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By Finn J.D. John
May Day Eve, 2024

Hello and welcome! I shan't waste time, you're here for some info about Offbeat Oregon History, so here it comes.

I created this site and the column service for several reasons:

First off, everybody needs a hobby, and if you happen to be an old newspaper guy, you also need a deadline every now and then to keep you sharp ... or, at any rate, I sure do. (This is why I don't charge for anything. Once you start making money off something, much of the fun goes out of it.)

Secondly, I find this stuff fascinating. I've been writing these columns since September of 2008, cranking out one every week at first and then dropping back to once a month after 2020. My current count is about 650 columns, and I'm still nowhere near running out of material.

Since I took my current position on the teaching faculty of the New Media Communications department at Oregon State University, it's developed much more of an educational angle. I'm now using it as a live demonstration/exploration project for New Media franchise development as well as a public-history project — a source of educational materials for interested Oregonians.

But the first purpose of Offbeat Oregon History, when I launched it 16 years ago, was and still is to provide a service to community newspapers. I started this project to solve a problem that I found myself faced with from time to time when I was editor of a small community newspaper. Specifically, writers or story subjects would flake out, holes would appear in the paper and if the publisher was skating right up to the ad-edit ratio required by the post office or the ABC folks, a last-minute house ad was not an option.

The smoking hole would end up being filled with who-cared-what, which I always hated. Readers didn't seem too crazy about it either. And it made me look bad to my boss (the publisher or general manager).

If you should happen to be a community newspaper editor or radio station manager, and you ever find yourself in a similar position, I hope that I can help.

Articles free to publish:

On last Sunday of each month, a fresh article is released to my e-mail list of Oregon community newspapers and radio stations. These articles are exclusively for the use of the newspapers they're sent to, and are not released in any other form until 60 days after I send them out. Articles are not posted on this Web site (or anywhere else) until at least 60 days after they've hit your "in box."

Of course, if you're in a pickle, any article on this site can be used free of charge in any newspaper or other publication — print, broadcast or on-line — or anything else, really. Once posted on this archive site, they come under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (details are here).

If you're not on the e-mail list for some crazy reason, but would like to be, please let me know so I can start sending you the fresh stuff!

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In "reader view" some phone browsers truncate the story here, algorithmically "assuming" that the second column is advertising. (Most browsers do not recognize this page as mobile-device-friendly; it is designed to be browsed on any device without reflowing, by taking advantage of the "double-tap-to-zoom" function.) If the story ends here on your device, you may have to exit "reader view" (sometimes labeled "Make This Page Mobile Friendly Mode") to continue reading. We apologize for the inconvenience.]

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Your friendly neighborhood pop historian, Finn J.D. John, surveys his demesnes from the passenger seat of a friendly Edwardian lady's Zeppelin. (This is a painting titled "Future Air Travel" by Harry Dart, cover art for a 1908 issue of All Story Magazine, with my mug Photoshopped in of course!)

Subscribing to the list:

If your publication qualifies, I'll gladly add you to my weekly e-mail subscribers list. There's no charge and no obligation of any kind. Here's how it works:

1. On the last Sunday of each month, a fresh copy of the column shows up in your in-box.

2. You publish it or don't, as your news needs dictate.

3. There is no charge, but you do have to agree not to "sublet" the column to another publication. For instance, if your company owns a small weekly and a nearby big daily, you can't transfer the column rights to the big daily. This is because ...

4. The e-mail service for this column is intended for newspapers without access to a wire service.

Why is this? Basically, because non-AP papers are the ones that sometimes need something like this. And because if you're the owner of a newspaper in, say, Veneta, you're not going to be very happy to see an article you counted on for next week's paper appearing in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Exceptions to this "non-AP-only" clause are made on a case-by-case basis, usually for AP members who do not serve markets covered by non-AP publications. (There are also a couple cases of accidental inclusions, newspapers that were added to the list early in the process, which I can't "uninvite.")

5. After 60 days have passed, the column will be published on this Web site and made available to all publishers, AP members or not, and on this Web site.

Online-only news services:

The same deal applies. This won't be a surprise if you're familiar with what I teach, but I don't recognize any important difference between on-line and newsprint delivery systems. Also, if you have a blog or podcast that provides news services, this means you too. Really, we all have to come to grips with the fact that the value of what we do is in the news service, not in the printing or broadcasting. And speaking of broadcasting:

Radio and TV stations:

If you have a small community radio station or video-news service, I'll gladly add you to the list. I am a huge believer in small community broadcasting. Also, you're welcome to edit the content in any way you need to to make it more broadcast-friendly.

To get more info:

Contact me by e-mail at [finn_j *at* offbeatoregon *dot* com ].



Background image is a hand-tinted photo of the then-new railroad lines along the Deschutes River, from a postcard published circa 1915.
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