Three weeks have passed since the 2019 Kickoff magazine appeared in the Northeast Oregon publications of EO Media Group, including in the East Oregonian and the Hermiston Herald.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback so far, including from those in the coverage area of the EO and HH who picked it for the first time.

But we also have gotten some feedback expressing disappointment, particularly from some Morrow County readers. Not in the overall product, but in why the four schools from Morrow County were not included, and just the Umatilla County schools were.

It’s those comments I would like to address.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the reach of the Kickoff magazine was expanded this fall. Previously it had been run in The Observer (where I am also the sports editor) and in the Baker City Herald, and was a widely popular and often referred-to publication. It was included in the EO, HH and Wallowa County Chieftain this fall for the first time.

We met in July, just a few weeks after EOMG purchased The Observer and Baker City Herald, to discuss what adding the Kickoff magazine to the EO, HH and WCC would look like. We viewed it as a test run, one that would take some time to figure out the best approach to, especially at first.

I can attest to the fact that, for the previous four years, getting out a football tab that featured team previews for 13 or 14 schools, three unique covers and four or five feature articles (and doing so in a little over a week with a small staff) was already a herculean effort.

Adding nine schools, two more covers, two more features and close to 20 more pages was going to make that more of a challenge — not to mention coordinating that big of a change on a relatively short turnaround.

With that in mind, and not wanting to entirely overwhelm the sports staff at those publications with the first run, the decision was made that, for year one of the combined project, we would add the teams in a small dose and go with the schools of Umatilla County.

The Morrow County football teams would remain in the EO/HH combined fall preview section as they had been previously.

We knew this decision could elicit some negative feedback, and it wasn’t an easy one to make. Nobody likes to be left out, and we don’t like leaving anyone out. I’m certain there would have been some great content that would have come from those schools this fall, which does make it sting on our end.

But we also wanted to see how it would be received before completely diving in headlong.

From what I have been told, the reviews have been more than positive. The fact that we have schools that want to be in it in the future shows that the publication is, as we hoped, gaining popularity in a new demographic.

I do want to apologize to those schools who, for this edition, were left on the outside.

But rest assured that we have heard you, and that upcoming sports collaborations between our combined resources in the EOMG’s east region will include Morrow County.

And, perhaps, reach even further.

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