Oregon Capital Chronicle is 2 years old and stronger than ever

October 11, 2023 5:30 am

The Oregon Capital Chronicle is two years old and getting stronger by the day. (Porapak Apichodilok/EyeEm/Getty Images)

It’s official: We’re now 2 years old and striding into our third year covering Oregon politics and policymaking and watchdogging state spending of your hard-earned dollars.

When we launched the Capital Chronicle in October 2021, the pandemic was still raging and Oregon faced a heap of problems. The biggest still fester today, and some are even worse. The drug epidemic. Homelessness. Stagnant education performance. Intensifying climate patterns. And a persistent mental health crisis that puts Oregon among the lowest rankings nationwide.

We’re covering it all, and as a nonprofit, without a paywall or ads. We don’t take corporate dollars and don’t accept commentaries from elected leaders. We give our stories away to readers and other news outlets. Every month, there are nearly 100 pickups of our stories around the state. 

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When our website launched, we were sorely needed. The Salem press corps had grown lean over the years, and it has continued to shrink. In recent weeks, two veteran reporters have moved on. Gary Warner of EOMedia took another job covering the military, and Andrew Selsky of the Associated Press retired after a long, impressive career. 

Today, few media organizations have more than one reporter permanently focused on the statehouse, and many have none. We have two – reporter Ben Botkin and deputy editor Julia Shumway, our lead politics reporter. A third Capital Chronicle reporter, Alex Baumhardt, keeps her eye on state education and environmental developments.

There’s been plenty to cover, especially in the last year. In the general election, voters choose some newcomers in the Legislature, three newcomers to serve in Washington, D.C. and a new governor. Tina Kotek faced two competitors, with stiff competition from Republican Christine Drazan, who stuffed her campaign chest with outside donations and big bucks from Oregonians, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who threw his weight behind Drazan when it became clear that Betsy Johnson, who ran as nonaffiliated, wouldn’t win.

We rose to the challenge and even teamed up with other newsrooms – the Albany Democrat-Herald, Ashland News, Mail Tribune, Salem Reporter and Yachats News – to provide more comprehensive coverage than we could have done alone.

The long session also gobbled up our time, as we watched the sausage-making and dished up the meatiest bits for readers. It also dragged – Republican Senate protest anyone? – for six weeks, with Democrats partially backing down. They still passed a bill guaranteeing access to gender-affirming care and another banning ghost guns, which can’t be traced. 

With extra dollars to spend, they approved several big ticket items: more than $500 million for the semiconductor industry, $200 million for housing and shelters and $140 million for literacy.

They adopted a watered down rent control bill, and Oregonians can now pump their own gas.

Lawmakers criminalized fentanyl possession – again – but implementation of Oregon’s drug decriminalization law, Measure 110, stumbles forward.

We continue to track that and government implementation of big programs like the literacy package that Kotek heralded.

In June, Baumhardt published a three-part series on the reasons behind the state’s disgraceful reading and writing scores. She discovered that many teachers aren’t taught how best to teach reading and until that happens, Oregon’s kids’ are likely to lag. 

We’ll have more on that in the coming months: You won’t want to miss it. We’re also gearing up for another big election year. Plenty is at stake, including the balance of power in Washington, D.C., with Oregon in the limelight.

Please help us with your hard-earned contributions. We spend every dollar on our mission of informing voters so that they elect good leaders. In the end, we all benefit. But we can’t do it without you.

Please donate.

We appreciate you all,

Lynne Terry, editor-in-chief

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years.