© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Eugene Weekly attracts support following alleged embezzlement

A woman sits in front of a wall covered with newspaper clippings. A dog is at her side.
Nathan Wilk
Camilla Mortensen, the Weekly's Editor-in-Chief, said she's cautiously hopeful about the future. The paper is currently only publishing a smaller number of articles online each week.

After the Eugene Weekly stopped printing last month, staff say they’ve seen an outpouring of local and national support.

On Dec. 28, the Weekly announced that it had been the victim of an alleged embezzlement, leaving the publication in debt and forcing it to lay off its entire newsroom. Editor-in-Chief Camilla Mortensen said an employee siphoned funds meant to pay vendors, retirement and the electric bill.

That story drew national attention, including articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Mortenson said the Weekly’s struggles reflect a greater trend.

"People are starting to come to terms with the losses that have happened in journalism, the losses of community newspapers," she said. "But for what was otherwise a thriving print weekly, that we might be lost because of embezzlement, I think really resonated with people."

Since the news broke, the paper has received around $100,000 in donations through its GoFundMe page and website, Mortenson said. One contributor wrote that they’ve never been to Eugene, but were moved to donate anyway.

“Local journalism is vital to community identity and an underpinning of informed voting,” the donor, Lawrence Szabo, said on GoFundMe.

Mortensen said she’s been touched seeing people who are willing to support alt-weekly journalism, but the paper isn't in the clear yet.

“On one hand, it’s just a huge and amazing amount of money,” said Mortensen. “And on the other hand, I start feeling sick, because that's just the tip of the iceberg of even just what we know was taken.”

The work continues

In the newsroom, Mortensen said former interns, freelancers and the laid-off staff are volunteering to help create content for the web.

“Editors of other newspapers or folks who moved on from the Register Guard—the paper that's technically our competition—have reached out and been like, ‘what can I do?’” she said.

According to Mortensen, the fraud investigation is limiting the paper’s future access to funds, but the goal is to rehire staff and resume printing near the end of January. She said she’s cautiously hopeful.

“With the amount of community support that has shown up,” said Mortensen, “I can't imagine not pulling this off.”

Eugene Police confirmed last week that they were investigating the embezzlement case. On Thursday, a spokesperson told KLCC that there were no updates on the investigation.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
Related Content