FROM THE PUBLISHER: Every day, we answer to our readers

At the same time Oregon’s largest daily newspaper, The Oregonian, was scheming to reduce its delivery days from seven to four, it also was continuing with plans to launch neighborhood newspapers in the Portland suburbs of Forest Grove and Beaverton.

Hopefully the latter part of the sentence above will resonate with readers. Because newspapers aren’t going away, they’re just figuring out other ways to deliver the news.

It’s true that large, metro daily newspapers are decreasing staff and delivery days. But they’re also reinventing themselves, so to speak, by moving from print-based products to online entities. Similar shifts to fewer editions and more of an emphasis on digital have occurred in other metro newspapers in Detroit, New Orleans and Syracuse.

Yet, some of those same companies, as well as wealthy investors like Warren Buffet, are starting and/or purchasing smaller newspapers. There’s a future in the news business, especially where there is “more of a feeling of community,” Buffet recently told writer Howard Kurtz.

Buffet’s a smart man.

To be sure, the Hood River News and other community newspapers have branding challenges we need to address. We do our best not to get clumped in with our metro brethren. Yet, we’re facing some of the same issues as larger newspapers: shrinking classified revenue, an aging readership and the challenge of coming up with the right mix of content to appeal to print readers vs. those who prefer electronic mediums.

That relates to another important fact all of us in this business, large and small, must come to grips with: We no longer are simply newspapers. The News pushes information over the Internet, through social media and in print. We’re news gatherers and news disseminators.

But unlike the Oregonian and other larger newspapers, the News has never been the big dog in the room — that was never the goal. Our calling always was, and continues to be, to record what’s going on in our small corner of the world, Hood River County. It’s to write about the good and the bad; the births and deaths; the hawks and doves.

Our calling also is to help potential customers connect with local businesses — from large co-ops like Hood River Supply to family-owned shops like Hood River Jewelers.

Smaller newspapers like the News don’t have to answer to stockholders in far-away corporate board rooms. We answer to our readers and advertisers — most of whom are our neighbors. We are far from perfect; in fact our mistakes make easy fodder for naysayers. But that’s a small price to pay; truth be told, it keeps us on our toes.

In a similar way, that occurs when we remember two basic journalistic premises: No. 1, it’s the news that is important, not the news “paper.” And No. 2, that the news must remain independent and uncensored.

If we can continue to adhere to those principals we will remain legitimate; we will remain connected to the community. And that connection is of the utmost importance to us, whether it is made via a smartphone or by printing ink on paper.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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