According to our curmudgeonly Publisher Steve Schultz, birthdays are for children. Well, since The Advocate is turning 8 years old this month, I guess that gives us cause for celebration.
While 8 years surely falls in the human youth category — for an alternative newspaper, we feel the wares of survival. It’s been a long time rowing this boat upstream, and there have been plenty of obstacles along the way. Over the years, people have surely formed their own opinions about what The Advocate is all about.
Alternatively, here are some words from our Editor Stevie Beisswanger along with Schultz, about themselves and just what they’ve aimed to accomplish here.
Parker: Where are you from?
Beisswanger: Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Population 1,480. Also referred to as “bumf*ck nowhere” or as I like to say, the sh*thole of my heart.
Schultz: I’m an evil Ex-Californian, but I don’t feel evil, but that could be denial. Specifically, I grew up in Los Angeles. I also lived in the Sierra for about 10 years before moving here. I don’t miss rattlesnakes.
Parker: What is your educational background/areas of study?
Beisswanger: I studied Creative Writing at Susquehanna University, with the ambition of becoming a fiction writer. I quickly realized that my true interest lay in creative nonfiction and poetry. I also studied Philosophy, Social Studies, and Women Studies, and spent a semester abroad studying Social Sciences, specifically sexuality studies, at the University of Amsterdam.
Schultz: I studied Psychology at UCLA, given I come from a family of shrinks. I learned I prefer studying evolution, and the history of nervous systems. I also studied American History and Animal Behavior.
Parker: When did you start writing, editing, and publishing?
Beisswanger: I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. My first dream was to be a country singer, believe it or not. I wrote and performed my first song for my parents at age 10, and distinctly remember them laughing in my face. Throughout middle and high school, journaling was a way of survival.
I began writing as an intern at The Advocate in 2015. Two years later, I was dubbed EIC.
Schultz: Age 6, a newspaper for family. I would become an Assistant Editor for my high school paper. Later, I bumped into LA Weekly, an alternative newspaper that changed the way I think about journalism.
Parker: Tell me a little about your current role.
Beisswanger: It is an excruciating amount of work, but all for a greater cause. I don’t think many people realize what all that goes into being an editor. Sometimes it’s all I can do to stop myself from retreating into the forest to be a full-time witch. But almost always, I find myself receiving a word of thanks, or thoughtful feedback from the community that reminds me of why this work is so meaningful in this time and place. I also work part time as a Skills Trainer at the Children’s Farm Home, a residential youth treatment facility.
Schultz: Publishers customarily seek to define the meaning of a publication, and then manage staffs so that they can succeed editorially and financially. However, given the current economic constraints, publishers, including myself, have to do a bit of everything at a publication. It’s actually somewhat counterproductive, but nobody has figured out how to better adapt the new realities of publishing yet, not really. Most days, the immediate undermines the important.
Parker: What are your personal goals for the paper? What would you like to see?
Beisswanger: The more the community recognizes our strides and potential, the more we can invest in deep, investigative work that’s so needed in our rapidly changing environment. My goal as an editor has always been to reach beyond the page. That is why we host events in the community – so people can interact with us on a personal level.
Schultz: On the one hand, I would like to retain our focus on Corvallis, and continue growing and deepening our offerings. However, we have always been outwardly focused toward the community, and I would like to expand our view to better care for our staff.
I had always assumed our financial capacity to care for our staff would grow alongside the meaningfulness of the work they offer to the community – that on some level, subscription and advertising revenues would naturally reward our staff’s efforts
This year, I will be working to suss out just how much community support we can realistically expect, and then seek to balance our staff’s workload more closely to that. We will become increasingly agile, and better able to scale our offerings more quickly to levels of community support.
If the community really uptakes subscribing, and holding local businesses accountable for their ad spends, we will be in the position to quickly offer more in response.
Parker: If you could give advice to your 15 year old self what would it be?
Beisswanger: No one is responsible for your happiness except for you.
Schultz: At present, I seem to be consulting my 15 year old self for advice, rather than the other way around.
Parker: What makes you feel alive?
Beisswanger: Nature, above all else. Also: adventure, deep conversations, colorful meals, laughter, fires, music, dancing, seeing others’ light through their shadows, the cosmos, the smell of flowers, my crazy hilarious family, and being on the front lines of justice.
Schultz: Breathing. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re still alive. Seriously, whether working out, meditating, or just driving – breathing. When I pay careful attention, I can sync with how forests, oceans, and deserts breathe, and can stay in some equilibrium. This is not an intellectual exercise, it’s physical. I also love noticing and learning, and holding people in light.
Parker: What are you passionate about?
Beisswanger: All of the above.
Schultz: Almost everything, which drives everyone around me nuts. The things I don’t care about, I REALLY don’t care about, which also makes everyone nuts – sorry.
Parker: Stevie, when did you start working at The Advocate?
Beisswanger: In the fall of 2015, I was hired as an intern. At that point, we were meeting in a giant loft that doubled as an art exhibit. The ceiling would routinely fall on us and the table during editorial meetings. It was strangely iconic.
Parker: Steve, when did you start The Advocate?
Schultz: Development started in October of 2011. Our first issue published on February 23, 2012.
Parker: Stevie, what made you interested in working for The Advocate?
Beisswanger: I first encountered The Advocate before moving to Oregon, while researching Corvallis from Pennsylvania. I remember thinking, “What the hell is this?” At the same time, I was excited to know that journalism could be free from the stale and stifling binds that I was so used to seeing.
Parker: Steve, what motivated you to start The Advocate?
Schultz: My hope has been that our shared community would become more unified and kind, and that we could offer a forum that demonstrates that what binds us together is greater than what separates us. My goal was to offer a space of shared knowledge and expression that would potentially weave seemingly disparate minds and interests together. Enmeshed with these motivations is my view that we adapt more healthfully and humanely in unity, and that a shared pool of knowledge helps.
Parker: Steve, what’s in the name, Advocate?
Schultz: It’s two-fold. Firstly, in my view, human objectivity is a myth, so our title serves as a disclosure. For instance, all news organizations judge which stories to pursue, and how to treat those stories, and there is naturally implicit personal bias at each step.
So, secondly, in that our choices are implicit advocacies, we can be more deeply useful to readers if we disclose our biases. From the beginning, we’ve plainly stated our guiding principle is to will the highest good for our shared community, and then to advocate for that.
Of course, viewpoints can differ concerning what constitutes the highest good, so we publicly make plain our standards and practices, and our values – you can find these on our About page, online.
We update all this from time to time, both formally and informally – but always, publicly. In spring, we begin a formal biennial review of our standards, practices, and values which will be published once it’s completed.