Last week the Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism celebrated its two-year anniversary and advocated for the passage of House Bill 2605 at Hollinshead Barn in Bend on May 11. Since its founding in 2021, FORJ has rapidly become a leading advocate for rural journalism in Oregon and around the nation.
The anniversary celebration brought together elected officials, community leaders, journalists and supporters of journalism to celebrate the importance of local journalism and elevate the visibility of journalism issues in Oregon, including:
- More than 50 percent of Oregon’s incorporated cities now lack a local news source.
- More than 25 percent of Oregon’s small-town newspapers have closed.
- Access to civic participation in Oregon is at risk with journalism’s decline.
During the event, guests were invited to show their support for local journalism and House Bill 2605 by adding their names to an electronic sign-on letter. Oregon’s House Bill 2605 is sponsored by 18 state legislators and is currently under review with the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. If passed, the innovative bill will provide one-time funding of $2.9 million to FORJ and Agora Journalism Center to establish tools that will sustain and revitalize local journalism in Oregon, including through a journalism resource center that would be operated by the nonprofit.
More than 160 supporters of journalism have added their names to the Oregon HB 2605 Sign-on Letter and FORJ invites all Oregonians to learn about the bill and add their names to the sign-on letter at bit.ly/support2605. If the bill passes, news organizations around Oregon will be invited to apply for a grant to directly support their newsroom.
“We have the tools to revitalize and sustain journalism in our state,” said Jody Lawrence-Turner, the executive director of FORJ, at the anniversary event. “The solution to the decline of journalism is building partnerships and community engagement around journalism. And as you look around this room, you can see that we are building the partnerships between journalism and community that will be the key to our success.”
FORJ was founded by EO Media Group to harness innovative strategies that provide the support rural newsrooms need to thrive now and for decades into the future. Two EO Media Group owners and Chief Operating Officer Heidi Wright attended the anniversary event.
“FORJ is developing resources to support community news publications to utilize tech innovations, shift their business model, and transform themselves into newsrooms of the future,” said Wright. “It is our goal to serve as a leading voice – not of doom and gloom about the decline of journalism – but as a champion of solutions that really do have the power to stem the tide and evolve into a sustainable business that employs community-based journalists throughout Oregon, especially in the most vulnerable rural parts of the state. HB 2605 is a key part of those solutions.”
Visit forjournalism.org to learn more about how FORJ is revitalizing local journalism and to sign the letter of support for HB 2605.
About the Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism:
The Fund for Oregon Rural Journalism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by EO Media Group in 2021 to stem the tide of the decline of journalism in Oregon by providing tangible resources, training and tools that local publications need to thrive. FORJ is on the leading edge of journalism advocacy in America, providing innovative solutions that work, including three core programs: the FORJournalism Resource Center, Future Journalists of America and the Journalism Lab. FORJ is led by media professionals with decades of experience operating successful rural and metro news organizations.