TNE milestone sparks memories


Happy 90th birthday to The New Era. 

You don’t look a day over 39. 

Congratulations to Scott and Miriam Swanson and crew for keeping community journalism alive and kicking and doing so in such grand style. Under their leadership, The New Era continues to be a vital, lively and award-winning newspaper in an era when that is increasingly difficult to do. 

Small-town newspapers are disappearing nationwide, with some rural counties no longer having a single local source of print news. According to an Associated Press study, more than 1,400 newspapers have closed in the USA in the last 15 years.

More are on their death bed. 

In March 1985, my young wife Debbie and I loaded our three children, our dog and all of our worldly goods into a moving truck and headed to Sweet Home from St. Joseph, Mo., much like early pioneers. Debbie and the kids had never seen the logging community nearly 2,000 miles away, but I was convinced the beautiful town on the banks of the South Santiam River had great potential.

Some 34 years later, I have that same belief. 

Owning The New Era from 1985 to 2005 was a highlight of my life and provided our family with many wonderful opportunities and memories. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Seeing the Swansons rear their three beautiful daughters while operating the paper the last 14-plus years, has brought much joy to our lives as well. I always compared owning a community newspaper to owning a family farm — lots of hard work, but at least family members are working together.

The Swansons – aided by dedicated staff members such as Sean Morgan – are doing what many other small-town newspapers have failed to do and that is continue to provide their subscribers with timely, accurate and interesting stories about what the city council or school board members are up to; how the local football and volleyball teams are doing; which volunteers are making their community better; and on the editorial page, nudging folks to all pull in the same direction to ensure prosperity for their community. 

They base their decisions on the good of the community, not just on their annual budget.

Owning a community newspaper — what we used to call “mom and pop” newspapers — is an all-consuming business. There are much easier ways to earn a living, but few are as rewarding as watching that newspaper roll off the press every Tuesday morning.

I always remember The New Era’s birthday because our belated friend and reporter Pete Porter were born the same year. Pete is no longer with us, but I am sure his memory remains in the hearts of Sweet Hometowners.

God bless all of you and keep up the great work!

Alex Paul

Sweet Home