Your Weekend Reader for Feb. 11-12

by | Feb 11, 2023 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Another week, another unidentified object flying in American airspace shot down. What else is new?

Well, the continuing realignment in college athletics is back in the news, what with the (long-expected) announcement that Texas and Oklahoma will be moving to the SEC in 2024. The news might have made you wonder something along these lines: “Gosh, I haven’t heard much about the Pac-12 lately. I wonder what’s up.”

Well, our friends at The Athletic have a fresh report out this week that boils down to these points: Seven months after the conference — reeling from the loss of USC and UCLA to the Big 10, beginning in 2024 — opened negotiations for its next media-rights contract, there’s still no deal. One possible reason for that, sources told The Athletic, is that “commissioner George Kliavkoff is struggling to find partners willing to pay close to what the league is seeking.” Fox isn’t interested in the Pac-12, now that it’s bagged its big Big 10 deal. NBC and CBS aren’t interested. ESPN does have some interest in the conference, particularly its 7:30 p.m. Pacific games, but the Pac-12 and ESPN are millions of dollars apart, multiple sources said. Some writers have speculated that the Pac-12 might sell its media rights to a streaming service like Amazon, which has shown a willingness to drop big bucks for sporting events.

In the meantime, two schools appear to be in the front seat for potential Pac-12 expansion — San Diego State and Southern Methodist University. In fact, Kliavkoff visited SMU on Thursday; he tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid the prying eyes of the media.

A measure in the Oregon Legislature, House Bill 2605, seeks to aid Oregon journalism by funding a nonprofit resource center to give emergency grants and other support to local journalists and newsrooms. It also would create a workgroup to produce a report by November 2024 about the state of the journalism industry in Oregon and develop recommendations for potential policy changes or funding. The bill calls for giving grants to the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon and the Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism to facilitate the local journalism resource center.  This story from the Oregon Capital Chronicle details the proposal and includes comments from Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin about the Gazette-Times and Democrat-Herald. (Full disclosure: The Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism is spearheaded by the East Oregonian Media Group, for which I do freelance work.)

Two other quick notes about Oregon journalism: The Capital Chronicle story also mentioned another bill, House Bill 3167, which would allow the publication of public notices — an important public service and a key revenue source for local newspapers — in newspaper e-editions, which are essentially PDF versions of printed newspaper pages. Most print newspapers also feature these e-editions. The key change here, as I see it, waives the requirement that a newspaper must have been published for at least 12 months before it can print the notices. This would allow, for example, either the new newspaper started by EO Media to fill the gap left by the Medford Mail Tribune or, in theory, the Grants Pass Daily Courier, which has announced plans to expand its coverage to cover Jackson County, to compete for those ads. Also, I bet you didn’t know that the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association has a site that collects all the public notice ads from throughout the state.

And speaking of the University of Oregon, a professor of journalism there has launched a campaign to convince the newspaper chain Gannett, the owner of the Eugene Register-Guard, to hand over the newspaper to the university. In a conversation with Editor & Publisher magazine, the professor, Peter Laufer, describes the effort as “arrogance, combined with civic responsibility, bomb-throwing and a carnival act,” but it might pay off in the long run: A Gannett executive told Laufer that he might be for the idea when the paper stopped making money: “But at this point,” the executive said, “it does make some money.” Gannett likely doesn’t report financial results for its individual papers, but my guess is that even through Gannett continues to bleed money, the Register-Guard probably turns a surprisingly good margin. Regardless, the gutting of the Register-Guard has been one of the saddest stories in recent Oregon journalism.

When I was working at the Democrat-Herald, I frequently had occasion to write about Albany City Councilor Ray Kopczynski; we didn’t always agree, but I admired his ideas and his energy. So when I read that a Albany council member was behind an effort to install an old disconnected rotary telephone along a city trail to encourage people to “call” lost loved ones, my first guess was that Kopczynski was likely behind it. Not to brag or anything, but yeah: Here’s Shayla Escudero’s report in the G-T and D-H about the phone — a terrific idea, by the way.

I’ve been long-winded this week, so here are a few quick hitters to take us to the break:

Here’s The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis with a funny piece about life on Radio Row the week before the Super Bowl.

Here’s a piece from Timothy Keller in The Atlantic about how Christianity, in decline for decades in the United States, could mount a comeback. At the risk of a spoiler, here’s his conclusion: “If the Church aims at loving service to one’s neighbor while clearly speaking the truth, it will grow again and may have cultural influence. But if it aims at influence rather than humble service, it will have neither. “

You may be playing pickleball, but if you’re not in proper pickleball attire when you’re on the court, people may think you’re just an amateur. The New York Times has you covered with this story about the latest in pickleball fashion. (Like all Times stories, this one is available only to subscribers, but I can send you a “gift” link if you leave your email address in the comments below. Or if you don’t want the world to know you play pickleball and are interested in fashion, email me at [email protected] to ask for the link.)

That’s it for this this weekend. In the meantime, I’ll see you on the pickleball court. I’ll be the one in the neon green dress.

 

Looking for something to do in the mid-valley? Check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.

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