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Jun-09-2008 02:12TweetFollow @OregonNews
Oregon Internet News Organization Revises Format; Announces ChangesTim King Salem-News.com
Call it a victory for corporate media and corporate America. We admit that we have suffered a defeat, but it seems like rather than taking us to task for our reports, somebody came by in the middle of the night and dropped sugar in our gas tank.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Sometimes it is hard to know when your best efforts are falling short. It is not always easy to pin down what the causes are, but it is obvious that when a public entity like a news Website chooses to confront large problems in the world through journalism, that there will be a blowback factor.
Two stories published at the end of May ’08; one about illegal activities by Charles Schwab, and one about former President Jimmy Carter’s revelation that Israel, a non-declared nuclear power, actually has at least 150 nuclear weapons, have taken their toll on our daily visitor count.
For some reason that we can’t exactly define, our daily number of visitors, which consistently grew from the time of the company was established four years ago this July, just dropped overnight after the Israel story.
Call it a victory for corporate media and corporate America. We admit that we have suffered a defeat, but it seems more like rather than taking us to task for our reports, somebody came by the middle of the night and dropped sugar in our gas tank.
Undoubtedly, we have been a major thorn in the sides of many legitimate groups like the VA, Catholic Church, the DEA, Oregon law enforcement agencies and countless others, and we have also taken on fringe nuthouse jobs like the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas that we traveled across the state to basically show the idiocy of. Our perceived role in the community was and is to expose problems in all walks of life. Sometimes you step on toes.
We have rallied for a woman who lived in Polk County, Oregon who was horribly abused first by her abusive husband, and then by the Oregon justice system. I spent two months in Afghanistan covering the stories of our citizen soldiers from Oregon at war for Salem-News.com. My wife Bonnie and Dr. Phil Leveque have cut over 20 video programs with questions and answers about legal medical marijuana use, a total taboo with corporate media.
Over the past four years, Kevin Hays has written about every general news subject while suffering the physical pain from his war-related military disability, literally in anguish many days. Kevin and I both earned many broadcast and news awards over the years and Kevin received a huge contributor award for his work with the Associated Press for Salem-News.com. And through his op-ed column, Hank Clay Ruark has shows us that people with many years under their belts can still have the youngest and kindest hearts.
We have talked it up, we admit that, because we have just kicked the asses of large corporate media groups on many occasions and we have had hours of over 20k visitors. Now I am lucky to see 300 visitors in an hour.
Maybe we have been kidding ourselves thinking that we could do daily news with such a tiny staff, but we know we have made a difference and we have literally, impacted countless of results with our stories, mostly in good ways.
Salem-News.com has been the only media group doing mainstream news that has a staff comprised largely of military veterans, all of whom have spent time in a war. It seems our thinking on the idea that we should have loud voices as the nation engages in multiple wars was, and is, a good idea. That leads to the good news.
We are not going away, I want to be very clear about that. We are drawing back and regrouping. I have to seek employment elsewhere as I have dragged my family far down a road that has benefited them little. I stayed glued to this site, writing stories seven days a week, for just less than four years. I have traveled the world for this news group and there is no way we are going to let it go. We do however realize that daily news is no longer an option for us.
Based on traffic checks and numbers, our feature stories always bring the highest readership. We will continue to provide feature reports and our wonderful commentaries like Henry Ruark’s heartfelt op-ed’s will continue, and Leonardo’s cartoon series Nota Bene will see its 100th installment in three weeks and many more after that. I can hardly describe the dedication that has gone into Salem-News.com for the last three years and eleven months. We really thought we would come into contact with investor money by this point but we have not, so we must fall back and remain effective as a news Website that publishes important and relevant political stories and other local and national stories, with more depth.
Our advertisements will all remain in place and remain viable and hopefully we will bring even better results. One strange thing that has happened along with a numerical drop in visitors is a significant jump in the number of stories our visitors are opening and reading. Our comments have been fairly strong and we receive more news leads in our newsroom email and have more contacts than we can count. The bottom line at this point, is that we are just publishing a small fraction of the information that is delivered to us. We will continue to emphasize Oregon problems and Salem is still the home base, so look for continuing feature reports based in and around Salem and other parts of the state.
Those who keep up know that I was scheduled to go to Iraq and cover Oregon Guard troops this year. My travel plans with a local aviation contractor were squashed by the Air Force who went to great effort to make sure I would not fly to Kuwait on an Evergreen Aviation plane contracted by the U.S. government. Why did this happen? Because I called the Dover Air Force Base Public Affairs Office and (like an idiot in retrospect) told them I was boarding an Evergreen plane in about a week and wanted to make sure I was allowed to go aboard the base. That was my mistake that cost all of us the Iraq trip two months ago. I had not the foggiest idea that the Air Force would raise an objection, as I was a card carrying contractor for Evergreen. I would not have been the first journalist to travel to Kuwait with Evergreen, but for some reason they were able to completely derail my trip.
We received a number of donations for that trip and those were used to purchase the items that were listed at the time. At this moment my gear for Iraq is still packed, minus a few things, as the Oregon Guard continued for several weeks to explore other ways to complete my transport to Iraq. They told me several weeks ago that I was already cleared and approved to go to Iraq with an Oregon Guard detachment heading over in August. I plan to go on that trip and as long as it works out, that is where the kind donations will end up going. I will be looking for work in the meanwhile; it would be great if I ended up with a media group here in Oregon that would carry the coverage in August.
You will continue to find plenty of stories about politics, world struggles, the economy, social injustice, alternative energy and holistic medical care. I will continue to publish articles from myself and our staff of volunteer writers, and we will continue to write about injustices being suffered by former and current members of our military, and Dr. Leveque will continue to write about PTSD and problems in the veteran care system while providing articles about medical marijuana.
We will continue to publish hard hitting, important stories that probably make us more than our share of enemies; but that is fine with us. We abhor social injustice and adolescent style approaches to the use of our military. We are people, who, as Dr. Leveque would say, “have been there and done that” and we will not be swayed or bullied, even if we have to take a reality check for now.
We know our purpose and even if it is changing, there is little in the way of regret. Sorry Salem, we hope that one day in the future we can reemerge again as a daily local source of breaking and developing news, filling then void that exists without our efforts.
Since you are still reading, it is also noteworthy that the Salem, Oregon newspaper has followed our lead almost since the beginning, and we see that as a compliment. We created a comment section, they created a comment section. Shortly after we began incorporating video reports in our news, they added video. The best part was that paper sending a reporter to Afghanistan after my return from covering the war there. If we have inspired others and raised the bar in any way, we are proud.
Articles for June 8, 2008 | Articles for June 10, 2008