Celebrating an eclipse and an anniversary | Opinion


Two of the biggest events in Oregon this year are the total solar eclipse Aug. 21 and the 150th anniversary of The Guard, the predecessor of The Register-Guard.

OK, I have tongue firmly in cheek when comparing the eclipse to our 150th anniversary. But I do think there’s reader interest in both, so I want to invite our subscribers to two events we’re hosting next month at The Register-Guard.

On Monday, June 5, Oregon State University professor Randall Milstein will share insights on the total solar eclipse, a celestial event so rare that visitors from around the world will converge on Oregon. Milstein will break down the science behind the eclipse, what to expect in Eugene and other parts of the state, how local researchers and students are preparing for the event, and safety precautions residents must take to prevent eye damage. After a 30-minute multimedia presentation, Milstein will answer audience questions. I have lots of questions about the eclipse and know you do too, so I expect this to be a fun and interactive event.

Because of limited seating at our building at 3500 Chad Drive, we will require reservations. Stay tuned for announcements in The Register-Guard on how to reserve seats.

June is the 150th anniversary of The Guard, so we’ll celebrate with a special commemorative section on Sunday, June 4. We’ll follow that with an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 17. Subscribers are welcome to tour our facility and see our press run; meet with newsroom, advertising and digital-media leaders; participate in a live Give & Take (with moi); and otherwise learn about our rich history.

The Guard launched in June 1867 and published in various forms until 1930, when it purchased the competing Morning Register and merged into one newspaper, The Eugene Register-Guard. We have since morphed into RG Media Company, of which The Register-Guard is just one of our products and services. I hope you can find a little time to stop by that morning so we can thank you for your continued support of locally produced professional journalism and show you how our mission to connect our community is evolving in rapidly changing times.

*****

Molen: Several readers wrote in response to our April 30 “100 Days, 12 Voices” photo package by Register-Guard photojournalist Andy Nelson. Munir Katul wondered why we included “a number of Republican Party officials and not a single declared Democrat. It resulted in a very unbalanced and prejudiced review of opinions. I expect better from the R-G.” Mary Holton noted, “Though there was equal representation of men and women, the one thing that jumped out at me was the lack of diversity in the ‘voices.’ I found it unbelievable that there was not one person of color in your article.”

I thought Andy did some fine work in coming up with the idea, then capturing a mix of people throughout our circulation area, balanced by gender, age and political beliefs. That geographical diversity is important, because if you look at election results by precinct, there are clear distinctions between Eugene and the rest of the region (see our “How Lane County voted for president” map at http://projects.registerguard.com/pages/2016-precinct/ for the visual evidence).

“My hope was to be a bit more nuanced in my approach,” Andy said in explaining his goals for the package. “It is easy to find the ‘bomb-throwers,’ but I was hopeful to find people who were thoughtful and measured in their thoughts. I could have talked to a thousand people, and I dare say, that in some people’s eyes, the only ones that would be useful to hear from are those that would be the most extreme. I’m not sure that moves the dialogue forward.”

Andy did reach out to several members of minority groups for their involvement, but their only availability would have been after deadline. The fact that Andy spent nearly three weeks on the road covering Ducks basketball during this period further limited available times. So, it’s not a lack of awareness in wanting diversity. We simply fell short on the planning and execution to ensure our coverage was inclusive. Lane County is increasingly diverse, and we need to work harder to ensure our coverage reflects that.

I will push back on the suggestion that by not including comments from “stated” Democrats we didn’t represent Democratic viewpoints.

As Andy explained to me, “Five people spoke in opposition to, expressed concern about, or indicated they had been moved to action to oppose the policies of Trump. While they did not expressly identify as members of the Democratic Party, I felt their point of view was a counterbalance to the views of those expressed by people who support the president.”

Of the remaining seven voices:

Five supported President Trump, of whom three identified as members of the Republican Party.

One was a member of the Green Party.

Linda Lynch is publicly non-partisan, in line with her role as president of the League of Women Voters. “I felt her point on the lack of civility in conversations being seen on both sides of the political spectrum was an important bridge in the conversation,” Andy said.

