A farewell letter from the publisher: Thank you, Long Beach. See you soon, Oregon.
By David Sommers, Publisher,2023-03-22
There’s a time capsule well-hidden among the wildflower swaths and craggy andesite patches of the Upper Table Rock mesa outside Medford, Oregon.
It’s been tucked away up there for nearly a decade—a gift to my children of family mementos and valueless invaluable memories.
That time capsule also includes a letter I wrote to my kids about the type of life I hoped for them to lead one day: ethical, brave, kind, passionate, authentic with their words and commitments, loyal to friends and their communities, but above all, to embrace a willingness to take risks.
At the time, I was contemplating and ultimately did decide to leave the safety and security of a consistently steady public sector paycheck, with the golden handcuffs that vested civil service can sometimes create, and leap into the risks of a brand new professional unknown.
After burying that time capsule in Oregon, a series of serendipitous events played out over the next several years: I took a risk and left the safety of that job which then, eventually, led to me becoming the CEO and publisher of the Long Beach Post in 2018, with the addition of the Long Beach Business Journal in 2020.
In the next few weeks, my time in Long Beach will be coming to a close and I’ll be returning to Oregon. More specifically, I’m returning within a stone’s throw of that time capsule on Upper Table Rock to become the publisher of the Rogue Valley Times , serving Medford, Oregon and the Jackson County community.
This opportunity came about very quickly over the last few weeks as the family owners, company leaders and employees of Oregon-based EO Media Group swiftly stepped in and rapidly launched a replacement newsroom in the wreckage and wake of the former owner of the Medford Mail Tribune suddenly shutting down operations after over 100 years in publication and laying off all staff in mid-January.
It’s barely been one month since the Rogue Valley Times got its first print edition out, combined with an even more robust digital presence and impressive audience strategy beyond the print edition success. Already, thousands of paying print and digital subscribers have signed up, and many new advertisers and sponsors are fully embracing the new publication under the leadership of editor Dave Smigelski and my soon-to-be new colleagues.
Southern Oregon has multi-generational ties for my wife’s side of our family. We vacation there multiple times each year and plan to live in Ashland, a city about 10 miles south of Medford, and a stunningly charming town nestled against an urban forest, with world class public schools and home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Most importantly on the professional front for me, the long-term family ownership and company leaders of EO Media, their commitment to local news in communities across Oregon, the intentional and strategic plans for sustainability of their digital business, continuing to serve print audiences and rural communities, while also remaining fiercely independent and committed to the same values I have, were all appealing reasons that made it difficult to pass up the opportunity to return to Oregon.
Leaving Long Beach, though, certainly won’t be easy, but I would like to share my gratitude for the friends and mentors who have helped us grow along the way over the past five years.
Nationally, that includes my friends at the Local Media Association, colleagues at LION Publishers who have transformed the organization into an advocacy and entrepreneurial powerhouse, BlueLena and our Alliance for Sustainable Local News launch partners in Santa Cruz, Baltimore, Denver, Chicago and Memphis, with more communities and newsrooms to come.
Locally, thank you to those business, community and elected leaders who have embraced and respected the growth of our newsroom in Long Beach over the past five years. Thank you for the mutual understanding and professionalism of knowing our community and our residents are ultimately the beneficiaries when a robust local press exists, that the press and politicians and public agencies and officials do not work together, but do work in separate tandem to serve the same public for the same reasons.
Finally, a courtesy reminder to our civic leaders: Please remember, accountability is not an attack. Questions are not an inquisition. Public officials, publicly and taxpayer-funded organizations and public agencies need to understand that transparency is a virtue, not a vice. We are not out to get anyone; we do not have an agenda, except for getting to the truth on behalf of the readers and communities and mission we serve. We report news, not spin and not a version of what influential people and institutions might attempt to dictate as news. We work for the public, not public officials.
My last thank yous belong to those closest, the people I shared my news with personally in recent days: My partners on our leadership team and my wonderful colleagues at the Post and Business Journal. Thank you to John Molina for the visionary courage, philanthropic spirit and financial kickstart necessary as a catalyst to grow the Post from four employees in 2018 to 30 employees and a powerful national reputation in local journalism today.
Thank you to my brother and best friend Shaun Lumachi—I miss you terribly everyday but know you would be so thrilled to see your vision of the Long Beach Post still here 15 years later and thriving beyond your best expectations, even though I know you would have expected nothing less of me in service to our beloved Long Beach.
Above all, thank you to our community of advertisers, underwriters, donors, members and subscribers who financially support the Post and Business Journal— which you can do, too —your support helps fund a local independent business based in Downtown Long Beach, and you directly help create over two dozen good paying jobs in our city, with your investment in us staying right here in our community we serve and live in. Thank you for your support.
My partner and wife, Dr. Anne-Marie Pedersen, our kids Hazel and Aaron, thanks for supporting me all these years at the Long Beach Post and taking this risk with me on this new adventure for all of us. I promise the rewards are worth the risk and risks are always worth taking.
In the coming weeks, John Molina and the board of directors of Pacific Community Media, which owns the Post and Business Journal, will convene to discuss the future of the CEO position, along with interim leadership appointments. Until then, this news organization is in strong hands with our current leadership team from our corporate departments and editorial operations.
See you soon, Oregon. Thank you, Long Beach.
The post A farewell letter from the publisher: Thank you, Long Beach. See you soon, Oregon. appeared first on Long Beach Post .
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