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The Future of the Local Newspapers

Slimmer, smaller, sold off and sometimes shutdown–is this the fate of local daily newspapers across the nation?  Eugene’s own newspaper of record joined the overwhelming majority of local dailies when it too was sold into chain ownership this year.  Big changes have followed, but the newspaper continues to be printed on paper and delivered to homes seven days a week.

Chain ownership offers many advantages for those who would keep local print journalism alive.  Economies of scale allow the application of state-of-the-art methods of digital publication, news gathering, even routine editing work.  Some chains boast long records of journalist excellence; others measure their accomplishments simply in terms of how many newspapers they have kept alive in changing times, even when it entails the cessation of paper publication or home delivery.  But are these 21st century chain papers “citizens of the community” in the manner Lane County residents are accustomed to?

This program will look at the economic forces influencing local newspaper publication and how they are changing.  How much of the evolution is due to changes in consumer demand and preferences in receiving news?  How much because of general economic trends favoring mergers and consolidation in many industries?

Lisa Heyamoto is a narrative journalist and senior instructor of journalism at the University of Oregon. She has won several teaching awards, including the Jonathan Marshall Award for Innovative Teaching and a Disruptive Educator Fellowship from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Before joining the School of Journalism and Communication faculty, she was a columnist and reporter at The Sacramento Bee and The Seattle Times, where she wrote about culture, lifestyle and trends.

Heyamoto is co-founder of The 32 Percent Project, which explores what drives and disrupts public trust in the news media. She holds a masters degree in literary nonfiction journalism and a bachelors degree in journalism and English.