In the past two decades, more than 2,500 American newspapers have gone out of business.

Like many rural communities in the United States, most people in Douglas County, Oregon, stay informed by watching Fox News – an “entertainment corporation” that recently paid nearly $800 million in fines for repeatedly broadcasting lies and misinformation. 

In Douglas County, Oregon, population 112,000, many people subscribe to the Roseburg News-Review. This newspaper is owned by Patrick Markham ­– the Rupert Murdock of Douglas County – who also owns the four local radio stations and more business in Douglas County than any other individual, including restaurants, travel agencies, apartment complexes, auto repair shops, real estate brokerages, Brooke Communications, and Lotus Media.

Markham’s partner in many of these businesses is Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice.

This means that most people in Douglas County are only exposed to the information Patrick Markham and his county commissioner friends wants them to hear. And much of the “news” that Markham’s radio stations and newspaper broadcast is tailored to accommodate the needs of his Markham’s business partner, Commissioner Boice.

For example, when the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire met in Salem, Oregon, on September 27, 2023, one of the topics discussed was the botched August 2023 repairs at the Winchester Dam that resulted in the biggest fish kill on an Oregon river this year.

Reports of the Winchester Dam repair catastrophe were published in the Ashland Chronicle, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Rogue Valley Times, the Blue Mountain Eagle, the Bend Bulletin, the Courthouse News ServiceMidcurrent, Jefferson Public Radio, the website of the Cow Creek Tribe of the Umpqua Band of Indians, and the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

But neither Markham’s News-Review newspaper, nor his four radio stations mentioned the Winchester Dam repair debacle. He didn’t want the general public to know about 

Markham did his level best to make sure the people of Douglas County would never find out about Ryan Beckley’s grossly inept mismanagement of repairs at the Winchester Dam that resulted on the biggest fish kill on an Oregon river this year, or of the “hundreds of thousands” of fish that needlessly died, or of the contamination of the North Umpqua River, just 50-feet upstream of the intake for the drinking water supply of some 37,700 residents of Roseburg.

Everyone outside of Douglas County got the news about this environmental disaster of epic proportions.

But most folks in Douglas County remain blissfully unaware of it.

This is because Patrick Markham’s newspaper and radio stations are reporting how first year Senator David Brock Smith feels the need to “protect” the owners of the Winchester Dam – the 99 rich members of the Winchester Water Control District who are facing severe financial penalties for Beckley’s blunders, permit violations, and aquatic holocaust.

Senator Brock Smith has chosen to align himself with the 99 property owners who have repeatedly damaged and contaminated the North Umpqua River – the number one steelhead stream in North America (and some say, in the world) –which many consider to be the county’s lifeblood and most valuable resource.

Senator Brock Smith’s position is short-sighted and ultimately indefensible. Consequently, he is likely destined to be a one-term candidate.

Patrick Markham, the Rupert Murdoch of Douglas County, Oregon