Each day, copies of six community newspapers owned by Western Communications, the parent company of The Bulletin, are delivered to the Bend company headquarters.
And with each one, the strength, vitality and importance of these journals to the citizens they serve is made overwhelmingly apparent.
Any doubt about that should be erased reading page A1 of The Bulletin today. But, let me back up.
I read through our newspapers regularly. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the most recent copy of the Baker City Herald.
Across the top of the front page of this excellent community newspaper was a riveting story by reporter Lisa Britton about a family with unique, perhaps even historic, challenges.
The eldest daughter — now 12 — had a heart transplant six years ago. Two of the other five children in the family were in beds in a pediatric hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.
In fact, they were in rooms next to each other on the same floor, and both were facing heart transplants themselves. Incredible. But there was more.
The two remaining children in this five-child family were showing signs of the same heart problems that led the others to Palo Alto.
The story told the community, the family's Mormon church, the parents' workplaces, the kids' teachers and friends, etc., that this fine young family faced the very real prospect of five heart transplants in their five children. If they are lucky, one each.
There is a big difference between trouble and troublesome.
Most of the worries we fret over are troublesome, but this seems like trouble to me. We scrambled resources from Baker to Bend to San Francisco to bring you today's extraordinary report. In the parlance of my trade, we flooded the zone.
But what occurred to me is that without the relationship of Britton, photographer John Collins and the whole Herald staff with that community, whatever we could tell of this story would be a faint version of the marvelous work that appears today.
The people in this story are not strangers to reporter Britton.
As she told the editing team, she knows them on a familiar and first-name basis, seeing them in food stores, community events and just around town.
Long before the full dimension of this situation was known to anyone, Britton had a “how are the kids, did you find the dog” kind of neighborly and chatty acquaintance with the family, its friends and associates.
They trusted that the Herald was a community citizen, too — obligated, of course, to the truth, but always mindful and respectful of a greater good. That sounds like a quaint and, in this blogosphere world, archaically doomed naiveté.
I hope not, because it's a critical bond in a community.
It is refreshing and reassuring that community journalists can enter into the lives of their friends and neighbors in the most difficult moments and tell their stories to those who can offer the most immediate response.
Of course, important as they are, our obligation to our readers in these communities is not limited to heart tugging, compassionate narratives.
It hasn't been so in Sonora, Calif., where our newspaper, The Union Democrat, courageously revealed that the unqualified son of the school superintendent, hired into a public position in his father's classrooms, seduced a student. While we got threats to our advertising, we never blinked and he went to jail.
Or in Crescent City, Calif., where our staff, forced to evacuate its building during the 2011 tsunami, set up a newsroom in a school building and, despite the dislocation at a risky time, continued to inform its readers.
They are three very different stories, bound by one common resolve, which is evident in our newspapers everyday.
Like you, we are citizens of our communities to which our service is dedicated.