A weekly newspaper in Oregon, which fired all of its staff in December after an employee embezzled thousands of dollars, will restart its print edition on February 8 after raising enough money through donations. its editor said on Sunday.
The newspaper, The Eugene Weekly, suddenly ceased printing after discovering financial problems, including money not being paid into employees’ retirement accounts and $70,000 in unpaid bills to the newspaper’s printer, which led it to close by Christmas. A few days before, all 10 of its staff members were fired from their jobs. , its editor Camilla Mortensen said at the time.
However, over the past month, Ms. Mortensen has continued to publish articles online with the help of interns, freelancers and retired reporters and editors — many of whom were willing to work without pay to keep the newspaper afloat — she said Sunday. .
By this week, Ms. Mortensen and three other staff members will be back on the payroll in preparation for the Feb. 8 edition, he said, noting that the return to print was made possible by readers and members of the public who voiced concern over the financial crisis. At least $150,000 after problems were reported.
“With this support from people, there’s no way we can’t try – we have to try printing,” Ms Mortensen said.
Theft, newspaper leaders said on December 28 letters to readers, was hidden for years and its financial condition was left “in a shambles”. The newspaper has appointed a forensic accountant to investigate.
Newspaper leaders said that although the situation was unprecedented, they believed in the newspaper’s mission, and were “determined to keep EW alive.”
The Eugene Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday evening about the embezzlement, but previously said it was investigating. The now-former employee accused of theft, who was involved in the newspaper’s finances, has not been publicly identified.
The free paper, founded in 1982, previously printed 30,000 copies per week. Copies can be found in bright red boxes in and around Eugene, Oregon’s third-largest city.
Ms. Mortensen, who became editor in 2016 after working at the newspaper for nearly a decade, said Sunday that its closure was sad.
“Every time I pass one of our little red boxes with no paper in it, it stabs me in the heart,” she said, noting that the plan is to print 5,000 fewer copies. This was done so that the paper could remain durable.
“Obviously, it’s been exciting,” she said, “but we also want to get back to being this free weekly newspaper that pays for itself.”