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Journalism has come a long way, and this paper is ready to go the extra mile


Back in 1980, when I got the ball rolling on a 30-plus-year career in community journalism, things were simpler in the Fourth Estate.As sports editor of the weekly Newberg Graphic, my only real qualifications were a recent bachelor’s degree in journalism and experience as a varsity cheerleader at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego.

Those credentials were good enough for my boss, who paid me a little over $9,500 that first year to write about local sports and schools. I spent a lot of Friday nights standing on the sidelines at Tiger Stadium watching prep football, and quite a few Monday evenings covering school board meetings.

I’d return to the office on East Hancock Street and type up my notes on a new-fangled contraption called a “personal computer.” We took our own photos, and we used a darkroom in one corner of our building to process the film and select negatives for each week’s news and sports pages.

On Tuesday mornings, my editor and I would stand in front of light tables angled at 45 degrees and proof the copy, X-acto knives at the ready, literally cutting out any misspellings or clunky sentences. Several hours later we’d send our camera-ready pages off to the press in the back of the publisher’s son’s car, and in the morning we’d see a brand-new edition of the Graphic on newsstands around town. It was magic.

It was also a painfully labor-intensive process, quite different from today’s desktop publishing standard, in which all is digitalized, electronic and, in many ways, encased in mystery. Our process now involves multiple databases, dozens of Microsoft Windows folders and a company-wide shared “server” we depend on to help us produce two dozen newspapers covering communities all over the greater Portland area, including Hillsboro.

Yes, things were simpler in the ’80s — long before email, Facebook, Twitter and satellite television created a continuous news cycle that has modern journalists blogging, Tweeting and posting stories on the Web seven days a week. For reporters, photographers and editors, the learning curve has been tremendous over the last three decades. But I wouldn’t want to turn back the clock, because I think the myriad technological advances have made us sharper professionals capable of bringing our reading public fresher, livelier, up-to-the-minute news and photos in ever more aesthetically appealing packages.

In fact, the Hillsboro Tribune you’re holding in your hands or reading online at this moment represents a milestone. We’re now publishing weekly, every Friday, a change from the every-other-week schedule we’d maintained since last August, when the paper debuted as Pamplin Media Group’s 17th community news paper.

Our experienced and intrepid news staff includes Associate Editor Doug Burkhardt, Sports Editor Amanda Miles, photographer Chase Allgood and reporters Jim Redden, Kathy Fuller and Stephanie Haugen. I’m sure you’ll see many of us around town in the weeks and months to come.

In January, our company added six more newspapers to the family, including the one at which my career had its humble beginnings, the Newberg Graphic. Looking back, I owe quite a bit to former publisher Bob McCain, who still lives in Yamhill County, and his wife Donna, who passed away last year. As the paper’s owners, they ran a family-owned, independent operation whose significance I don’t think I completely appreciated at the time. Their efforts contributed greatly to shaping that city and making it what it is today.

I moved on to the Lake Oswego Review in 1984 — and have since covered business, education, city hall and features in West Linn, Sherwood, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Forest Grove and now Hillsboro — but I’ve never forgotten the lessons I learned at the Graphic.

As journalists, we’re watchdogs and wayfarers, intent on capturing the essence of what’s going on in the communities we cover and reflecting it back to our readers. As managing editor of the Hilsboro Tribune, I intend for this paper to do just that. This is a growing, changing community that’s full of color and life, and we look forward to growing and changing with it.

Our staff is eager to bring you this community’s images and stories. We’d like you to help us do that by sending us a note, calling or stopping by our office. The Hillsboro Tribune exists for you, and our door is always open.

Nancy Townsley is managing editor of the Hillsboro Tribune.