Time of My Life, Part 39: Beating out the big guys

Everyone appreciates recognition. We appreciate especially when it comes from one’s peers.

My journalism career wasn’t full of such recognition. I have said I enjoyed some modest success over 37 years as a reporter and editor of daily newspapers. One such moment presented itself early in my careers.

The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in 1981 awarded the newspaper I was editing at the time its annual award for Best Continuing Coverage of a Single Issue. What made the honor so special was that our newspaper, a five-day-per-week afternoon daily that circulated to about 7,000 subscribers, won out over much larger, more well-endowed newspapers in Oregon.

The issue we covered like a blanket involved a proposed “resource recovery” plant in Oregon City. Officials in the city wanted to build a plant to burn garbage and turn it into energy generated from the landfill. Our newspaper, the now-defunct Oregon City Enterprise-Courier, comprised a staff of six reporters. One of them, David Peters, received the assignment to cover this story for the newspaper.

Dave did a magnificent job!

The plant never got built. The story we presented was thorough in the extreme. We talked to all sides on this complicated issue. We reported every possible benefit and down side of this project.

What made the honor so sweet is that it came to us in 1981, the year that the Portland Oregonian was covering the eruption of Mount St. Helens in nearby Washington state. Oh, did I mention that the Oregonian circulated about 300,000 copies daily, or that it employed a staff many times larger than our little ol’ newspaper?

The state also comprised other much larger newspapers … in Eugene, Salem, Medford, Astoria, to name just a few communities served by healthy daily publications.

ONPA saw fit to honor us.

Yes, that was our moment. I am proud to have played a part in it.

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