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‘OREGONIAN’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
June 25th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

1950 front page via portland.daveknows.com

Imagine a Portlandia sketch about people desperately seeking newspapers.

For dog training and bird cage lining. For papier-maché school crafts projects. For kinetic art pieces and retro fashion ensembles. For Wm. Burroughs-style “cut up” wordplay. For packing objets d’art and eBay shipments.

But there aren’t any newspapers to be had.

Not in the vending boxes. Not in the stores. Not in the attics.

Not even in the landfills—they’ve been picked clean of ’em.

The citizens are outraged. They form support groups. They exchange tips on where the rare newsprint can still be had.

Of course, they do all of this online.

That’s the scenario I imagined when I heard of the Newhouse/Advance Media chain’s latest cost-cutting spree.

You remember how Advance’s newspapers in Ann Arbor MI, Birmingham AL, and (most famously) New Orleans cut back their print issues to two or three days a week.

The New Orleans operation backtracked. This week it launched a tabloid called T-P Street on the regular Times-Picayune‘s off days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday). The Street papers will be sold in stores and vending boxes, but won’t be home-delivered.

That’s the tactic Advance is taking in Portland.

First, they registered a new corporate name, “Oregonian Media Group,” replacing “Oregonian Publishing Co.”

Then they immediately posted an announcement that claimed the new entity would “expand news and information products in Oregon and Southwest Washington.”

Of course, that “expansion” is really a contraction dressed up in corporate buzz-speak.

The print Oregonian is going newsstand-only three days a week this October, with home delivery offered four days a week. (Home-delivery subscribers will get full digital access to all editions.)

And at least 45 newsroom employees are losing their jobs. That’s about 22 percent of the paper’s current editorial workforce, which in turn is a little over half of its 1990s newsroom strength. Some 50 workers are being canned in other departments.

That reduction might not be the final total; at least a few new hires will replace high-senority people taking severance packages.

If you ask whether the Seattle Times could join the trend of papers only home-delivering part of the time, the answer is “maybe but it’s complicated.”

The Times took over the Everett Herald‘s home-delivery operation. If the now Sound Publishing-owned Herald wants to keep delivering every day, the Times is contractually obligated to do that delivering.

And if the Times has drivers and paperboys/girls in Snohomish and north King counties working every morning, it might as well have them in the rest of King County.


2 Responses  
  • Tony Armbrust writes:
    June 25th, 201312:30 pmat

    Advance/Newhouse’s layoffs extend beyond their print operations. I worked at their cable operation, Bright House Networks, at their sole West Coast outpost in California. Myself and a fellow coworker got laid off from the production department (commercials, local sports and programming) last year. Both of us are still looking for gainful employment.

  • Art Marriott AKA "Art Fart" writes:
    June 25th, 201312:33 pmat

    For that matter, the SeaTimes/EvHerald also prints and distributes the New York Times (and possibly other mega-city dailies with local subscribers). That’s essentially subsidizing Fairview Fannie’s giveaways of no-cost “trial subscriptions” to people many of whom (like us, for instance) have practically threatened to call the cops on them for littering our porches with their lousy rag.


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