Oregonian to close bureaus, cut newsroom staff

by Steve, July 10th, 2008

Sources have revealed that the Oregonian is preparing for a major round of cost-cutting, which will include closing all but two bureaus (south and west). Buyout offers are expected in the fall, with the goal of a cutting 50 positions company-wide, including 30 in the newsroom.

As the paper struggles with declining readership and ad revenue along with the rest of the daily print journalism industry, it is amazing that they still refuse to enter the digital media market in a serious way, as every other mainstream media outlet in Portland has. Blame it on their parent company, Newhouse, which has kept all of its papers at arms length from their family of sister companies (like OregonLive) that operate on the Web and publish selected content from the papers.

This kind of stodgy, tentative relationship to the changing media landscape is quickly making the O a living dinosaur.

10 Responses to “Oregonian to close bureaus, cut newsroom staff”

  1. Comment from lynnette:

    Yikes. Sounds like significant layoffs could have been avoided with significant change—too bad this was their choice.

  2. Comment from Steve:

    They’re not talking about layoffs as of now. So far, they’re still trying to do it with voluntary reductions.

  3. Comment from verasoie:

    Oh please oh please, let that blowhard Reinhard go! His partisan, looney conservative rants alone are keeping scores of people from subscribing

  4. Comment from Mayflower:

    Verasoie, don’t write things you can’t possibly know anything about. Far more subscribers are quitting the Oregonian because of its liberal slant. Talk to anybody who works in their circulation department.

  5. Pingback from Willamette Week | Thursday, July 10th, 2008:

    [...] Word leaking out of The Oregonian is that the latest cost-cutting move will be the closing of the paper’s North bureau in Vancouver, as well as its East Metro and South Metro bureaus. (also being reported here.) [...]

  6. Comment from tb:

    Oregonlive.com is circa 1999 web design and horrible to use. No wonder they are failing.

  7. Comment from Robbed of the Truth:

    I am robbed of the truth about Portland and Oregon everyday due to the failing journalistic ethics of the Oregonian.

    As someone who is a native Oregonian, on a regular basis I find the Oregonian writers hold their personal political agendas above the truth.

    In particular, I hear often that readership is down, in particular from a sour feeling in Portlanders minds after the terrible coverage on the recent Portland Mayoral race. Whether one wanted Sho Dozono to win or not, the coverage was completely biased, often unfactual, and was completely charged with Sam Adams pro-bias because the political writers and the editorial board of the O think they have Sam Adams in their pocket. Not to mention that those of us in-the-know, know full well that Sam Adams has been dating a well-known Oregonian reporter throughout his run for Mayor.

    Portland and Oregon will be better off without the Oregonian – I personally am ready for its demise.

  8. Comment from Kevin:

    People tend to see the crises in newspaper publishing from an ideological viewpoint (“looney conservative rants,” “liberal slant,” etc.) but that’s just talk-radio bluster; if the problem was that simple, every paper in America would’ve flipped over to the editorial POV that made the most money.

    The two chains in the most trouble right now are Journal Register papers (which have Web sites that make the Oregonian’s look cutting-edge) and those of the Morris Publishing Group, which is easily the most conservative major newspaper chain in the nation. (Those who find the O to be jackbootedly arch-conservative would choke on their muesli if they ever saw a Morris paper, particularly the Bible quote of the day at the top of the op-ed page.)

    Right behind the J-R papers and Morris on the trouble train is the Tribune Co., which is left-of-center and has spent a good deal of money on attractive Web sites, to no avail. (They’re about to undergo a seismic contraction that will make the Oregonian shuttering a few bureaus seem like nothing.)

    The one-two punch of declining advertisements and the availability of other news sources has more to do with newspapers’ declining fortunes than any editorial bias pro or con on any particular issue.

    The problem isn’t the editorial viewpoint of any particular paper; the industry as a whole is in freefall. If newspapers’ troubles were due to ideology rather than a shifting media world, all someone would have to do is start a competing paper with an opposing viewpoint — it would be like printing money.

  9. Comment from Steve:

    Thanks for the perspective, Kevin. You note that “availability of other news sources” is a key factor in the decline of newspapers, but also that the Tribune Co. has invested in the Web to no avail.

    It’s a conundrum, isn’t it? The “other news sources” are electronic, right? So why shouldn’t newspapers, with their highly developed news gathering organizations, be able to shift their news delivery to the Web and kick the nascent competition to the curb?

    Eric Alterman wrote a piece in the New Yorker in March, Out of Print, suggesting the demise also has to do with the pretense of objectivity that traditional print news media cling to. This pretense is nowhere in sight with much of the new digital media.

    This would explain why even papers with good Web sites will continue to struggle, and indicate a fundamental shift in this business we call “journalism” is in order.

    Still, even without that, I maintain that papers like Newhouse’s, which refuse to do more than dip their toes in the digital deluge, will be the first to die.

  10. Comment from Matthew:

    “Oh please oh please, let that blowhard Reinhard go!”

    “Far more subscribers are quitting the Oregonian because of its liberal slant. Talk to anybody who works in their circulation department.”

    Every few weeks they call me and try to get me to subscribe, and every time I tell them I’ll subscribe if they get rid of Reinhard, and the person on the other end doesn’t even know who I’m talking about… I don’t know who is really calling me, (they are probably contractors or something,) but I don’t imagine that they and the paper actually talk.