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Entering a new galaxy

I’ve been at the associate editor’s desk for the Hillsboro Tribune only since March 1, but already it feels like home. That has a lot to do with the team of people I work with. The combined staffs of the News-Times of Forest Grove and the Hillsboro Tribune — headquartered in the same office in downtown Forest Grove — offer a sense of welcoming familiarity.

With its deft blend of seen-it-all veterans and hungry rookies, our 13-person crew reminds me of a championship-caliber football team.

I suppose I fall into the “grizzled veteran” category, because I’ve been in community journalism for almost 20 years. In 1994, I began serving as editor of a weekly newspaper, The Enterprise, in White Salmon, Wash. After 17 good years there, family reasons compelled me to seek employment in the Portland area.

My wife and I own a home in Aloha, and when a reporter’s position came open with the Woodburn Independent, even though it was 33 miles from Aloha I figured it was close enough.

After 20 months in Woodburn, however, the world turned in a fortuitous manner: In January, the Pamplin Media Group bought the Woodburn Independent, and suddenly I was part of a much larger galaxy of newspapers. Overnight, new options opened, as Pamplin owned newspapers in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Sherwood, and other communities much closer to my home in Aloha.

Boldly seizing the moment, I sent an out-of-the-blue email to John Schrag, publisher of the weekly News-Times and the Hillsboro Tribune, which was then coming out every two weeks. To my delight, I received a swift response and struck opportunity gold: John informed me the Hillsboro Tribune was in the process of becoming a weekly paper, and additional staff would be needed.

I’d never met John, but I learned he’d previously served as managing news editor for Willamette Week, and that was reassuring. I figured anyone who could work for a publication as progressive as Willamette Week would have a philosophy on politics, business and life I would be happy with.

Long story shortened: John brought me in to be the Hillsboro Tribune’s associate editor, which went weekly effective March 8. My transition has been rewarding, not only because it’s closer to home but also because I am really enjoying the communities of Forest Grove and Hillsboro. The downtown business districts of both cities offer coffee shops, bookstores, peaceful greenspaces — even places to get your boots fixed!

Further, I appreciate being able to write about the community I live in. My wife works in the Hillsboro area, and my daughter attends high school in the Hillsboro School District. In short, this is the community I am investing in, which forges a deeper connection and interest in the topics I’m writing about.

I have not been covering the Hillsboro community for long, but so far I have been impressed with Hillsboro’s government. Mayor Jerry Willey, City Manager Michael Brown and interim Police Chief Ron Louie, for example, all seem to be solid professionals who truly care about the community they live and work in and are trying hard to make life better for those who live here. That also holds true for state Sen. Bruce Starr and state Rep. Ben Unger. It’s almost stereotypical for many citizens to dismiss politicians as out for themselves, but I have noticed Starr’s and Unger’s willingness to cross party lines to try to address important issues, and as a journalist, I’ve appreciated their responsiveness in answering my questions on various topics.

Ultimately, I’m proud of our product. We have a strong team of editors, reporters and photographers, adeptly and wisely led by our managing editor, Nancy Townsley. And thanks to a cadre of excellent designers, the Hillsboro Tribune is attractive and colorful in its packaging. We hope you enjoy reading it every Friday.

If you want to offer comments or story ideas, or if you’d like to submit a letter, please don’t hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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