June 20th, 2013
And the Fourth Estate weathers another hit: The Oregonian reduces delivery of dead tree editions in favor of going digital
Okay, granted. I’m not very good at reading. And I get even worse at reading when folks are crafting roller coasters of content with excessive spin. But as near as I can deduce, The Oregonian—the major news outlet for Oregon—is reducing its physical delivery schedule in favor of focusing on more online content.
The Oregonian will continue to be published daily and sold at outlets in the Portland metropolitan area and elsewhere in the state and southwestern Washington. Home delivery will be Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and include the Saturday edition as a bonus. The Wednesday, Friday and Sunday editions will be enhanced with more content than current editions while the Saturday newspaper will have news and a strong emphasis on sports content, along with classified advertising. Those home delivery subscribers that choose the three-day subscription option will also have access to a digital edition seven days a week. Subscribers will be informed of the new rates in early August.
And it appears that they’re reducing staff, as well.
Beginning today, employees of OregonLive.com and The Oregonian are being informed of their status in the new companies. Anderson said the company will strive throughout this process to treat all employees with the professionalism and respect that they deserve.
While I realize that this may tend to inspire a bit of the “dance on the graves of the dead-tree media types,” I see this as nothing but an incredibly bad thing. Why?
All of us in the topical news industry won't be able to rely on the Oregonian to do as much of the journalistic heavy lifting as it has.
— Portland Afoot (@PortlandAfoot) June 21, 2013
1) The Oregonian has failed to find a sustainable business model for keeping the public informed.
‘Nuff said. This sucks. For everyone. If a massive organization like The Oregonian can’t figure out how to make a business of publishing news, what hope do others have?
2) The Oregonian has done an admirable job of increasing its coverage of the startup scene.
I’ve been in the Portland startup scene for nearly 20 years, and this is—by far—the most attention I’ve seen The Oregonian pay to startups. Some of you may say, “If they’re still publishing online, who cares?” Well, I care. The dead-tree edition reaches a far more diverse crowd than the online edition. And that reduction in delivery is a reduction in market and potential investors for the startups here in town.
3) A reduction in staff is never a good thing.
Like it or don’t, The Oregonian is the 800 lbs gorilla news outlet around here. And the staff is full of objective journalists. Losing that sort of expertise and insight is never a good thing.
4) Any erosion of the Fourth Estate is the opportunity for checks and balances to fail.
I am not a journalist. I am not objective. I’m a blogger. I’m purely—and admittedly—subjective. I rely on the Fourth Estate to provide the objectivity, journalism, and support of checks and balances that ensure that we’re getting the best information and services possible. Again, reducing this capacity is never a good thing.
I know. I know. I’m the first to trade barbs with traditional media. And to poke holes in their business models and what they choose to cover.
But long story short, anything that weakens The Oregonian weakens us all. And that isn’t something to be celebrated.
Good luck to those journalists who are being affected by this. I only hope that some good can come of this decision.