From early January to March 2018, the Engaged Journalism class at the University of Oregon, with guidance from Internews, carried out an information ecosystem assessment with residents in La Pine, Oregon to gauge the current information needs of the community.
La Pine, which was incorporated in 2006 as a part of Deschutes County, has a population of around 2,000. La Pine is an emerging city that is experiencing population and economic growth. Since 2000, the average income has jumped nearly 30 percent, from $29,859 to $38,308; though it is still lower than the state median of $59,532. In juxtaposition to the city’s relative youth, the population itself trends in the older direction. The average age of the La Pine population is 42.6 years old, compared to 39.2 years old for the state of Oregon.
For such a small city, La Pine residents have a number of choices when it comes to local media outlets, including a local paper (the Newberry Eagle), two radio stations (KNCP 107.3 and KLBR 88.1), and a local television channel (KTVZ Channel 21). Residents also have access to a wide variety of national and internet-based outlets, including CNN, NPR, Fox News, and others.
The objectives of the class were to find out what media is consumed in La Pine, and how it’s consumed; which outlets are doing well with the community and why; and finally, how the media can better serve the needs of La Pine. We began with a visit to La Pine, where we surveyed residents and introduced our project. Shortly thereafter, an online survey was made available to any residents interested in participating. Our final step was a second visit to La Pine, where we hosted a workshop in order to find out what media outlets can do to gain the trust of the people of La Pine. In total, we surveyed over 70 residents, both in person and via an online survey.