This news hits me like a haymaker to the chops.
The Oregonian newspaper — once the hands-down media leader in Oregon — is shutting down its press operation.
The operation at 1320 S.W. Broadway Ave. in downtown Portland is emptying out. The paper is going to farm out its printing to another vendor. The Oregonian needs to save money, I guess to stay viable. They’ll lay off 100, maybe 200, pressroom and production employees.
Man, oh man. This news hits me hard. It ought to hit every person who grew up reading The Oregonian, wanting to be like the reporters who wrote for the paper. It ought to sicken them.
I am sick tonight. I used to work part-time in The Oregonian’s mail room, back in the early 1970s. I was newly married and attending college. I got my start there, understanding a little bit about the miracle that occurs every night when the paper goes to press, gets bundled up, put on trucks and then delivered to hundreds of thousands of homes every morning.
The Oregonian has undergone massive change already. Its circulation has plummeted. It stopped delivering the paper daily to homes throughout the metro area. It went to a tabloid format.
It’s not the same. Then again, no print medium is the same these days.
It’s fair to ask, then: What does the future hold for the craft that attracted so many of us back in the day? It’s cloudy, uncertain, perhaps even murky.
Look across the country and you see change is afoot everywhere.
Here in Amarillo, the Globe-News soon — I reckon — will be printed in Lubbock, 120 miles south on Interstate 27. They presses in Amarillo will be shut down, taken apart and sold. Maybe even scrapped. What happens, then, to the office buildings that occupy a city block?
What does it mean for the news being reported by the paper? Well, despite what the newspaper publisher, Lester Simpson, said in announcing the pending shutdown of the Amarillo presses, it’s going to diminish the paper’s relevance as it regards late-breaking local news.
Simpson said the company remains committed to the printed newspaper. But when you’re having to push deadlines back two hours to accommodate the travel time it takes to get the papers loaded onto trucks and brought back to Amarillo for distribution, there won’t be late-breaking local news.
But the Globe-News execs promise to deliver the paper every morning by 6.
Suppose a fire breaks out in a major structure at, say, 11 p.m. Will it be in the paper? Nope. The newsroom staff — or what’s left of it — will put it online and tell readers of the paper to get the news at the paper’s website.
There’s your commitment to the printed newspaper.
It’s happening all across the country. The media landscape is rumbling under our feet.
The Internet has changed everything.
For the better? Well, that story has yet to be played out.