Last week during a presentation at a Philomath Rotary Club meeting, I talked about the state of news from a business perspective —mostly my own experiences with the Philomath News but also what we’re seeing in the traditional newspaper industry.
The Medford Mail Tribune surprised many of us in the business by shutting down on Jan. 13. The move came just a couple of months after the newspaper had announced it was ceasing print operations in favor of an online-only product. The newspaper was formed in 1909 through the merger of the Medford Mail and Medford Tribune.
“Unfortunately, industry-wide reductions, and in some cases, complete elimination of national advertising spends for newspapers (digital or printed editions), coupled with rising costs of content and the difficulty of hiring staff and managers, have made continuing the Mail Tribune unsustainable,” publisher Steven Saslow announced on the newspaper’s website.
On Friday, EO Media Group announced its plan to establish a news operation next month in Medford and Ashland. The company publishes 15 newspapers around the region, including the Bend Bulletin. According to a story published by Oregon Public Broadcasting, EO Media plans to launch as an online-only product but will eventually have three printed editions per week.
The Grants Pass Daily Courier had also announced plans to expand its coverage into Medford. As a result, in the aftermath of the Mail Tribune’s closure, we may actually see competition on the news beat down there.
Closer to home, Lee Enterprises, which publishes the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald, has been making some noteworthy moves that affect Philomath. A few weeks ago, several folks said they received a note from their G-T carrier that the paper would no longer be delivered as of mid-January.
So, the G-T is now sent to Philomath customers through the mail, which is not a same-day delivery situation with readers receiving it a day or two late. The company encourages readers to read the latest news online but I know it was not a popular move among those who enjoy reading the current edition of the paper each morning with a cup of coffee.
Mike McInally, former publisher of the Gazette-Times and Democrat-Herald who writes a blog at mikemcinally.com and occasionally writes for the Philomath News, keeps a close eye on the newspaper industry. He shared a few other recent moves by Lee Enterprises.
For example, he wrote about the closure of the Lebanon Express weekly newspaper, which has served that community for nearly 136 years. As many of you know, Lee Enterprises closed the Philomath Express in 2020.
In addition, McInally wrote that the G-T/D-H daily operation laid off two newsroom veterans, including a photographer who has been shooting Philomath events and news for several years. The news editor was the other staff casualty. (You can read McInally’s Weekend Reader here).
As far as Philomath News and our well-being in this digital world, the comfort level is not quite there yet from a revenue standpoint — but it’s within reach. In all honesty, the support I’ve received over the past 25 months from readers has exceeded expectations. We’re getting there.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).