Local Residents Share Coverage Ideas with OPB

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Oregon Public Broadcasting President Steve Bass tells an audience of local residents Friday how OPB tries to tie the state's different regions together through its TV and radio programming during a discussion at the Hermiston Conference Center.

Oregon Public Broadcasting may be based in Portland, but it sees itself as a statewide media outlet covering stories that affect all Oregonians.

It was in that spirit that brought OPB President Steve Bass and Board Chairman Keith Mobley to Hermiston on Friday to have a conversation with area residents about how it can better reach out to viewers and listeners on local issues that have statewide significance.

The meeting, held at the Hermiston Conference Center, was hosted by Hermiston’s Fred Ziari, who happens to be a member of the OPB Board of Directors.

“OPB wants to meet you and get to know our community more,” Ziari told the group of about three dozen area residents. Not that Bass or Mobley are strangers to Eastern Oregon – Mobley is from Dufur and Bass comes to Pendleton several times a year to perform with the Oregon East Symphony.

“OPB is linked to this and other regions – not one particular city,” Bass said. “Tying those regions together is what OPB sees as our mission. Our job is letting people in Portland know what’s going on in Hermiston.”

To help make that happen, Bass, Mobley and Ziari opened the floor to questions and comments from the audience to find out what’s on their minds and what issues they feel are important.

“How do we use OPB to better cover this area?” Ziari asked the audience.

Eddie de la Cruz, chairman of Hermiston’s Hispanic Advisory Committee, was one of several who requested more outreach to the area’s Hispanic community and coverage of issues of diversity.

“The demographics are changing in Hermiston,” he said.

Bass encouraged de la Cruz – as well as everyone else – to join OPB’s Public Insight Network and become possible sources on topics in which they are well versed.

“It is important, particularly in diverse communities, for OPB to have contacts” to turn to when covering issues that impact a particular demographic, Bass said.

Port of Morrow General Manager Gary Neal said OPB should do a story on the SAGE Center in Boardman and how value-added agriculture affects the entire state.

“There’s a whole series of things we can do on these different aspects of economic development,” Bass said. “Water issues have lots of different aspects, as do value-added agriculture, tribal issues – things that impact everyone.”

Neal’s counterpart to the east, Port of Umatilla General Manager Kim Puzey, said he appreciates news magazine-style shows that feature “some information, some conversation and some deliberation.” Bass said OPB’s Think Out Loud program does just that and said it was time the program came to Hermiston to cover issues of importance to the eastern half of the state.

Roger Ford said OPB should spend more time covering Forest Service meetings in light of the fact that the Forest Service recently announced plans to convert another 90,000 acres of land into wilderness areas and has recently closed off a number of access roads to the state’s forests.

Eileen Laramore told Bass, Mobley and Ziari to cover Hanford issues and how they impact Oregon residents. She also suggested stories on the Umatilla Basin Project, immigration and future plans for the Umatilla Chemical Depot property.

Bass told the audience members their feedback was valuable and can help shape OPB’s coverage.

“OPB is committed to this entire region,” he said.

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