Guest Opinion

Letters to the Editor

Ridin' the Rapids

How's the NewsArk?

“How’s the NewsArk going?” is a question often asked when we’re out and about and encounter readers. As I write this (Tuesday morning, 12/3/13) the Indiegogo online crowdfunding site has generated $3,915 - with four days left in the campaign.
During that process we’ve heard some interesting comments. Some people are afraid of using credit cards online or logging into PayPal. Instead they’ve sent a couple hundred dollars in cash and checks.
Others have suggested starting a non-profit publishing venture so contributions would be tax deductible. There were also a few who thought we should break the NewsArk project up into segments - say the 70’s, then the 80’s, etc., rather than launching it all at once.
On the negative side, “user-friendliness” was an issue. There were a few complaints about a “questionnaire” that is required on pages when using the database compiled by SmallTownPapers. Some folks told us they aren’t “social media people” and don’t like being asked questions.
That’s a justifiable reaction to what they looked at. However, those pages are not the NewsArk. The database search pages are formatted the way SmallTownPapers chose to publish the issues they had scanned online.
We decided that choice could be improved and came up with creating pdf files as a solution.
The back issues in the NewsArk have no questionnaires or other distractions. In addition, our files are not just images of a page - they contain the actual text in columns that people can highlight, copy, & paste into other documents. Readers can copy & paste the photos or other images too.
We also received a request from a communications class at the University of Oregon to get involved.  They have decided to take on the NewsArk as a class project next term, examining the best ways to promote it.
Besides that, the Folkways program at the UO has two grad students who want to do interviews with older people in the community and write articles to help us preserve local history.
The funds that have been generated so far for this project will go toward the purchase of new computer hardware and software that will allow us to build up an archive of easily accessible digital files of back issues of River Reflections.
Currently. there are 95 back issues of McKenzie River Reflections saved as digital files on our website. They go back to January of 2009. Our first focus will be to take on the rest of that decade to add issues through 2000. Then we’ll take on the 1990’s, the 1980’s and finally 1978 and 1979. The further back we go, the more man hours will be required to rebuild those back issues.
In other words, this has been an interesting exercise but it will also an ongoing one. After the Indiegogo campaign ends, people can still support the NewsArk - we’ll keep you updated through these pages.
Thanks to everyone for the contributions. We truly appreciate your support.

Nov. 14, 2013

Ode To A Weekly Editor

I go to work on Monday morn, not rightly sure why I’ve been born.
To be an editor endowed with skills to serve the reading crowd.
I could have been an engineer, an astronaut devoid of fear, or been a doc, a scalpel whiz, to take me where the money is. Instead I opted to become a writer; destined to succumb to all the woes a weekly brings - like deadlines, debts and other things, like names misspelled, a jumbled quote, a guy incensed because I wrote a piece which went against his grain (is that what caused my stomach pain?). A cancelled ad at paste-up time, an obit late with words sublime.
And when I’m working on the run, a caller wonders if I’ve done a feature on the spud he’s raised - he says I would be quite amazed to see how big the thing has grown. (I finally get him off the phone).
That’s when I learn, to my dismay, it’s going to be a hellish day. I find my waxer on the fritz, and when my main computer quits, with lots of ads yet to set.
The serviceman is hard to get. He comes at last and, when he starts, he says he has to order parts. But praise the Lord, by lucky quirk, he finds a way to make it work.
Now everything will be alright - except I have to work all night. As press day dawns, with bleary eyes, I say a prayer unto the skies, then roar off to the printing plant I’ve proved again I won’t say “Can’t!”
I grab the first run off the press, I must admit I’m under stress. It’s too late now; I scan it quick - there’s gotta be some nit to pick. Oh, joy supreme, I didn’t fail - another issue in the mail! I’ll know too soon what folks have read, but first I’ll stagger off to bed. I’m sure a typo (maybe three) will fill some critic full of glee - but I don’t care; ‘tis worth it all, to get a complimentary call.
I could have worked at Pizza Hut, sold shoes or peas or used cars, but - despite the weekly misery, there is no other job for me; to heed the journalistic muse, to be the bearer of the news.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to JP Doodles and Keith Jones, a South Dakota muser.)


McKenzie River Reflections

November 7, 2013

“Congratulations!  We do hope that many of us older folk won’t lose the comfort of the printed page, held in the usual manner between a late morning cup of coffee and a cozy fire.  The internet provides many things to many people, but is as cold as a heartless mistress  (that was Glenn Campbell’s prose - not mine) .“
“Your NewsArk project sounds like a great one. I’m old fashioned and still write letters and still like to read newspapers. But I know there will be many who will appreciate the updated versions of all those issues. Good luck.”

Notes like those have come from people in response to our announcement of a new project that will help us preserve 35 years of history contained in the back issues of this newspaper.
By Tuesday morning 21 contributors had pledged $3,260 on our fundraising website at indiegogo.com/projects/newsark. Most of those backers have chosen to remain anonymous. They’ve also opted not to sign up for a perk - ranging from postcards or bumper stickers to T-shirts or lifetime subscriptions. That choice means more of their money will go to the project. And, like the notes above show, some people prefer to side step the online process - mailing checks for the NewsArk directly to us.
We really appreciate all that encouragement and support.
Another note asked a question some people might also have: “Can you pinpoint for me the advantage and necessity of the NewsArk project after SmallTownPapers has already created a public searchable database?”
The searchable database is an extremely useful research tool. It accurately locates key words or phrases and creates a list of clickable links to past articles containing that material, however, the search results in only an image of a printed page.
The NewsArk is designed to take the digital transformation one notch higher - truly accessable pages. Just ask anyone who now has a digital subscription to River Reflections. They’ve told us they really appreciate the ability to copy & paste both text and images so that they can then print out or email items to friends and family.
If you’d like to see what we’re talking about, contact us at rivref@aol.com and we’d be happy to send you a sample, as well as accept a contribution.


McKenzie River Reflections