Can’t believe it’s already the weekend, eh? Neither can I. Here are some stories from other publications (and a couple of my own) for your consideration this weekend.
Every two years, the Pew Research Center updates its series of fact sheets on the state of the U.S. media. Here’s a spoiler alert: Overall, it’s not a pretty picture. The center recently published six key takeaways about the state of the media in 2020. Here’s the one that caught my eye: For the first time, newspapers made more revenue from circulation than from advertising. It’s not so much that circulation revenue has been booming, although it’s been holding steady. It’s more that advertising revenue in newspapers has dropped some $80 billion since 2010.
Speaking of Pew, its religion desk (I don’t know if that’s what they call it, but you know what I mean) has issued a couple of intriguing recent repors: It turns out that highly religious adults are much more skeptical about the possibility of extraterrestrial life compared with those who are less religious. I don’t know what that means, but toss it out at your next coffee date and see if it triggers some conversation. Pew also recently reported that Americans appear to be growing more skeptical about how much of a difference churches and other houses of worship make in tackling issues of social concern: About 4 in 10 Americans now say religious institutions make little or no interest in this area. This is a worrisome trend, but it’s not unexpected, as our faith in institutions of all sorts has been eroding for decades.
Kudos to The Oregonian/OregonLive, OPB and ProPublica for winning the 2021 John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism for its series of stories about how Wall Street real estate trusts and investment funds began gaining control over the state’s private forestlands — and how timber towns were left in the lurch. The series, “The Cutting: Investigating Industrial Logging in Oregon,” makes a compelling case that the narrative we’re all familiar with — that cutbacks in logging on federal forests and stronger environmental regulations were the leading culprit in devastating rural timber communities — doesn’t tell the entire story. The investigation found that private investors “profited at the expense of rural communities by logging more aggressively with fewer environmental protections than in neighboring states, while reaping the benefits of timber tax cuts that have cost counties at least $3 billion in the past three decades.”
As Corvallis and other communities around the state struggle with houselessness, there are some emerging signs of hope: Here’s an OPB story about Project Turnkey, the Oregon Community Foundation-funded effort to convert motels around the state into transitional housing sites. The program has had an impact in Corvallis, where Corvallis Housing First has converted the former Budget Inn in South Corvallis into transitional housing. The story quotes Andrea Myhre, the director of Corvallis Housing First.
It’s a little old — The New York Times posted it last Saturday — but here’s a story about Joseph Mercola, a Florida-based osteopathic physician, who regulators say is perhaps the most influential spreader of cororanvirus misinformation online.
Looking for something lighter? I can’t blame you. So here’s an essay from The Atlantic’s Spencer Korhhaber about why “The Mandalorian” could be the best live-action “Star Wars” product to arrive since the early 1980s. Here’s one key, Kornhaber writes: It’s not so much about story. It’s about this unique place that George Lucas created, well, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
And don’t forget my story on this year’s Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, which got underway Friday night but has three more concerts on the schedule.