Category Archives: Media


1957 Fall Creek fire

I stepped outdoors on a Sunday night six decades ago and began reporting my first story for The Eugene Register-Guard.

My official start date in the news department wasn’t until 7 the next morning, June 17, 1957.

As I scanned the skyline, I noticed a reddish glow south of Springfield much like those I had chased for a year while editing two weekly newspapers in Missouri and the previous three editing the weekly in Hood River, Oregon.

My first telephone call was to the Springfield Fire Department where a dispatcher said that a Fall Creek mill was on fire.

My second call was to City Editor Dan Sellard, who apparently wasn’t home. The next call was to Managing Editor Herb Baker, who also apparently wasn’t home.

Knowing no one else to call, I climbed in my car and drove 12 miles south until I located the Fall Creek Lumber Co. There I found stacks of lumber ablaze. Continue reading THE CHALLENGE REMAINS WITH PASSING OF THE GUARD


My heart skipped a beat when I picked up the newspaper Monday morning and read: Longtime UO journalism professor dies.

“Must be Karl Nestvold” was my first thought. The 84-year-old former professional
wheelerbroadcaster devoted 36 years as a journalism teacher and administrator at the University of Oregon.

At age 88, I was the only other oldtimer I could think of as I read the five words at the top of the front page. Couldn’t be me, however, because I was standing there in my underwear.

Turns out to be Tom Wheeler, who continued to teach at age 70. Died Saturday in the Bay area. He was an expert in electric guitar history and was a popular guest speaker in classes I taught during my tenure at the School of Journalism and Communication.

He was a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, published seven books and one textbook and helped design the PRS Signature guitar. He also played guitar with The Blue Valentines, a five-piece rock-n’-roll band.

I find my perspective changes and sharpens as I prepare “to shuffle off this mortal coil, to walk into the sunset, to meet my maker.” Continue reading OVER THE HILL WE MUST GO ALONG WITH NEWSPAPERS


The art of interviewing seldom has been more effectively practiced in journalistic circles or taught in university classrooms than by a guy I have seen in action for more than a half-century.

After 43 years as a part-time instructor, Mike Thoele has retired from theThoele_Mike-263x263 University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication faculty.

His contributions of helping students learn how to craft questions and to conduct interviews as well as how to write news and feature stories merit mention as he and his wife Sandy concentrate on retirement.

I knew Mike first when he joined “The Register-Guard” as the bureau chief covering news in the Junction City area. Meanwhile, he, Sandy and their three children built a large log house in the woods in the Cheshire area and became an integral part of the community.

Mike worked more than 20 years at “The Register-Guard,” including a stint as city editor and eight years as the paper’s roving reporter, writing stories based on interviews with people throughout Oregon and the Northwest. Continue reading MIKE THOELE MASTERED ART OF THE INTERVIEW


I liken my six-month Facebook experience to a trek through a never-ending garage sale.

Even though much of the stuff is second-hand, I consider the daily shopping tour worthwhile.

For example, Facebook keeps track and alerts me when my “friends” searchcelebrate a birthday. Unfortunately, my secret will be splashed across hundreds of screens when April rolls around. That is, unless my mug shot and vitals first appear in the obituary section of a newspaper.

The greatest Facebook blessings are photos of family members that show up there regularly, especially those taken of my great-grandchildren by their tech-savvy parents. (I worry, however, that someone will see photos of those beautiful kids and kidnap them.)

The second greatest blessing has been discovering many of my former students, most of whom are retired and are visiting exotic Continue reading FACEBOOK EXPERIENCE LIKE GARAGE-SALE SHOPPING

No wonder we feel sick viewing so much bleeding

“If it bleeds, it leads” is an axiom that journalists follow in selecting news for display on page one of a newspaper and to lead broadcast PAPER BUNDLEnews shows. We know this practice sells newspapers and increases broadcast viewership. Unfortunately, watching this stuff can make you sick.

No wonder that we feel yukkie after watching and re-watching videos of bombings, beheadings, shootings, beatings, etc., especially when we watch and watch and watch the same scene again and again. You don’t have to be a psychologist to guess at the results.

In a national survey of 2,500 Americans, one in four admitted to feeling a great deal of stress in the previous month and blamed news as one of the reasons for the stress. It’s like a scab on your arm. You pick at it until it bleeds.

Doctors Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen reported this and other survey results and suggested how to combat this maladay in their mid-June newspaper column. Their two leading suggestions:

First, Watch it once. Then turn it off.

Second, Better yet, get your news the old-fashioned way by reading a newspaper.

We know that we’re drawn to bad news. We tend to share what went wrong at the office with a spouse at the end of a work day. We describe how our vacations were marred by unexpected events. Continue reading No wonder we feel sick viewing so much bleeding