25 August 2010 by Published in: Opinion No comments yet

Your Local
Newspaper

Editorial Comments
by Deborah Steele Hazen

To those who are unaccustomed to finding this newspaper in their mailbox, allow us to introduce ourselves.

The Clatskanie Chief is an independent, locally-owned weekly newspaper which has served the communities of northwest Oregon since 1891.

Each year about this time, The Chief publishes its annual back-to-school edition and mails it to every postal patron in the 97016 (Clatskanie, Westport, Quincy, Mayger, Mist and the surrounding rural areas), and 97048 (Rainier, Alston’s Corner, Delena, Goble, etc.) zip code areas.

We do this for a dual purpose – to provide a service for the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts, for which The Chief serves as the newspaper of record, and to introduce ourselves to people in the area who may not be aware that there is a newspaper which has been – for over 119 years – solely dedicated to covering the news, the people and events of this corner of Oregon more thoroughly than any other newspaper or news source.

In addition to the hard copy of The Chief, available by subscription at just $25 per year in Columbia County and eastern Clatsop County (see the form inside), or for 50 cents an issue at various local stores and restaurants, The Chief also has a free website at www.clatskaniechiefnews.com. It is updated every Wednesday afternoon – and sometimes in-between if breaking news demands. Our website includes the front page news, sports, “The Trident,” legal notices and classified ads. For those who want the entire Chief electronically, we will e-mail it to you in PDF format every week for $20 per year.

We also offer a subscription to our “Chief Bulletin” e-mail service for $10 per year. Chief bulletins are e-mailed to update our readers during emergencies, weather events, highway closures, and breaking news stories of various kinds.

We offer free subscriptions to military personnel serving abroad.

Here for the Long Haul

The Clatskanie Chief has been owned and operated by four generations of the Steele family since 1922. To the best of our belief, that is longer than any other family-owned newspaper in the state.

In this age of huge chains owning multiple newspapers and other media outlets, we think it is a valuable thing to be independent. Our long tenure here also is evidence of our dedication to the communities we serve.

The Chief employees – both descendents of the Steele family and other staff members – are local residents, we are involved and invested as individuals, as a business, and as a newspaper in what is happening in Northwest Oregon.

We care about our community. We’re here – we’ve been here – for the long haul. Along with you, we’ve lived through the floods and mudslides, the accidents and the controversies. Our staff has decades of historical background on the issues we cover. Our children and grandchildren have grown up or are growing up here. Multiple generations of our families have spent their lives here.

We participate in community events and service activities. What is good for the local communities is also good for us, and the philosophy of this newspaper reflects that – The Chief is an advocate for the general good of the communities we serve.

However, we also have what may now be an old-fashioned set of journalistic ethics. We believe in reporting the facts and, as much as humanly possible, keeping our opinions out of news stories. While we don’t go digging around for scandals, when they happen in the public arena, we report them.

Our opinions are expressed in this column which was named by Art Steele (the grandfather of the current publisher and editor whose name is at the top of this column) back in the 1930s. We think he picked “The Trident” because he liked to take a poke at government officials, now and then, or policies with which he didn’t agree, or prod those in power to do something he felt needed to be done.

My father, Gail Steele, carried on that tradition, and when he was forced to retire for health reasons in 1993, I took over writing “The Trident.” I write on a variety of topics, from politics, to personal experiences told in a humorous way, to philosophical matters, to encouragement and congratulations on community service projects and programs. Occasionally, we turn this column over to another staff member or a guest editorialist. I am also a news reporter with over 40 years experience with daily and semi-weekly newspapers as well as with The Chief for over 30 years.

My daughter, Amanda Moravec, is the advertising and production manager for The Chief, as well as serving as one of our photographers and reporters.

Our letters to the editor column are open to our readers to express their opinions. We do not print criticisms of private individuals or businesses. However, elected officials are “fair game.” But, we encourage our readers to avoid personal attacks and concentrate on the official’s performance in office, votes and policies, etc. We believe in lively, but respectful debate, and the idea attributed to the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire that “I may not believe in what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it!”

The Chief is the only newspaper that consistently attends and reports on the meetings and actions of the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts, the Clatskanie and Rainier city councils, the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District, the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (which also serves most of the area inside the Rainier city limits), and the Rainier Economic Development Council.

We also cover local industry, the Port of St. Helens, Columbia and Clatsop county news, area law enforcement, school and sports news, articles about the events of area organizations, community festivities, weddings, engagements, births and deaths.

While we don’t take the time to nominate ourselves for recognition from newspaper organizations, through the years The Chief has won statewide awards for our positive coverage of school issues, investigative reporting and “The Trident.” We have been the recipient of the “Outstanding Media Achievement Award” from the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse programs, and of the Oregon State University family business program award.

More importantly, our walls are covered and our drawers full of awards, plaques, certificates and notes of thanks from the various local classes, community projects and programs, organizations, churches and individuals we cover.

When we are working late into the night to meet our weekly deadline, or driving home from a lengthy public meeting, the memory of those mementoes and words of thanks reminds us that what we are doing is worthwhile.

If you agree that it is a good thing to be informed about local government and what is happening in northern Columbia County and Eastern Clatsop County, and are not now a regular subscriber or purchaser of this newspaper, please consider spending 50 cents a week to become more informed about your community.

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