Willamette Week’s Fund For Local Journalism
Why Our Work Is Important
The world of local journalism is as unsettled as it’s ever been. This is as true in Portland as it is anywhere.
Nationally, more than 45 percent of newsroom jobs have been eliminated in the past 9 years. Layoffs and cutbacks among Oregon media institutions match those numbers, and are a cause for genuine concern. Local communities need reporters who shine lights where darkness prevails, who hold institutions’ feet to the fire, and who keep those in positions of power accountable.
This is what Willamette Week does — and why we could use your help.
From our inception in 1974, Willamette Week has kept Portland and Oregon on their toes. It is in our DNA to do this. We’ve exposed corruption at all levels of government and private enterprise. We are the only weekly newspaper in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Our reporting changes the trajectory of public life in this great city, in ways both large and small.
We believe it is essential to Portland’s — and Oregon’s — well-being that Willamette Week continue its in-depth investigative work.
Why We Need Your Support
From a business perspective, we are confronted with an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, WW’s journalism has never had greater impact. We have more readers — print and digital — than at any time in our history. At the same time, revenue from advertising dollars has not kept up. On top of that, the kinds of journalism Willamette Week produces are time-consuming and expensive.
That’s where you come in. Thanks to the Tides Foundation, we have a fiscal sponsor that makes your contributions fully tax-deductible.
What You Will Be Funding
In short: Independent and in-depth reporting at Oregon’s most respected source for investigative and enterprise news coverage.
• An analysis of why investigations of police misconduct go nowhere and remain secret.
• Our investigation into the highly unusual use of campaign funds, including on global travel, by Rep. Jennifer Williamson, the Democratic frontrunner for Oregon secretary of state. Because of our story, Williamson dropped out of the race.
• Our extensive COVID-19 coverage, including:
—Our interviews with frontline workers who confronted the pandemic, and the people who had close encounters with the virus each day.
—An examination of the political pressures that shaped Gov. Kate Brown’s decisions about closing down the state, and how Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler got the statewide lockdown he wanted.
—Our investigation into the location of the largest workplace outbreak of COVID-19 in Oregon, after state health officials wouldn’t release this information.
Our reporting led to a statewide policy change—requiring the disclosure of all workplace outbreaks that sickened at least 5 people—and illustrated the plight of migrant farm workers who were exposed to the virus while the state remained silent.
• Our attempt to crack the code of silence at Nike and wonder why smart and well-compensated Nike employees are showing so little concern about the how the company treats its female athletes. Two weeks after we published this story, Nike employees held a protest at World HQ.
• Our groundbreaking coverage on the rise of white nationalism in the Pacific Northwest.
• A sensitive and revealing profile of a Portland woman who cheated repeatedly in marathons across the country
• Our deep dive into Oregon’s foster care. First, a look at how a new law cracking down on foster care operators has created a number of unwelcome and unintended consequences. More recently, a profile of a minor miracle–a foster care program that appears to be working.
• A report on Portland’s car theft epidemic (we have the third highest rate of stolen cars in the nation) and how a loophole in state law is part of the problem. Our reporting pushed the Mayor and police bureau to take a closer look at the city’s towing policy and led to the introduction of legislation to close this loophole.
• Our detailed look back at the Portland killing of a black immigrant 30 years ago by white supremacists that has echoes in the violence that exists on the streets of Portland today.
• Our deep dive into the business of diabetes, how insulin costs are four times higher than prices in other developed countries and how two Oregonians are doing battle with insurance companies.
• An investigation of a Portland personal-injury lawyer who kept much of her client’s settlement money—showing how vulnerable people can be doubly victimized: first, injured in terrible accidents and, later, targeted by an unscrupulous attorney.
• A chilling profile of a prominent physician and best-selling author who believes that measles vaccinations may cause Autism. At a moment when the Northwest is suffering a measles epidemic, Dr. Paul Thomas is giving cover to thousands of Oregon parents who choose to avoid vaccines, thus jeopardizing the rest of Oregon’s youth.
• A stunning look at a state representative who has lucrative contracts from organizations that he helps secure funding for. It is an example of a perfectly legal but ethically corrupt scheme that earns state representative
Greg Smith more than three quarters of a million dollars a year.
• A deep dive into Portland Parks and Recreation, which is unable to keep many of its doors open, despite all the revenue that is available elsewhere in the city.
• A hard look at Portland’s “green” reputation and the ugly truth that we are more dependent on the car than ever and how Portland can and should rely less on the automobile.
These are just some examples of how the news team at WW gives thoughtful attention to the workings of our community’s core institutions. We believe that without this kind of serious local journalism, a place loses a sense of itself, and its purpose.
That’s why we appreciate your interest and hope you will support us. Our love for Portland — and our commitment to serious journalism — have never been stronger.
Fiscal Sponsor: The Tides Foundation is a philanthropic partner and nonprofit accelerator dedicated to building a world of shared prosperity and social justice. It serves as fiscal sponsor for Willamette Week’s Fund. That means your contributions are fully tax-deductible.