NATIONAL NEWS

Oregon weekly newspaper to relaunch print edition after theft forced it to lay off its entire staff

Jan 28, 2024, 3:10 PM

FILE - The red office building of the Eugene Weekly sits in Eugene, Ore., on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023....

FILE - The red office building of the Eugene Weekly sits in Eugene, Ore., on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. The Oregon weekly newspaper that had to lay off its entire staff after its funds were embezzled by a former employee will relaunch its print edition in February 2024, its editor said, a move made possible in large part by fundraising campaigns and community contributions. (Todd Cooper via AP, File)

(Todd Cooper via AP, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon weekly newspaper that had to lay off its entire staff after its funds were embezzled by a former employee will relaunch its print edition next month, its editor said, a move made possible in large part by fundraising campaigns and community contributions.

The Eugene Weekly will return to newsstands on Feb. 8 with roughly 25,000 copies, about six weeks after the embezzlement forced the decades-old publication to halt its print edition, editor Camilla Mortensen said Saturday.

“It has been both terrifying and wonderful,” Mortensen told The Associated Press, describing the emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks. “I thought it was hard to run a paper. It’s much harder to resurrect a paper.”

The alternative weekly, founded in 1982 and distributed for free in Eugene, one of the largest cities in Oregon, had to lay off its entire 10-person staff right before Christmas. It was around that time that the paper became aware of at least $100,000 in unpaid bills and discovered that a now-former employee who had been involved with the paper’s finances had used its bank account to pay themselves around $90,000, Mortensen said.

Additionally, multiple employees, including Mortensen, realized that money from their paychecks that was supposed to be going into retirement accounts was never deposited.

The accused employee was fired after the embezzlement came to light.

A devastating blow

The news was a devastating blow to a publication that serves as an important source of information in a community that, like many others nationwide, is struggling with growing gaps in local news coverage.

The Eugene police department’s investigation is still ongoing, and forensic accountants hired by the paper are continuing to piece together what happened.

Local Eugene news outlets KEZI and KLCC were among the first to report the weekly’s return to print.

Since the layoffs, some former staff members have continued to volunteer their time to help keep the paper’s website up and running. Much of the online content published in recent weeks has been work from journalism students at the University of Oregon, located in Eugene, and from freelancers who offered to submit stories for free — “the journalistic equivalent of pro bono,” Mortensen said.

Some former employees had to find other jobs in order to make ends meet. But Mortensen hopes to eventually rehire her staff once the paper pays its outstanding bills and becomes more financially sustainable.

The paper has raised roughly $150,000 since December, Mortensen said. The majority of the money came from an online GoFundMe campaign, but financial support also came from local businesses, artists and readers. The paper even received checks from people living as far away as Iowa and New York after news outlets across the country picked up the story.

“People were so invested in helping us that it just really gives me hope for journalism at a time where I think a lot of people don’t have hope,” she told the AP. “When we saw how many people contributed and how many people continue to offer to help, you can’t not try to print the paper. You’ve got to give it a shot.”

The paper aims to continue weekly printing beyond Feb. 8.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Katia Hetter, CNN

Mosquitoes and ticks are showing up with greater frequency. Here’s how to stay safe this summer

Welcome to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, with all its fun in the sun – and little critters who want to take a bite out of you.

31 minutes ago

A deer took the "Visitors Welcome" sign seriously at a church building for the Church of Jesus Chri...

Eliza Pace

Oh deer! Wisconsin church gets an unexpected visitor

A deer took the "Visitors Welcome" sign seriously at a church building for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

1 hour ago

A tourist jumps from a rock into the blue-green water of Havasu Falls in Havasu Canyon, Arizona, Ap...

Scott Sonner and Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Dozens of hikers became ill during trips to waterfalls near the Grand Canyon

Dozens of tourists say they became ill after visiting a popular Arizona tourist destination known for its towering blue-green waterfalls.

2 hours ago

The family said the doctors told them she may have experienced what is known as a cryptic pregnancy...

Mike Bergazzi , Jon Burkett

Unaware she was pregnant, this mom gave birth at Taco Bell: ‘A miracle, out of nowhere’

A woman was shocked when she went into labor at Taco Bell. She didn't know she was pregnant.

3 hours ago

FILE: Elected officials and representatives from U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams unveil t...

Associated Press

Possible 2026 World Cup training camps may include Salt Lake City or Herriman

Possible team training camps for the 2026 World Cup include a site in Salt Lake City among several other U.S. cities.

7 hours ago

The statue 'Contemplation of Justice' sits above the west front plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court on ...

Mark Sherman

Supreme Court rules California man can’t trademark ‘Trump too small’

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against a man who wants to trademark the suggestive phrase “Trump too small.”

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Oregon weekly newspaper to relaunch print edition after theft forced it to lay off its entire staff