[Editor: Now, you may be wondering why in the world Silicon Florist would be posting a story that besmirches Oregon. That’s right. I said “besmirch.” Well, fact is, I’m not. But it’s that selfsame titling that sparked a response post from Mitch Daugherty. And he and I both thought that this little grenade might elicit a response from you, as well. So without further ado…]
I was perusing the news feeds this morning and I saw that title, which led to a story on OregonLive with the following title: “What are Oregon’s ‘most miserable’ towns? Census data gives us insights.”
Over the past year via Built Oregon, we have talked about relationships, successes, failures, rural, urban, and Oregon entrepreneurship. But at the core of all we have done is a focus on community. A community of likeminded people from different industries, backgrounds, economic level, and locations. A community of people that have stories to tell. A community of supporters who see Oregon as more than a bunch of silos. A community that believes that what happens in places like Klamath Falls has an effect on what happens in Portland.
We are all connected in this incredible state we call home.
So when I read a title like that from the main news sources in the state, it makes me angry. But more than angry, it simply makes me frustrated.
I’m frustrated because it’s what has unfortunately become of many news outlets. It’s a list, a gallery, a way to get clicks. (Much like we got you to click on this story. I mean, turnabout being fair play and whatnot.) A way to get comments and “engagement” because of the nature of the post. It’s a way to say this story is relevant because of the metrics.
All at the expense of the good people in these cities and towns. It encourages comments that… well, you can just read a few of them.
In the story the journalist admits that much of this information come from a site that is more “infotainment” so take the report with “a grain of salt.”
I’d rather not. The only salt I’m interested in is Jacobsen’s.
Let’s just be honest, by giving that site’s content the Oregon Live platform, you are legitimizing their information. I don’t know Laura Frazier and I’m fairly certain that her intentions weren’t negative. It’s the reality of trying to engagement and clicks online. I get it. But what I’d like to encourage her, and the staff at the Oregonian/OregonLive to do is spend some time in these places around the state.
Here are some suggestions:
- Meet with the people at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls and hear about all the incredible things they are working on.
- Chat with the leaders of RAIN and Fertilab to learn about all the things happening in Springfield.
- Drop a note to the good folks at EDCO to get some insights into the activity happening in Madras.
- Meet up with the Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon SBDC, and the many other support organizations around the state. Ask them about these rural and underrepresented communities around Oregon. I think you’ll find there are challenges, but an incredible amount of positive momentum too.
The list can go on and on.
I’d like to encourage the fine folks at the Oregonian/OregonLive to spend some time and in these cities and towns. Get to know the people and these communities before you add their town to a gallery of ‘miserable’ places.
Clicks and comments matter. Again, we get it. But here’s hoping we can create richer conversations by spending a bit more time building relationships.
Let me know if you need an intro. I’d be happy to connect you.
Mitch Daugherty is the cofounder of Morange Design, Built Oregon, and is the past Board Chair of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. In his free time, he also manages to mentor startups for PIE. His passion for branding, storytelling, Oregon entrepreneurship, Arizona State University, and the Portland Timbers can be witnessed on twitter @pdxmitch.
(Image courtesy Ian Sane. Used under Creative Commons.)
[Full disclosure: Rick Turoczy is one of the cofounders of Built Oregon.]