2012: The year in local news

By Andrew Cutler December 31, 2012 03:56 pm

Regular readers of the La Grande Observer should have noticed a little extra something in today’s paper with the addition of our year-end special section. 

Every year, the Observer’s sister paper, the Baker City Herald, has done the year-end edition, but, as I understand it, this is the first time the La Grande Observer has tackled the special section in several years.

In my opinion, it is worth the wait. 

Basically, the section is a short, to-the-point overview of some of the best stories and significant events that occurred locally in the La Grande area. We added some sports stuff in there as well for good measure.

The section was handled, for the most part, by Observer sportswriter Casey Kellas and Observer news clerk Lisa Kelly. The duo tackled selecting the stories and building the section, and both, in my opinion, did a great job in bringing everything together. 

For me, the section was good to see as a way to see what events transpired prior to my arrival in November. It was pretty obvious that their was no shortage of news in the La Grande area in 2012 — both good and bad. From Brianna Louden’s appearance on “The Price is Right” on Jan. 18 to EOU senior linebacker Howard McDonald being selected to the 2012 American Football Coaches AFCA NAIA Coaches’ All-America Team in December, the section lived up to its very core goal: to celebrate and take notice of the past year.

No doubt, 2012 was a challenging year for the La Grande Observer, just as it was for almost any other business in America. The nation remains bogged down with a sluggish economy and the geniuses in Washington have us on the precipice of tumbling over the dreaded “Fiscal Cliff.”

Probably the biggest change for this newspaper was the decision to drop to three issues a week. The paper decided on that course of action during the summer, and, while the Observer staff certainly did not welcome the move, it was understood that the move was what was best for business.

In a perfect world, of course, we would like to publish seven days a week. But, unfortunately, it isn’t a perfect world. We live in a world where we have to address each challenge in the most effective way we can.

Yet, the La Grande Observer remains a viable element to this community, and, despite the constant rhetoric that spills out on TV and radio airwaves and in other print media, small-town newspapers are still important and vibrant.

Far from looking at the past year as a negative, we’ve turned potential challenges into methods of success.

We are fortunate, I believe, to be owned by a company, Western Communications, that takes its commitment to small-town journalism so seriously.

As an editor in this chain, it is gratifying to know that those who are in the decision-making roles believe, as we do, that small-town journalism has a bright future.

I don’t see the past year as anymore more than a tremendous learning experience for this newspaper and myself.

I hope that trend continues into the future.