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VOC Moving into the digital age

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When you are 136 years old, sometimes it’s hard to adapt to newfangled ways. The Chieftain published its first issue in 1884. A Jan. 7 1898 issue, yellowed, fragile and faded, is the oldest edition of the paper that still resides in our archive. Then, as now, the Chieftain published once each week. Type was set in lead. Presses were hand-cranked. Papers were delivered by horse and buggy.

The lead story in the 1898 paper is headlined “Cotton for Oregon.” It ends with the optimistic prediction: “If cotton can be raised anyplace in Oregon, the Imnaha country will lead the procession.” The paper also admonished everyone to attend the Joseph-Enterprise foot ball (sic) game on Jan. 15 in Enterprise. (Was this a precursor to the Super Bowl?)

Things change. There was the telephone. Then the radio. Then TV. And now the Internet.

Today we live in a world where news transmits at light-speed around the globe. For too long, the Chieftain has remained in 1884 mode, faithfully publishing its print stories on Wednesdays, and usually holding virtually all news stories until Wednesday before placing them on the webpage. In September, 2019 we began publishing portions of the paper online on Tuesday afternoon once the print edition had gone to press. We’d tiptoed cautiously into the late 20th century.

Well, we have finally realized that Imnaha isn’t growing cotton, and it’s time to move wholeheartedly out of the 19th century and into the 21st.

Beginning this week our news stories, including sports, education, and business, will be published as our reporters complete them. Our print edition will remain a weekly, with its ads, coupons, and special sections. But online, we will be more like a daily, with stories posted as they happen. You’ll have fresh news of Wallowa County at your fingertips. So check our webpage daily and you’ll find new and wonderful things.

We will continue to post news and information to our Facebook page in a timely manner as well. But these posts will be pretty slim and basic compared to the full article that will be available on the Chieftain website. We’ll also take to Twitter. And Instagram. And any other newfangled technology that comes our way. Publishing news as it happens is what newspapers do.

As part of the EO Media Group, The Chieftain has also been bringing you news and information from our publishing partners, especially the Blue Mountain Eagle (John Day), Baker City Herald, La Grande Observer, East Oregonian, and for agricultural and forestry issues, Capital Press. We offer our readers only the stories we feel are relevant or of interest to Wallowa County. This includes information about the state legislature and bills important to Wallowa County, as well as news from forestry, agriculture, and education. Recently we have also run timely stories about our neighboring areas, including the widespread, damaging flooding in Umatilla County. Similarly, we share news of Wallowa County with our sister publications, making timely publication of our stories more widespread and more important than ever.

The only thing that is changing at the Chieftain is that our local stories will be posted on our website as they are written. They will be accessible sooner on the website than in print. Our print publication remains unchanged. In the future, as in the past, we will remain laser-focused on Wallowa County. It’s just that we are now making that news available to those with web or app (subscription) access at light speed, multiple times per week, as well as the good, old-fashioned, horse-and-buggy paper edition speed on Wednesdays. And in case anyone decides to plant cotton in Imnaha, you’ll be the first to know. Just check the Chieftain app on your iPhone.

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