Skyler (Sky) J Chappell: A Youthful New Voice at The New Era

Kristy Tallman

We at The New Era are thrilled to introduce one our newest additions to the team, Skyler J Chappell. At a mere 18 years old, Chappell brings experience and a fresh perspective to our newsroom.

“He’s a smart kid that isn’t afraid to step forward and have a conversation. This is a rare quality today, too much time is spent behind a keyboard or a phone and having a conversation face to face on a regular basis isn’t appealing to the younger generation,” said Chris Chapman, publisher.

Hailing from the city San Jose, CA, Chappell’s formal journey into journalism began at Sweet Home High School (SHHS), where he distinguished himself as a talented writer and freethinker. For three years, he served as a journalist for his high school newspaper, The Huskian, delving into a variety of topics that piqued his interest.

Chappell said he spoke with his high school History teacher, Jim Costa and it was from that conversation his teacher saw he had things he cared passionately about. “He talked with me and saw I could be an asset to the team.”

It was during these formative years that Chappell honed his skills, crafting opinion pieces that challenged the status quo and reflected his belief in the importance of diverse perspectives. As he eloquently puts it, “After moving from a strict one [political] party environment, it opened up my ability to form my own opinions instead of being regulated by everyone else.”

Chapman, when looking to hire new talent said, “It was clear to me when looking at the span of so called journalists in the field, and the current state of news as a whole, that in order to get back to the roots of unbiased journalism we would have to likely remove the academic background from the equation.”

Chappell’s passion for writing extends beyond the realm of journalism; from a young age, he found solace and inspiration in crafting stories drawn from his own dreams. Encouraged by his mother and supported by his grandparents, who played a pivotal role in his upbringing, Chappell’s talent blossomed, leading him to pursue opportunities in the world of media and communication.

Despite facing challenges along the way, including transitioning between different educational settings such as Sweet Home Charter School, Sodaville Charter School, and homeschooling through the k12 online program, Chappell’s determination never wavered. As a proud resident of Sweet Home, he juggles his responsibilities at The New Era with a part-time role at All Star Pizza, showcasing his strong work ethic and dedication to his craft.

For Chappell, journalism is just the beginning; for him it’s too early to settle on a lifetime career, though he says journalism is very fulfilling. “I was going to join the military,” he said, “but I found out I would be better at a white collar style job than a blue collar. The biggest thing though, was keeping my options open. It’s very unrealistic to expect kids to have their goals all lined out and know what they are going to do with their lives.”

As he reflected on his journey to this stage of his life, he emphasized the importance he felt of experience over formal education, stating, “Realistically, experience takes you further than the classroom. I’m a realist.”

While some may opt for a traditional college education, Chappell sees value in learning through hands-on experience. He says he refuses to go into debt over a piece of paper, opting instead to carve his own path to his future. As he aptly put it, “Locally, Linn Benton Community College’s (LBCC) graduation rate is only 17% according to the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard, why would I want to go there?”

However, Chappell’s decision to forgo college does not equate to complacency; on the contrary, he is determined to excel in his current field and actively seeks opportunities for growth and development.

“Sky fits that mentality and is willing to learn “the hard way” so to speak. He isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and take on new challenges.” said Chapman

His internship with The New Era, which began in September 2023, is a testament to his dedication and willingness to learn. With each assignment, Chappell works hard to push his personal boundaries and hone his storytelling techniques while striving to bring the news to his community.

Looking ahead, Chappell has ambitious goals, including the desire to witness The New Era’s 100th anniversary in 2029. However, he acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead, particularly in a state like Oregon, where the cost of living can be troublesome especially for the younger generations.

“I would love to be around to see the 100th Anniversary of The New Era,” he said, while conceding, “As a realist that unfortunately may not be a reality due to Oregon’s cost of living. I may end up somewhere else.”

In addition to his professional endeavors, Chappell is deeply invested in his community, advocating for more opportunities for teens and youth engagement. He recognizes the importance of providing outlets for creativity and self-expression, particularly in a town like Sweet Home, where options may be limited. He said, “We need things aimed towards teens and kids to do.”

Beyond his work at The New Era and All Star Pizza, Chappell finds fulfillment in spending time with his family, specifically his grandfather. His unwavering support and encouragement has been instrumental in Chappell’s journey.

With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to storytelling, Chappell is determined to make his mark in the industry, one article at a time. He says that in one way or another, writing will always be a part of his life.

As Chappell embarks on this new chapter of his career, we invite you to join us in welcoming him to The New Era family. With his unique perspective, dedication, and boundless enthusiasm, we have no doubt that Chappell will play an integral role in shaping the future of journalism.

“He has been a tremendous addition so far and I look forward to a New Era future with Sky’s byline printed frequently in its pages.” remarked Chapman

Currently Chappell writes around town, police logs, circuit and municipal court decisions, wrestling and basketball. He will pick up new sports as the seasons progress and we expect you will see new original articles from Chappell as well.