Eugene Weekly plans to start printing again in February
The Eugene Weekly is planning to return to print Feb. 8, as it continues its recovery following an alleged embezzlement.
In December, the newspaper announced that it was in debt and had to lay off its entire newsroom. Editor-in-Chief Camilla Mortensen said an employee siphoned funds meant to pay vendors, retirement and the electric bill.
Since then, Mortensen estimates that the paper’s received over $150,000 in donations. Now, it’s re-hiring some essential staff, in the hopes of resuming weekly printing.
“This paper means a lot to me, this paper means a lot to the folks who work here, and this paper means a lot to this town,” she said. “And so it feels a little bit like jumping off a familiar cliff, that I really want this to work.”
Mortensen said print ad revenue will help the Weekly stand on its own financially, past the recent donation efforts. She said advertisers have been supportive of the comeback.
Retired arts editor and current contributor Bob Keefer said returning to print is also about sustaining the paper's 40-year legacy.
“Many of our readers don't have computers, don't have phones, don't care,” said Keefer. “And they want to see a product that they can hold in their hands.”
The skeleton crew includes Mortensen and three others who will provide graphic design, sales and tech support, respectively.
Mortensen said she hopes to gradually re-hire the other laid-off staff, but the paper needs to become more financially stable, as it's still facing monumental debt.
"A huge portion of this is not just getting the paper printed once or twice," said Mortensen, "but printing on-going down the road."
Since December, Mortensen said some laid-off staff members have moved onto other jobs. But others are still showing up to pitch in.
At the Weekly offices Friday, Reporter Emerson Brady worked on a documentary about the paper's recent struggles. She said it's for the fundraising effort.
Since Brady was laid off in December, she said she's applied for other part-time work to earn money. But she's still helping the Weekly when she can.
"I love my job, and I love my coworkers, and I think what we do here is important," said Brady. "And if they didn't have a reporter for the paper that's coming out—you know, that's a very key position."
Brady said she's confident that the Weekly leadership has her best interest in mind, and will pay her when they can.
"I'm certain that things will be okay," said Brady, "and everything will go back not to the way it was, but to something hopefully better."
Mortensen said stories are in production for the Feb. 8 issue. In the meantime, the publication is continuing to post on its website.
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