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Oh, The Stories We Tell

February 1st, 2006 by dk

We understand a place by the stories we tell about it. We are shaped by how others talk about us, but even more by how we talk about ourselves. If you tell somebody you’re from Eugene, do stories spring to their mind? If not, what stories do you tell them?

Storytelling has a past that is, well, “storied.” So who’s telling the most powerful stories about Eugene? We have many talented modern-day minstrels here. We call them “the media.”

“What is today’s lead story?”

News directors ask that question each morning. Consider the three TV newsrooms in town, filled with people to tell the stories. Each approaches the task from an angle that is slightly — or dramatically, if that’s your story — different.

KVAL has traditionally had the strongest signal reach and so has approached their role from a regional perspective. Eugene might be called first among equals. Roseburg and Coos Bay have different call letters and different daily news segments for the CBS affiliate.

KEZI, with its corporate headquarters in Eugene, also has staff in Roseburg and Coos Bay, and now Corvallis, but these outposts function as bureaus for KEZI. The ABC affiliate tells its stories every day from a more Eugene-centric perspective.

KMTR has a smaller staff and a shorter history, but they do “more with less” with its corporate connections. As a Clear Channel affiliate, they share staff with a news-talk radio station (KPNW) and a robust Web engine. Nearby help is available from fellow-NBC station KGW in Portland.

Each tells us stories every day about ourselves. Are these stories told from the perspective of Eugene? Or is Eugene one of many important places that make up the region? Or are we looking through the lens of a statewide and nationwide perspective?

Each perspective matters as we shape our future together. How they arrange the parts may differ, but we need them all to get “the whole story.”

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