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In our opinion: When perception is reality, conjecture is truth

Some readers have developed narratives about newspapers that are far from the truth


Publishing a newspaper these days is no easy task and that job has been made even more onerous as society has become quick to substitute conjecture for fact, supposition for truth and perception for reality.

An example came recently when we received a call from a reader. The woman said she had become disgruntled with the newspaper since its acquisition in January 2013 by the Pamplin Media Group. Specifically, it was the “the lack of local news” that had drawn her ire.Feb. 5 editorial

When we queried what local news had not been covered in the Graphic, she bemoaned the dirth of letters to the editor.

After explaining that letters were part of this opinion page, and not news, we added that short of libelous or inaccurate submissions, all local letters to the editor were published as they came in. Those letters that were libelous or that contained information we knew to be erroneous, were returned to the writer in hopes they would recraft them and return them for publication.

Yet, the woman was convinced that Pamplin Media Group had forbade the papers in the corporation from publishing local letters to the editor. They’ve done nothing of the sort.

Sure, there have been fewer letters to the editor over the past several months, but that can be explained: It’s because people are either less engaged in their community, have found other outlets (Facebook, for example) to make their views known or will write when they feel passionate about something. For example, readers may have noticed lately that we’ve published a number of letters from proponents and opponents of expansion of Riverbend Landfill, a contentious issue that has continued for years. In addition, come campaign season in a few months you will notice plenty of letters in support of one candidate or the other.

Others readers have commented on our Around the Region section, which takes stories and photos from other PMG papers as well as papers that belong to the Northwest News Exchange, and displays them on two pages every week. We think this is a valuable addition to the Newberg Graphic in that these are stories that readers wouldn’t be exposed to in larger media outlets, such as The Oregonian, but are good reads nonetheless.

Unfortunately, some subscribers are convinced that the space devoted to Around the Region could be better spent on local news. We’re not sure what news they speak of, but regardless the truth is that in this economy it will never happen. If Around the Region was not in the paper it would simply mean the issue would include two fewer pages; the newspaper doesn’t have the news staff to fill those pages otherwise.

But comments from readers haven’t all been bad. We’ve heard great things about the reproductions of front pages from Newberg Graphics of the past that run under a history banner.

Readers, at least in Newberg, love history and have been captivated by the dozens of short stories and old-timey advertisements on the history page. We will continue to feature that page prominently in the paper; we’ve got hundreds to choose from as this newspaper has been continually published for more than 125 years.

Readers are a curious bunch. It’s hard to believe, but some readers and a few advertisers still call us wanting to get information in our Saturday edition, of which we stopped production of more than a year ago.

Still, we forge on, committed to informing the people of Newberg, Dundee, St. Paul and eastern Yamhill County about news in their communities. We believe it’s valuable work and regardless of setbacks in the industry since the beginning of the recession, we’re determined to continue that work, despite misperceptions, conjecture and supposition.



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