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An old ‘watchdog’ with a bit of bite moves up Highway 58 to edit Herald

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dean rea,musings,highway 58 heraldI’m an old “watchdog” with a bit of bite.

Just volunteered to continue helping inform folks about what’s going on in their Highway 58 communities, especially about how their city, county, state and federal representatives as “serving” them rather than special interests.

I’m referred to as a “watchdog” of government. Folks usually don’t like journalists like me because we attempt to be factual, objective and independent. Our primary role is to report the news as completely, as fairly and as accurately as possible. We ain’t perfect, but you need us if you expect to participate intelligently as a citizen in what is referred to as a representative form of government.

That’s why I volunteered a year ago to report news about the Lower 58 communities of Pleasant Hill and Lowell for the Herald.

A few weeks ago, the Herald needed to replace its editor, who retired for health reasons.

dear rea,mugshot,musings
Dean Rea Ruth Boatmun photo

At the time I was busy playing bingo at a Eugene retirement home but eventually decided that I could help ram-rod a newspaper once again. My offer was accepted probably because I work for free.

So, I’m moving up the highway to help inform folks in Oakridge and Westfir about what’s going on in their communities. As the editor, I have a plan to help resume news coverage in the lower Highway 58 communities I previously covered. May be late in making the trip, however, because I finally purchased a cell phone. May have to ask my great-grandkids to teach me how to operate the critter.

I know I’ll be working in dangerous territory. It’s not like I haven’t been shot from the saddle by the Hatfields as well as by the McÇoys. Been there, done that most of my newspapering life. Makes the ride more interesting.

Started my career hand-setting type in a Missouri weekly newspaper as a junior high school student. Couldn’t do that today. Government folks don’t let young ‘uns do such dangerous work. Might mash a hand in a printing press. Of course, most printing presses ended up in museums.

After spending half my formative years in college and in the Air Force, I nearly starved to death working seven days a week for weekly newspapers in Missouri and then in Oregon. Finally landed a well-paying reporting gig with the Eugene Register-Guard and figured a 40-hour week might suit me just fine.

Later decided to teach what I had learned about the role of the press in our so-called government for and by the people. Spent time teaching at Oregon and Montana universities and at Biola University in Los Angeles County.

As a former journalism educator, I am interested in the Highway 58 Herald for a number of reasons. Online news sources like the Herald are replacing print newspapers, which are reducing staff and closing shop. The online town crier appears to be the best method for providing information needed to keep government officials accountable and to inform readers about community events.

The Herald is a non-profit enterprise. Underscore non-profit, which is a reason that we’re looking for volunteers to help report the news, to write features and to take pictures. (You can get in touch with me at [email protected])

In any event, the challenge to continue as a volunteer member of the Herald staff was too much for this 92-year-old, over-the-hill retiree to ignore. Granted, I should have acted my age and enjoyed marking time in my Eugene retirement home rather than zooming into a city council or school board meeting with a tape recorder, pen, paper and camera.

I may have to remain awake all night writing a story and posting it on the Herald’s website. And no one may read or like what I write, but what the heck.

Beats bingo.

Longtime Oregon journalist Dean Rea, widely known for his years as a University of Oregon journalism educator and an editor at The Register-Guard in Eugene,  serves as editor of The Herald.




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