Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 15, 2019)
THE ASTORIAN • THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2019
Founded in 1873
JIM VAN NOSTRAND
JOHN D. BRUIJN
A reluctant farewell to Astoria
hen the Eagles broke up in
1980, Don Henley famously
remarked that the band would
play together again “when h ell freezes
over.” They ended up reuniting years
I felt the same way — in a differ-
ent context — when I moved to Asto-
ria two years ago to become editor of
The Daily Astorian. I’d
always wanted to live
here, and now I had the
chance to lead a tal-
news staff in a won-
derful community. I
thought this was my last
gig before retirement. I
couldn’t imagine leav-
ing. Hell would freeze
over ﬁ rst.
Well, h ell has frozen over.
I’ve accepted the position of Mis-
souri state editor for Gatehouse Media,
leading 22 newspapers — 13 dailies
and nine weeklies. I’m moving later this
month to Columbia, a vibrant college
town in the middle of the state, halfway
between Kansas City and St. Louis.
I wasn’t looking for a job, but it was
an offer I couldn’t refuse.
In 35 years in the news business in
seven different cities, I’ve never felt as
welcome in a new town as I have here.
This is the kind of community where
neighbors ﬂ ag me down as I drive by
to share tips or ask about stories we’re
A community where readers rou-
tinely go out of their way to tell me they
love the Daily A and appreciate having a
robust local paper covering local news.
They know many local papers across
the country are shutting down, creating
so-called “news deserts” where getting
credible information about what their
local ofﬁ cials are up to is next to impos-
sible for the average citizen.
A community where people care
about their heritage and unique quality
of life and embrace every chance to cel-
ebrate, from the Scandinavian f estival to
the Regatta to the Clatsop County Fair
to the annual FisherPoets gathering.
I will miss the foghorn blasts piercing
the mist, and the cacophony of the sea
lions rolling down the waterfront. Not
everyone feels that way, I know. For me,
they are sounds by which I will remem-
ber this place.
I will miss picking blackberries in
the wild, a cherished tradition from my
childhood in Washington state.
And most of all, I will miss the peo-
ple, from the good folks at KMUN to
the awesome ladies in the American
Association of University Women who
worked with us to organize community
forums during election season. The peo-
ple who have made my time here spe-
cial are far too many to name individu-
ally. You know who you are, and I thank
all of you.
Existential ﬁ ght
A bit about my new employer, Gate-
house. It’s a big company, about to get
bigger if the pending acquisition of Gan-
The view from my living room.
Blue Scorcher fare.
Blackberries cost $8 a pint at grocery
stores back East.
A breakfast guest in the yard.
nett is ﬁ nalized. The combined company
will own more than 250 daily newspa-
pers and hundreds of weekly and com-
Gatehouse typically cuts staff and
runs a leaner operation when it acquires
a newspaper, as it did recently with the
Register-Guard in Eugene. It has been
vociferously criticized for that model.
Many of those criticisms are justiﬁ ed.
But what the critics ignore is that most
newspapers are in an existential ﬁ ght
for their future. Revenues are plummet-
ing and young people tend to get most
of their news online. Newspapers must
adapt or die.
Most of the local owners who have
sold their publications to the big chains
wouldn’t have done so if they were
wildly proﬁ table. Steve Forrester and
his family, who own EO Media Group
and The Astorian, have made the tough
choices and remain committed to local
ownership. And they have just pur-
chased the Bend Bulletin, Baker City
Herald and La Grande Observer in Cen-
tral and Eastern Oregon to keep those
newspapers in local hands.
I have been on the front lines of that
existential ﬁ ght for years now. Hundreds
of my former colleagues have been
forced out of the business or left in frus-
tration. Those of us who survived and
stayed have had to do more with less,
often toiling away surrounded by the
empty cubicles of their friends.
Veteran journalists like me have a
stark choice. We can bemoan the way
it used to be and choose another line of
work. Or we can roll up our sleeves and
try to make journalism succeed in the
I choose the latter. The Washington
Post’s motto, “Democracy dies in dark-
ness,” is more than just a catchphrase. I
got into this business because I passion-
ately believe that it’s a higher calling,
not just a job.
I will be forever grateful to Steve and
his family for the opportunity to work
here. I will miss my colleagues at The
Astorian and its sister publications.
And I’m looking forward to taking on
a new challenge in Missouri.
IN 35 YEARS IN THE NEWS BUSINESS IN SEVEN DIFFERENT CITIES, I’VE NEVER FELT AS
WELCOME IN A NEW TOWN AS I HAVE HERE. THIS IS THE KIND OF COMMUNITY WHERE NEIGHBORS
FLAG ME DOWN AS I DRIVE BY TO SHARE TIPS OR ASK ABOUT STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON.
The view from near my home on Commercial Street.