Not to bore you with the mechanics of magazine making, but one oddity of the craft (at least here at Portland Monthly): we don’t really have anything to do with the beast they call the “news cycle.” To plan and create our issues, we have to think ahead—months ahead, sometimes more than a year, imagining what will work and make sense in the future. Which, you may have noticed, is an increasingly unstable concept.
To be totally honest, this usually feels like a luxury. Instead of tracking and reacting to every insane gyration of the CNN / FOX / MSNBC / Politico / FiveThirtyEight / NYT / WaPo doom barometer, we aspire to think about the long game. Journalistically, our model serves as a sanctuary. We can put energy into cool projects, like the original fiction and poetry we commission. We can devote ourselves to combing through pretty pictures of beaches, and plumbing the mysteries of set-to-stun Korean ribs.
Sometimes, though, our pleasant remove from All That feels almost obtuse. We do cover politics, and recently I was corresponding with a longtime freelancer who’s at work on a pre-election story for publication this fall. He was worried about his deadline; his real job had dispatched him to the border to report on the federal government’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents. Nothing underscored my personal professional privilege like hearing from someone on the ground, in a situation in which our country chose to put kids in cages.
That kind of reality check can sap your morale. As an editor, I take solace in subtext: our coverage often touches (and aims to elevate) the strands of community spirit and redemptive creativity that big-media discourse seems designed to ignore, if not destroy. Associate editor Ramona DeNies’s exploration of the North Coast, our cover story this month, resonates on those themes, as she discovers people and organizations steering an economic and cultural evolution. The stars of that story are restaurateurs, tourism pros, hoteliers, fisherfolk, and—frankly—brewers and bar owners. (Compared to the cast of characters on cable news, would you trade?) Together, they’re making positive change in a specific place. In a more out-there, meta-something sense, they’re crafting a future that is itself a worthy destination, if we can make it. That feels good to report upon—the sort of portent on the horizon we need to see.
Now, figuring out the October issue....
Editor in Chief