Posts Taged the-oregonian

Business Needs Newspapers Too

The media’s been buzzing about John Oliver’s recent Last Week Tonight segment on modern journalism. You really ought to watch it yourself (beware a healthy dose of profanity), but the gist is not exactly breaking news: traditional newspapers are in big trouble. Faced with plummeting ad revenue and a public increasingly used to free, 24-hour news, papers are cutting qualified, capable journalists, and in exchange for clickbait. As Oliver quipped, “All the puppy news that’s fit to print and maybe some Iraq news, too, if we can afford it”

Why newspapers matter

But Oliver also emphasizes how dependent he and other online and TV reporters are on the legwork of journalists. And he explains that investigative journalists provide a valuable public service by keeping corruption in check and policing the powerful. Dropping readership or not, they can still have enormous impact. Last year we saw it in our own backyard: Though allegations of corruption in the office of Governor John Kitzhaber had been spreading for months, he only stepped down once The Oregonian, Portland’s leading paper, called for his departure.

Why newspapers matter to business

Oliver’s segment emphasized the value that newspaper journalism has for society and the general public, but he could have also discussed its importance for the business world. The A.wordsmith team turns to a range of outlets, but working with print media is an essential part of the PR toolbox. A.wordsmith clients, whether they realize it or not, benefit from local newspapers as individual citizens and as members of the business world.

It’s hard to say whether this will do anything to steer the newspaper industry in a new direction. Regardless, Oliver’s message is loud and clear: “A big part of the blame for this industry’s dire straits is on us and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce.”

Changes in The Oregonian’s Editorial Policies to Significantly Impact Local News Content


New expectations for Oregonian reporters

The media landscape has been ever shifting toward the Web, a move that has been seen as reflective of reader preferences and cost savings. As newsrooms are continuing to see massive headcount cuts, journalists are increasingly in a fight for their jobs, which are so often now measured by digital metrics around online reads and shares.

The Oregonian is not immune.

According to documents secured by Willamette Week, the already stretched-thin reporters at The Oregonian have a new set of worries: a quota system is being put in place that calls for steep increases in posting to, with beat reporters expected to post at least three times a day, and all reporters expected to increase their average number of posts by 40 percent over the next year. The document goes on to show that as much as 75 percent of a reporters’ job performance will be based on measurable web-based metrics. The Oregonian will hand out yearly bonuses—if the finances of the company allows it—to reporters who exceed these goals. The policy says “final performance ratings will determine merit pay.”

“Digital first”

These changes are not entirely surprising. In October, the publication became a “digital first” outlet, with news stories posted first to, then slotted into a print edition the following day. In June 2013, the publication announced it would reduce print delivery to four times per week and that it would cut 100 of the paper’s 650 employees. These layoffs fell disproportionately on the newsroom: As many of 49 reporters, editors, designers and photographers – nearly a quarter of the remaining news staff – were cut.

Outside observers say that The Oregonian’s editorial policies’ online-based standards, coupled with reduced staff, will have a significant impact on the type of news readers will receive.

New York Times business reporter David Carr examined the change the The Oregonian’s editorial policies in his Monday column, “Risks Abound as Reporters Play in Traffic,” in which he said: “And journalism’s status as a profession is up for grabs. A viral hit is no longer defined by the credentials of an individual or organization. The media ecosystem is increasingly a pro-am affair, where the wisdom — or prurient interest — of the crowd decides what is important and worthy of sharing.”

My heart goes out to the reporters at The Oregonian, and as a reader I fear this does not bode well for the quality and integrity of the content they will be forced to produce. As the media world continues to try and find its footing in this new digital environment I’m afraid this shift at in The Oregonian’s editorial policies will later be analyzed in b-school case studies and in the board rooms of media conglomerates alike. Whether or not The Oregonian will be a success story or an epic failure is yet to be seen.

The Oregonian’s editorial policies

ILLUSTRATION: Kevin Mercer, Willamette Week

The End of the Print Era: Where Do We Go from Here?

shake up at the Oregonian

Last week’s shake up at The Oregonian

In 2013, it is no surprise to see a publication move away from print to focus more heavily on online content, but it still stings each time I see it happen. Last week’s shake up at The Oregonian is a good reminder of the ever evolving ways we receive news and as a PR professional, how it’s even more important to define the story we are telling.

For anyone who may not be following the recent news (or are living under a rock), the Oregonian announced it will scale back its printed paper delivery service to just a few days a week and cut more than 100 of the 650 jobs at the publication. While this is a shock to the system, it is a good opportunity for us to step back and reevaluate how we be innovative in this new landscape.

shake up at the Oregonian

The Oregonian Building, which houses the newspaper.

A wake-up call for Oregon?

There’s no question that getting cover in print newspapers is a lot harder than it used to be. With fewer reporters, most don’t even cover a single beat anymore. Also, most newspapers have a much smaller news hole – even when pitching a decent story to a reporter, sometimes there just isn’t enough room. The latest cuts out of the Oregonian is a wake-up call. As the media continues to evolve, I think the PR industry has a good opportunity to be the one innovating and steering the conversation with reporters. Whether this comes in the form of selecting just a few reporters to build strong relationships with, tapping into social media to showcase your news or going down the avenue of contributing articles, it is our job to be influential. If content is king, then PR is queen. What do you do to stay relevant in your relationships with the media?