*****

Reader: I have observed that the R-G has only three subjects that repeatedly make the front page (not to mention the majority of the remaining pages) of your paper: the Oregon Ducks, pot or how evil Trump and non-progressive people are (I consider the last two to be one, interrelated topic). Aren’t there other important topics to cover in our community and our world? I personally am sick of the top three and would appreciate subjects that cover more important local and world news. Perhaps if the R-G breaks out of the duck feathers, pot cloud and unabashed bias, it will retain and gain back more subscribers. Just my humble opinion and suggestion.

—Krystal Kowarsky, Springfield

Molen: Thanks, Krystal. I like a good letter and yours made me smile.

It’s true we give extra attention to President Trump and the Ducks — I would argue at levels in line with reader interest — but a check of front pages this year shows marijuana coverage trails far behind those two topics. Your perception that pot is frequently on the front page may have been magnified by our Cannabis Culture section, which was published shortly before you sent your letter. But I get your drift. Even a little can go a long way if you’re not interested.

Even though choosing cover stories is more art than science, we’ll always have primary topics that are more likely to appear on the front page because we believe there’s high reader interest in them. In reviewing our front pages this year, I’ve been pleased with the diversity of content beyond politics and sports, particularly those choices that celebrate the many good things happening in our community. We’ll strive to continue showcasing those kinds of stories to help you move past your pain points.

*****

Molen: Since Krystal mentioned a perceived abundance of marijuana coverage, I will use that as an entry point for a follow-up on our Cannabis Culture section, which we launched to meet reader and advertiser interest in an industry now legal in Oregon.

After the section appeared in The Register-Guard, we received four subscriber cancellations, and I received several letters and phone calls from readers concerned we were glorifying marijuana use. I also talked with several readers who were thrilled we were bringing “trusted” coverage to a fast-evolving industry not too far from its illegal past.

Our goal with the section is not to celebrate usage but to explore consumer, business and medical perspectives in ways that interest cannabis users and non-users alike. Our next edition of Cannabis Culture in July will continue that balance of appealing to proponents, opponents and those who straddle both sides.

*****

Molen: A loyal reader of our replica e-edition was recently surprised to find a change in the display had gone from one column of text to two.

“Now, rather than scrolling down the story from beginning to end, we have to scroll down to the end of the first column, then scroll back up to the top of the next column to continue, then do the same all over again if the story gets pushed to multiple pages. And it’s the same with printouts — a long multiple-page story is ridiculously convoluted to read.”

Our e-edition vendor made the change believing more readers would prefer multiple columns, but did a poor job of highlighting how customers could default to the original single-column format.

After getting under the hood myself, here’s how you can restore that single-column view:

1) Click “Options” on the right-hand side.

2) Select the “Settings” tab

3) Deselect the box for “Enable multiple columns view of articles.”

4) Save those settings by clicking on the “X” in the upper right of the overlay.

5) All print subscribers get free access to the e-edition, which can be a great alternative when you’re on the road. You can claim your free access at http://services.registerguard.com/

For your consideration:

Comics survey: Our survey of The Register-Guard comics you like and dislike is under way. The first step is a two-week preview in Oregon Life of eight new comic strips we think show promise as possible additions to our daily or Sunday lineup. But in order to add any of those new strips, you’ll need to help decide which current strips need to get bounced. You will have the power to make those decisions when we formally open voting next Sunday, May 28. We’ll email an online survey to subscribers for whom we have email addresses; other subscribers will need to submit a paper ballot that we’ll publish several times that week.

Discovery: I hope you saw Thursday’s Register-Guard, which included the 84-page 2017 edition of Discovery magazine. Discovery was one of the first things I read when interviewing for this job, and I instantly had a bucket list of things to do in exploring this beautiful region. Our 16th annual edition highlights new discoveries and lists hundreds of other destinations, activities and events. Be sure to hang on to your copy year-round or find more online at http://cloud.registerguard.com/discovery/

More Give & Take articles »

Register-Guard publisher Logan Molen welcomes your Give & Take submissions in several ways: Email to giveandtake@register­guard.com­. Snail mail to Logan Molen­, RG Media Company, 3500 Chad Drive, Eugene, OR 97408. Please include your name and phone number with all submissions. Phone numbers and email addresses will not be published.

Source