| American Journalism Review
| From AJR, January/February 2001|
New twice-weekly paper to compete with Oregonian.
By Nora Koch
Nora Koch is a former AJR editorial assistant.
C ONTRARY TO THE TREND in the business, Portland, Oregon, is about to become a two-newspaper town.
Come February, the free Portland Tribune will take on the Oregonian twice a week with an editorial staff of 27, some snagged from the Oregonian, the Associated Press, the local business journal and the alternative weekly.
The Tribune is the latest acquisition in Robert B. Pamplin Jr.'s local media empire, which includes 12 suburban weeklies, five monthly publications and two AM radio stations. The downtown paper, part of Pamplin Communications, will emphasize local flavor in its 36 pages of sports, business, living and news sections, says Dwight Jaynes, a longtime newspaperman who is president of the Tribune.
"We'll have a little more time to reflect and analyze the news than perhaps a daily newspaper," says Jaynes, a 25-year veteran of Portland news who covered sports and wrote columns for the Oregonian before he left to do a talk show for Pamplin's radio station. "The real tangible result, we hope, is that we will make the Oregonian better. Competition is good if it makes overall newspapers in this town better."
Editor Roger Anthony says the paper will have time on its side. "[W]e're going to be able to take a series of events and collate it...[and] look at stories a little more holistically." Jaynes anticipates a 50-50 ad-news split.
With the upstart, Pamplin's three-armed media company will dole out breaking news over radio waves, community news in the weeklies and monthlies, and in-depth regional and national news in the Portland Tribune, says Jaynes. The newspaper's launch will coincide with an online version. Reporters will be encouraged to "cross-pollinate," and print reporters will be able to break stories on the radio.
Jaynes and Pamplin say they've hit on the future of how people want to get news. "I think they want to access it through radio, which is instant.... By the time a daily gets out with the morning news, it could be history," Pamplin says. "People want to be associated with their own communities, and I believe people want that to be the center of their print media, rather than the national news."
Pamplin's 18 publications, collected in two major purchases in August and November, will have a combined circulation of 400,000.
Peter Bhatia, executive editor of the 348,468-circulation Oregonian, says he's taking Pamplin's new paper seriously. "We obviously are the established newspaper in Portland and have a talented and deep staff here that we're very fortunate to have, but we're certainly not taking the new paper for granted in any way, shape or form," he says. "Competition is a good thing, and the fact that some of the people there know us and that we know them is an interesting twist. It's gonna be fun."
Editor Anthony left his staff writer position at the Oregonian after more than two decades with the daily to head up the new newsroom. "It's not very often that you're given the clay dumped on the table in front of you and told to mold it," he says of why he made the jump. "The fun of being on the ground floor, the romance of being the underdog, and the chance to be a bigger player at a smaller company--I think all of that is part of the equation here."###
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