Dear Eugene Weekly Readers,
Eugene Weekly is this town. We are who we are because we are the community’s paper, for better or for worse. We’ve sought to enlighten you. We’ve sought to entertain you. We’ve pissed you off, even when we didn’t mean to. And most of all, we have stood as this community’s alternative voice, a watchdog that speaks up to power on behalf of everyone.
We’re heartbroken to have to tell you that this independent voice is in danger of falling silent.
There will be no print paper edition of EW, for the first time in more than 20 years.
And we are fighting like hell to print another one.
Shortly before Christmas, we discovered that EW had been the victim of embezzlement at the hands of someone we once trusted. We are still counting up the damage, but it’s thousands upon thousands. The theft of EW’s funds remained hidden for years and has left our finances in shambles. A team of private forensic accountants is analyzing our books and accounts. We’ve reported the thefts to the Eugene Police Department, which is conducting an investigation.
We’ve discovered that many companies we do business with — vendors who turned out to be very patient — haven’t been paid in months. EW employees who thought they were paying into retirement accounts have learned the money never arrived at its destination. We had to lay off the entire 10-person staff EW three days before Christmas. One of our biggest creditors, our printer, says it will print EW again only if we pay upfront.
The damage is more than most small businesses can bear. The scale of this moment is unlike anything we have ever faced. But we believe in this newspaper’s mission and we remain determined to keep EW alive.
We have been dedicated to staying local and staining your hands with inky newsprint 52 weeks a year for 40 years.
From the Weekly’s founding in 1982 to surviving the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when we never stopped printing, our hard-working journalists, artists and staff have kept the Weekly going. EW has been one of the few print newspapers that has managed to stay in business supported entirely by print advertising. Throughout everything, we have continued to print 30,000 copies each week that appear — for free — each Thursday in our bright red boxes around town.
Despite the support — and the love — of ownership, staff and community, we found ourselves struggling financially over the last few years. The local owners — who have never taken a profit — have poured money into the paper to cover costs when money ran short. We reduced pages. We even stopped printing the horoscope. Each time we had to make changes, we heard your complaints and resolved to find a way forward.
Still, we found ourselves struggling financially. Now we know why.
By necessity, EW has always run on trust. Trust that our readers would pick up the paper. Trust that our advertisers would pay their bills. Trust that our staff would do their honest best. And, until now, that trust has been vindicated. We should have had tighter financial systems. We have learned a hard lesson.
Several EW staffers are showing up to keep publishing the paper online. We ask for your patience as we work to restore EW to the newspaper you love.
The newspaper that brings you Happening People, profiles of extraordinary folks in our community.
The one that highlights the Best of Eugene.
The newspaper that publishes obituaries for the unhoused.
The newspaper that celebrates the arts, covering everything from the symphony and art galleries to punk shows and Suspish’s graffiti art.
The newspaper that remains edgy, publishing Savage Love and opinion pieces that run counter to your point of view.
The newspaper that has photographed everyone from the Dalai Lama to to Donald Trump.
And that newspaper with its award-winning investigative reporting has lived up to its mission statement by exposing “corporate practices and public policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many.”
We have tried to make our community a better place in which to live, one story at a time.
Like you, we love this paper. We are heartbroken. But we are fighting.
James Bateman, tech and web
Todd Cooper, art director
Camilla Mortensen, editor
Rob Weiss, sales