Last Monday, The Corvallis Gazette-Times took the word of three fired Advocate Associate Editors, and a small posse of their cadre, that this newspaper is willfully not paying its writers and has no desire to do so. The Gazette-Times also disclosed The Advocate’s confidential banking information in a photo of a check to one of the writers.
Current Associate Editor Johnny Beaver said, “Bennett Hall was apparently too lazy to check his facts, as aside from Steve, no attempt to contact anyone who was on staff at the time was made. I was actually physically present when Ygal Kaufman and Patrick Fancher were let go.” The Gazette-Times reported that Kaufman, Fancher and Singer denied being fired.
Corvallis Advocate Publisher Steven Schultz said, “It became apparent to me in late 2014 just how badly Kaufman, Fancher and Singer had mismanaged The Advocate as editors, so I started things in motion to take over its daily operations, which I finally completed in early 2015.” Schultz added, “I’ve had business problems before, but nothing like this. It took my office manager six months just to reconstruct the books, and even now we’ll sometimes uncover new information. Additionally, we’re still apologizing to artists for Kaufman’s treatment of them while he was writing the 8 Days column.”
The Advocate has made no secret of its financial struggles or why its founder returned to daily operations. Schultz says, “The first things I did when I took back over was that I retained only the most dedicated people, and put the paper on a serious budgetary diet.” The Advocate has been a conscientious payer since, and has also managed to pay off over 20 percent of old debt — none of which was reported by The Gazette-Times, either.
The Gazette-Times story also stated that Schultz threatened to initiate bankruptcy proceedings for The Corvallis Advocate, LLC. Confirming this, Schultz said, “It’s not something I would like to do, but of course it is a possibility. The GT declared one not long ago. They have emerged from it, and such a move would protect our ongoing operation and present staff.”
Earlier this month, The Advocate reported appointing a new Managing Editor so that Schultz could focus on increasing the paper’s institutional resources. Schultz confided, “Plans are also underway for a spring pledge drive, much of which will go to further reducing debt, and we are of course seeking to increase our advertising revenue, which also helps to pay debt.”
Gazette-Times Bankruptcy and Business: Our Editorial Position
Let’s recall that The Gazette-Times’ Iowa-based parent company declared an actual bankruptcy and then paid their own CEO a $500,000 bonus when it was discharged. The Corvallis Advocate, LLC has actively worked to avoid bankruptcy, wishing instead to develop ad and pledge revenue to pay its debts. However, the differences between the GT and The Advocate are deeper than this.
Public Good Over Profit
The Gazette-Times no longer puts its resources into some of the harder stories that we are willing to do as a weekly. It is us that reported on Good Sam Hospital’s abysmal health grades and unfair (and foreseeably lethal) staffing practices, we outed the coal trains in our own backyard, we’ve given voice to small businesses screwed by landlords. We continue detailing the homeless treated like social service NPO grant chattel, we suss when local office candidates are red handed cowering and lying…. and, most recently it was The Advocate that delved deepest into the suicide at the Children’s Farm Home, coming away with reporting no other news source had.
Just before that, GT sister newspaper, Albany Democrat-Herald declined to report on Officer Ryon McHuron, who was unfairly drummed out of his job as a cop — even though their own veteran reporter with 25 years on the job spent months investigating it. Literally, their own then-retired journalist had to turn to The Advocate for the story to run.
This is to say nothing of the countless times the GT has simply reported talking points for two sides of a debate, like iPads in the classroom, without doing any independent research for their readers.
The Advocate in all these instances, and plenty of others, has done the work and reporting as The Gazette-Times stood idle or was inaccurate. In simple terms, we spend every resource we can on research, reporting and advocacy — we have no stockholders and will report even if doing so means lost revenue.
To put things in perspective, The Gazette-Times likely generates more revenue on any given Sunday than The Advocate does over a whole month. In short, we do more with substantially less, arguably too much of less. We hope you will support our pledge drive efforts this spring, or if you are inclined, we would welcome anything you wish to contribute now.
A Charge to the Gazette-Times
A final word to our friends at The Gazette-Times: ten years ago, you dedicated tremendous resources and talent to the Karly Sheehan murder. One wonders if lacking such coverage anyone would have viewed the Children’s Services Division for being so culpable as it clearly was — if there would have ever been a Karly’s Law without you. You are also the paper that exposed Kip Schoenig, the Red Door Landlord.
Be that paper again.
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