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Changes afoot for the newspaper

Over the past four years this organization has changed from the legacy newspaper Rosebud purchased in 2017 in many different ways.

As it relates to our reporting and editorial content, some in the community, current readers included, have acknowledged our efforts to keep news articles based to facts and not take up a position. This allows members of the community to make their own judgments and decisions rather than rely on our interpretation.

Our editorials are done by a group, and until now, with very little influence from me as traditionally afforded to an owner or publisher. However, again please note this has nothing to do with reporting. There is a clear separation between reporting and editorials.

We also (for decades) have featured a very robustly used letters to the editor section and local guest opinions on our opinion pages.

That allowed anyone to submit fact-based opinions of specified lengths to express their view on any topic. Those views could support or disagree with those we have published. Almost all letters that we receive within the guidelines (stated above) have been, in fact, published.

Our reporting

Our goal is to make sure our community has reliable, honest and trusted reporting. We are a source based on fact, not opinion.

That means there will be stories where the facts may conflict with your beliefs, but nonetheless the reporting is factual. It is not a narrative, not an advocacy or biased by the reporter or the newspaper.

Our editorials

Those are opinions. Some you may agree with and some may be diametrically opposite to your point of view and way of thinking.

Letters to the editor

Those come unsolicited from the public. We publish almost all of them.

We do not pick and choose letters based on any criteria other than length and fact-based commentary.

We do not select or reject a letter based on anyone in this organization’s predisposed position on the subject matter.

Three problems and the changes

The first problem Rosebud faces is opinions based on the legacy of this newspaper, its reporters, editorial writers and contributors.

In the Rogue Valley we have been tagged as a liberal-leaning news organization. We are not.

In Salem, I am told we are viewed as a conservative organization.

Go figure?

The change in this organization’s reporting led by Editor Justin Umberson has been successful. We present an unbiased cache of fact-based reporting. We will continue on that path. Those who read the newspaper and not just the headlines have seen that metamorphosis. Both subscribers and those within our profession have noticed and have provided guidance.

As it relates to editorial positions on topics and events, you will see a change over the course of this year to reflect more of my input — not just as a participant on the editorial board but rather leading its points of view.

The second problem we face is that some people don’t know or purposely don’t want to differentiate a news report from an editorial opinion. Some think and have expressed to me that our reporting should slant or should reflect their opinion — not to be accurate, but to gain their continued support and readership.

We don’t and won’t do that like some in other markets have over the years.

Yes, we make mistakes sometimes, but we will own up to them, and it will be in a very public way instead of buried. (Please know I have told reporters, if they put their bias into a story, I will reconsider their continued employment with this company.)

We edit wire service articles and are hiring another person who can review and edit those reports from The Associated Press and will shortly eliminate The Washington Post and other slanted sources that parade as unbiased news and information.

The third issue is that of letters to the editor. Since the majority — an estimated ratio of 10 to 1 — of the submitted letters are progressive or liberal leaning, it feeds into the perception we are biased. Again, we publish almost everything we receive that’s within guidelines.

The change is that we are going to stop printing letters that are written on national subjects and continue to run those that focus on local and regional issues. To do differently feeds into our own demise, and our pages shouldn’t be anyone’s echo chamber.

We will place the ones we don’t print on our website, but since publishing them in the newspaper feeds a perception that we are working hard to eliminate, considerate that on hiatus.

You will observe a technological transformation this summer in all of our products and investment that has taken too long and has finally come to fruition. Those changes to our platform will improve your access in all areas of distribution of physical, digital and video based services. More on this later.

In the rare speeches I have given about this organization, my position has been that I did not come here to “save a newspaper.” No one can. But rather to evolve this organization to a 21st century news, information and entertainment source, one that this valley can be proud of and can rely on. Where others are failing, I am proud we are with a dedicated group of professionals. Please support us.

Steven Saslow is owner and publisher of Rosebud Media, the Mail Tribune and the Ashland Tidings.

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