Journalist to discuss trust in media

Elin Johnson, Features Editor

A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist will discuss how the public can regain trust in journalism.

Les Zaitz will host a lecture at Linfield at 12:15 on Oct. 24 in Riley 201. The lecture will focus on how journalists’ No. 1 goal is to regain the trust of the general public.

“This presentation is for anyone concerned about where Americans can turn for news they can trust and news they can rely on in deciding on matters of public affairs and community life. If you’re worried that it’s harder to learn the truth, this talk is for you,” Zaitz said in an email interview.

“Any news consumer needs to judge what they read or hear, assessing how solid does the sourcing appear to be, what reference to documents is there, is the report loaded with vague statements and opinions,” Zaitz continued.

The event is one in a series of journalism-themed lectures hosted by the recently renamed Journalism and Media Studies department to break in the new title.

Zaitz professional career began in 1973 when he was hired by the Salem Statesman Journal straight out of high school. While attending the University of Oregon, Zaitz contributed to Springfield News, the Oregon Journal and the New York Times. Zaitz worked for the Oregonian from 1976 to 1987. Then for the next 13 years he acted as owner and publisher of Keizertimes, a weekly newspaper thats ownership is still in his family. Zaitz returned to The Oregonian before his retirement from the paper in 2016.

This past year Zaitz co-founded the Salem Reporter, which was a Salem-based digital news service. It then merged with two other Oregon news organizations to create the Oregon Capital Bureau, which reports on state government.  

“I was born to be a journalist. I had my first byline in a newspaper when I was 12 and never looked back. In high school, I did a story examining why the school’s athletic budget was in the red. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my first investigative report. Ever since, I have pursued stories that hold powerful officials and agencies accountable for their conduct,” Zaitz said about the beginnings of his career.

Zaitz is the editor and publisher of Vale-based weekly Malheur Enterprise newspaper. Since he took on these roles in 2016, that paper has received awards at the state, regional and national level. He is also the CEO and editor of Mazama Digital which he formed in 2017 and which designs and markets an online news operation’s content management system.

Oregon native Zaitz was a Pulitzer Prize finalist twice. Once with a team of other journalists in 2007 (as well as the George Polk award) and again in 2014 (solo). Zaitz has also won Oregon’s top award for investigative reporting, the Bruce Baer award, five times. In 2016 he was awarded Oregon Newspaper Publisher Association’s highest career achievement honor.

In 2017, Oregon Governor Kate Brown appointed Zaitz to the Oregon Public Records Advisory Council. He was one of three press representatives. He is widely considered an expert in Oregon’s public records law.

To aspiring journalists Zaitz says: “Our country is in deep need of journalists who can report honestly, fairly and accurately, and in need of journalists who recognize the great power for good in such work.”

The event is open to the public and free of charge. It is anticipated to last just over one hour.

The Malheur Enterprise can be found on Twitter @malheaurnews.