cacophony of video channels that add layer upon layer to the way that people receive their news. All these channels are vying for a reader's attention and begging onlookers to become participants in the process as well. Digital realms have transformed news, and we all find ourselves searching for the implications that this flood of information continues to have on our way of life.
As I have steered a media company through the choppy seas and ocean of information, the one guiding light in the storm of change has been that regardless of the media format, people want honest information about their community, and they want it from an entity they can trust. This trust is built by strong editors. I have had the pleasure to work with several of these professional and committed journalists over the course of this paper's history. They are the reason we are still publishing 25 years later. A good editor is adept at pushing for answers while knowing when to respect the ethical and legal limits of free speech. Oversight, responsibility and control are sorely lacking on social media for want of these professionals. I have been surprised that as a nation we cannot seem to exert the same journalistic standards on social media that we do on newspapers, radio and television. Don't get me started on the fallacy that somehow Facebook or heaven forbid, Nextdoor are telecommunications companies.
As we enter our next quarter century of publishing, I am encouraged by the strong support we receive from new community members as well as decades-long readers. The paper continues to grow its readership and diversify our role in the community, as media must do if it is going to remain relevant. Honoring our commitment to Central Oregon and remaining steadfast in informing and supporting this community, however, will never change.