Malheur Enterprise staffers (from left) Yadira Lopez, Joe Siess, Roseanne Zueger, Howard Benson, Autumn Butler, Sheila Schroder, Isabella Garcia and Pat Caldwell offer a sign of appreciation for the support extended by readers and online followers during interesting times this month.
The note came as the Malheur Enterprise found itself in a national media storm last week.
“I just sent a small $10 donation out of my tiny pension in solidarity with your work to hold the county accountable. Thanks for all you do – excellent reporting, training future journalists, going where cowboys fear to tread!”
Her donation was the first of several that flowed into our shop from around Oregon, Washington and elsewhere. One donation came from Georgia, another from Connecticut.
And that’s on top of one new subscriber after another who signed up to show support for our small team in Vale.
This came about after we reported that a county official thought the Enterprise had engaged in criminal conduct while gathering information. Sheriff Brian Wolfe confirmed he’d been asked to assess the matter – and he soon announced there was no cause for a criminal investigation.
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As the hubbub died down, I was curious about the retiree making the $10 donation. I reached out to her over the weekend, and she didn’t want to be identified. But she explained what prompted her to act. I’ll just let her speak for herself:
I grew up a fan of investigative journalism, which over the past ten years has been harder and harder to do well given the financial and political manipulations. I love that you know how to do investigative journalism and that you are training young journalists in that skill as well.
"I’ve most recently been intrigued by the documentation of financial irregularities at the economic development program and the withholding of public records. Probably the county officials siccing the sheriff on the paper was the final straw.
Please note: I’m not anti-county. I’m anti not playing by the rules. And you cover plenty of the good stuff, too.
So, I thought – what can I do that is NOT FB smuggery? I can skip a non-emergency purchase and send you a small donation as a way to express my solidarity with your work to ensure that everyone knows what is going on - the positive, the problematic, and all."
She does a good job of capturing what the Enterprise does – probes where it’s needed, celebrates where it’s deserved.
Through the tumultuous week, our small staff continued plowing ahead, doing what they do so well in the face of a constantly ringing phone, visitors, press calls and more.
This episode underscores what I have always believed about many people – that you hunger for credible news about the community. Most want the facts, presented responsibly and accurately.
Just Saturday, I heard from a corporate CEO in California who made that very point:
“I deeply appreciate your work, and urge you to continue to just report the facts. Some of us can think for ourselves.”
The message from so many of you was pretty clear to us at the Enterprise: Stand strong and keep going.
And as if we needed outside encouragement, colleagues across Oregon came to our support. Editorials appeared in The Oregonian, the Bend Bulletin, the East Oregonian, the Medford Mail Tribune, Grants Pass Courier, Keizertimes, and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
As I said to our staff, all this attention is nice – but it also underscores our duty to conduct ourselves at the highest standards of journalism.
If you are a subscriber or just subscribed in recent days: Thank you.
If you’ve been sampling us with a free trial, consider moving over to a paid subscription.
And, if you’re not interested in subscribing but want to follow our retired friend’s example, every donation is used to fund our intern program, training the next generation.
You can find each of those options on our website.
And if you’re really a fan of what we do, watch this space. I’m hoping on Monday we can share the design for a new T-shirt, inspired by some of the social media events of recent days. We expect them to go quick.
From all of us at the Enterprise, know that we appreciate every bit of support.
We need it to stay strong and grow.
We need it to do what you expect of us – quality journalism that otherwise would not get done.
Contact: Les Zaitz: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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