University of Oregon journalism chair asks Gannett to donate The Eugene Register-Guard to the school


In the January 2023 issue of Editor & Publisher Magazine, E&P featured an article about Dr. Peter Laufer's book, “Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer,” and the subsequent film documentary "Slow News" that speaks to how media companies chasing "clicks" in a digital age has led to the erosion of quality journalism and the public’s trust.

However, what this professor of journalism and James N. Wallace Chair of Journalism at the University of Oregon was chasing was a personal dream to save the local cities newspaper — The Eugene (OR) Register-Guard.

In a recent article for the local weekly entitled "How to Save the 'Guarded-Register, ' Dr. Laufer writes, "We in Eugene are witnessing the slow murder of our daily newspaper. But maybe, just maybe, what’s rapidly becoming too thin to wrap fish and line the bird cage, can still be saved." He goes on to state, "When what's now the Gannett Company — the corporate monster that owns more U.S. newspapers than any other — bought the R-G, butchery began: de facto pink slips to venerable reporters and editors and photographers in the form of buyouts, and local news coverage replaced with outdated reporting from elsewhere via Gannett’s USA TODAY network.”

Dr. Laufer also recently published an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed entitled "A Plan to Save the Daily Paper." He told the story of how he approached Gannett to explore the idea of having his students take over the newspaper writing. Within the piece, he reports that he began the process by calling CEO Mike Reed and was connected to Amalie Nash, the Gannett senior vice president of local news and audience development, who performed a “gracious” entrée to Gannett’s senior vice president for corporate development, Jay Fogarty.

Laufer states that Fogarty wrote a note to him saying that “the Register-Guard is a paper we plan to own and operate long-term." However, in a subsequent phone conversation about the idea of offering the paper to the University, Laufer writes that Fogarty said, "I'm all for it when the paper stops making money. Glad we're talking. But at this point, it does make some money."

In this 173rd episode of “E&P Reports,” we go one-on-one with Peter Laufer, Ph.D., an award-winning journalist, professor of journalism, James N. Wallace Chair of Journalism at the University of Oregon and author of "Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer." We ask Laufer about his recent campaign to get Gannett to donate the city’s paper of record, The Eugene Register-Guard, to the school and his views on the media industry today.


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