By Kay Helbling
As the automotive engine was to horse power, online news is to the traditional newspaper. It may be a consequence of the economy, demographics, life style changes, frustration with biases in reporting, or the perfect storm of all these. Whatever the reason, there has been a definitive shift.
The move of readers and advertisers to the internet is jeopardizing local news services all across Oregon. Lee Enterprises which publishes the Albany Democrat Herald, the Coos Bay World, and the Corvallis Gazette Times are having trouble refinancing loans.
Many papers are making delivery, format, and budget changes to bridge the gap. The Tidings, West Linn’s local paper, is narrowing the size of their paper, saving material and printing costs. The Klamath Falls Herald is resizing and suspending delivery of their Monday print edition. Monday’s regular features will be integrated into the Sunday paper.
The Statesman Journal has taken a pragmatic approach based on market research. After strong indicators pointed them toward more local, focused news. In the past week, they have announced content changes. Classifieds will be in print only two days and online the rest of the week. With the number of advertisers diminishing, some sections of the paper will be combined or cut back, saving page count.
The metro giants in Oregon and Washington have felt the sting. After 25 years, the Oregonian will no longer be the daily paper for Baker County. The extra cost to deliver to outlying areas was no longer economically feasible. Except for its Sunday edition, the farthest East the Oregonian will truck their papers will be to The Dalles.
In January, the Seattle PI announced more drastic measures. Having incurred operating losses for the last ten years, the Hearst Corporation which has owned the PI since 1921, decided to put it up for sale. If a new owner is not found by April 1, the PI has announced it will stop print editions and report only through their online site.
Oregon’s corner newsstands may be a dying breed, but in the true spirit of Oregon individualism, with every crisis comes an opportunity. The OregonReport foresaw the coming information gap, and like others that will follow, is filling that gap. Online news may take a new shape, it may come in a new form but it will breathe life back into the world of news.
Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband
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