When a reporting job opened at The Astorian, Nicole Bales saw an opportunity to get back to one of her passions.
Bales formerly supported fundraising efforts and communications for Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation before making the transition back into journalism, reporting on Clatsop County government, crime and courts.
“There’s so much happening locally,” Bales said. “I feel like the county is a bridge between our local politics and state politics. There’s a lot of very interesting stories to tell.”
Bales, 24, said she is especially interested in covering the intersection of state and local politics and different cultures. She recently reported on #TimberUnity, a movement formed to advocate for forestry in response to cap-and-trade legislation in Salem.
Originally from Sacramento, Bales started out at her high school newspaper, the Granite Bay Gazette. In one of her bigger articles, she reported on the local impact of the rising crisis in opioid abuse among athletes and other youth, interviewing family and friends who became advocates after their kids overdosed.
“What that showed me was that I really enjoyed immersing myself in these different worlds,” she said.
Bales moved to Eugene after high school to attend the University of Oregon, where she majored in journalism, history and political science. She worked for student publications, interned for KAST and produced podcasts about intercultural dialogue and conflict-sensitive reporting for the UNESCO Crossings Institute.
After graduation, she took a job with the hospital’s foundation as a way to immerse herself in the community. She didn’t initially see herself staying in a small town, but said the community and lifestyle grew on her to the point where she doesn’t yearn as much for big-city life.
Since moving to the North Coast in 2017, she has volunteered with the local downtown association, chamber of commerce and the Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific.
“There’s just a lot happening,” Bales said. “You can really see your impact a little bit more in small communities. I think younger people are moving to smaller towns at a larger rate, because they feel like they can see their impact.”