Steve Forrester, who retired in 2016 after 28 years as editor and publisher of The Daily Astorian, was honored Sunday by U.S. Sen Ron Wyden for his impact on the freedom of the press.
On break from Congress, Wyden has been on a First Amendment-themed tour of Oregon highlighting freedoms of speech, religion, press and assembly. He met with refugees Friday in Portland and blocked out time Sunday to visit Forrester’s home in Astoria.
The Oregon Democrat presented Forrester with an inaugural Go Fourth Award, a nod to the role of the press as the Fourth Estate watchdog of government.
“Steve has always said that this process — asking the important questions, being involved in the community — that what mattered most was local government, local journalism, community journalism,” Wyden said while giving Forrester the award.
Forrester is president and CEO of EO Media Group, the owner of The Daily Astorian and the Chinook Observer and several other newspapers. He worked for the Sellwood Bee after graduating from Portland State University and later co-founded Willamette Week. In 1978, he took over the bureau assignment of longtime Washington, D.C., reporter Robert Smith.
Two years later, Forrester met Wyden, then in his early 30s and running for the state’s 3rd Congressional District. Thanking Wyden for the award, Forrester remarked on how he could tell early on the candidate was a winner. After serving in the House, Wyden was elected to the Senate in 1996.
Wyden credited Forrester with dedication to producing quality news and investing in the community through projects such as the restoration of the Liberty Theatre downtown. He presented Forrester a transcript of the June 20 Congressional Record, when he read a tribute to the newspaperman.
“I know Steve would much rather shine the spotlight on others, but the bottom line is I want Oregon to recognize his enormous and long-lasting contributions to making our state a better place to live and to making all of us as Oregonians better-informed citizens,” the tribute said.
On Monday, Wyden is in Eugene for his 900th town hall, part of a promise since being elected to the Senate to visit each county, each year. He will march in a Fourth of July parade Wednesday in Ashland and meet with religious leaders Thursday in Eugene to discuss freedom of religion.
“In much of the world, people can’t freely assemble, speak, write or practice their religion,” Wyden said in a news release about his tour. “It’s more important than ever as we in the United States celebrate our nation’s birthdate to celebrate all those freedoms and to defend them from assaults with all our might.”