Linfield alum steps into leadership role with local newspaper

Kirby+Neumann-Rea+worked+as+a+student+journalist+for+Linews%2C+which+is+now+The+Linfield+Review%2C+in+his+time+at+Linfield+College.+

Kirby Neumann-Rea worked as a student journalist for “Linews”, which is now The Linfield Review, in his time at Linfield College.

Maddie Loverich, Editor-in-chief

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The News-Register, a local newspaper based out of McMinnville, Ore., needed a managing editor. They posted a job opening for the position, and it caught the eye of a journalist at the Columbia Gorge News. 

The same draw that brought his father, family members, and college-aged Kirby Neumann-Rea to McMinnville inspired the Linfield University alumni to apply for the position and return 40 years later. 

Neumann-Rea and his wife moved to town earlier this year, excited to live closer to family, his alma mater, and the place they got married. His job with the News-Register started on April 1, a detail that he laughed at. 

“They’re still figuring out what a joke it was,” he joked. 

Neumann-Rea read the News-Register for years while living in Hood River, and he credits his knowledge of the area to that fact. Now, as an editor, he is grateful that the staff has been welcoming and accommodating as he settles in the community. 

“The people here on staff are wonderful,” he said. “They welcomed me, they’ve been patient with me, and answered all the questions. I’ve got lots of questions, like, ‘What used to be in such a place? Who was so and so? And the only way to learn those things is to just ask somebody. Never, ever hesitate to ask.”

The family ties to McMinnville are strong. Neumann-Rea’s father graduated from Linfield in 1949. 

Following in his dad’s footsteps, NeumannRea transferred to Linfield from Mount Hood Community College as a sophomore, bringing credits with him to continue pursuing a communications degree as a Wildcat. He joined The Linfield Review, which was then called “Linews”, as a staff writer and covered a variety of campus stories in the role. 

A perk of being a student journalist, according to Neumann-Rea, is really getting to know the community you’re in. Looking back, he wishes he had taken advantage of more opportunities Linfield had to offer.

“I think it’s really valuable to learn as much as you can about the programs, the people, the things that are going on, and the issues,” he said. “The greater understanding you have of the place you’re in and the time you’re there, the better it prepares you for adapting to whatever new environment and situation that you find yourself in.”

He also gained basic work experience working for the student publication, most importantly how to talk to people in any situation. 

There’s an opportunity to really learn and to make a difference,” he said. “It’s not just some little school, it’s a community.”

After his sophomore year, Neumann-Rea decided to study abroad in Israel for a year with Tel Aviv University’s overseas English program. There, he mostly studied history and politics in the Middle East.

Living overseas, he said, prepared him for anything in the future and gave him ample opportunity to meet new people, including a friend that just visited Neumann-Rea in McMinnville last week. The two have stayed in touch for 40 years. 

“I got exposure to a lot of different people with a lot of different ideas, that were not ones that I hadn’t necessarily encountered before,” Neumann-Rea said. “It really, really helped prepare me a lot to be a journalist because you always have to anticipate who you’re going to be talking to next, and what they’re gonna have to tell you. What’s their story?”

After his time abroad was up, Neumann-Rea decided to pursue a political science degree to better accommodate the classes he took abroad and graduate on time, as planned. Political science, however, also turned out to be helpful for his reporting career. 

[Political science was helpful] in some sort of intangible ways,” he said. “I think it just came in gave me an understanding of the way the world works. And both domestic and international politics, which has changed so much in 41 years. It’s not the same world.”

Natural writing skills and encouragement from his parents inspired a young Neumann-Rea to pursue journalism. His aspirations to become a journalist started when he was 12.   

The reporter got his start in journalism in eighth grade, working as a correspondent for a local paper in Redmond, Wash. to write about his school. He went on to study journalism through high school and eventually worked as editor for the paper at South Albany High School. 

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were prominent role models for aspiring journalists like Neumann-Rea growing up in the 70s, even though he never intended to pursue investigative journalism.

“They were the model that everyone either looked to or when people talked to you about your career plans at that time, it was like, ‘Oh, so that’s it,’” he said. “What they did was was so remarkable. In my growing up, they really set the tone for what was achievable as a journalist.”

His first reporting job after graduation was in Dallas, Ore. in 1981 with Polk County-Itemizer Observer, during which he covered sports and city government. He worked there for three years until he had another opportunity to return to Israel. 

He took a year to travel in Europe, and returned to Molalla, Ore. to work at the local newspaper. At the time, the staff at The Malala Pioneer consisted of Neumann-Rea and one other reporter. It was in Malala that he met his wife of 37 years, Lorre. 

Neumann-Rea worked for a few other local papers in Dallas, Ore. and Port Angeles, Wash., but finally settled in Hood River, Ore. for 21 years. 

“At that point, I saw that I loved living in small communities,” he said. “And I really saw the value of being able to live, work, get to know a place, and be part of it.”

During his time in Hood River, Neumann-Rae served as editor of the Hood River News (which has now been turned into the Columbia Gorge News after restructuring). Just last week, he returned to the area to continue a project he began with the publication eight years ago. 

The annual project, titled “Tracks to ‘26”, will follow a group of six local children from kindergarten to senior year of high school. The kids, now in eighth grade but set to graduate in 2026, answer the same questions each year and take updated pictures. The project has become a favorite in the community, often inciting excitement from locals 

“I’m glad that people look forward to it every year,” Neumann-Rea said. “It’s a way of connecting people to the paper in a continuing way that gets them to think about the publication as part of the community and attempting, at least, to tell stories and to really look, at least in the case of the six kids, to look at their lives between ages six and 18 in a cyclical way, but kind of as a whole.” 

He anticipates heading up to Hood River for the next four years to do the project until the kids graduate, and is grateful that the publication is letting him continue with the project after his move to McMinnville to begin a new chapter at the News-Register.