We called it “The O,” or the “Big O” back in the day, but these days the “O” is a shadow of its former self and is vanishing into history’s dust bin.
The O is The Oregonian, the newspaper of record for my hometown of Portland. A friend sent me a story from Editor & Publisher with a distressing story about the Oregonian’s plans to quit daily distribution of a newspaper that once was considered a “cash cow” for Newhouse Corp., the company’s corporate owner. The Oregonian is about to end 142 years of daily newspaper distribution.
No more, man.
A paper that once distributed more than 250,000 copies daily and 400,000 copies on Sunday is suspending publication for four days weekly effective Jan. 1. The culprit? That damn Internet!
I don’t know how to react, other than with profound sadness at the state of the industry that gave me a wonderful career. I practiced my craft for nearly 37 years, and I actually got started with the Oregonian Publishing Co., which used to operate the afternoon Oregon Journal until it folded the paper into The Oregonian in 1982. I worked on the copy desk at the Journal until the spring of 1977 when I took a job as a temporary sportswriter for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier.
The temp job became permanent, and I was on my way to a career that gave me more enjoyment and fulfillment than I probably deserved.
Now comes this terrible news out of my hometown. The Eugene Register-Guard and the Salem Statesman-Journal — both owned by Gannett/GateHouse — have effectively become a regional newspaper covering the Willamette Valley, according to E&P. The Medford Mail-Tribune shut down earlier this year. All three of those publications once were award winners of the first order..
The Oregonian’s circulation numbers are about a tenth of what they once were. The paper’s sales continue to plummet. What’s next is the unthinkable: shutting it down altogether.