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Monday, December 7, 2009

Sandy Rowe lays herself off

She'll be retiring as editor-in-chief of the O in a few weeks, Peter Bhatia will take her position, and Bhatia's current position as executive editor will be eliminated.

A new publisher, a new editor, and additional news staff layoffs due in February -- it will be interesting to see whether all the changes will result in a new point of view for Portland's monopoly daily newspaper. Certainly its coverage of local news will become even thinner, which is not a good thing; whether the paper will become more willing to challenge the local powers-that-be remains to be seen.

Comments (9)

Let me guess: the new publisher will raise rates, cut pages, cut reporters...and this will somehow convince more people to start reading the daily?

Her statement to the Oregonian staff should be instructive to every state and local gov't agency:

"Led by Chris, in early November we went back into the budgets, determined to ensure the company’s profitability in 2010, the essential ingredient to retain jobs and turn our focus from cutting to building."

Ummm, TO, not really sure you want government fixated on making a profit. It is helpful for people in government to learn from relevant examples set by businesses that do have the profit motive -- but government is not a for-profit entity and endangers us all when it forgets that or gets too close to those that are.

George Anonymuncule Seldes ... Efficiency my dear man. Efficiency is the point I believe you are missing here. Following the credo of free markets, cost centers should be reduced so as to promote greater efficiency (metaphorically, also, profits).

Not sure newspapers/media companies should be fixated on making profits either, although I firmly believe you can make a profit, if not a killing, and still serve the public good.

I used to work in the Knight-Ridder Corporation, which owned a group of big-city newspapers and is now defunct. It always amazed me that to Wall Street, 20 percent profit was NOT enough. It had to be 30 percent, like Gannett Corp.

When I worked for KR, it was quite profitable but, more important, it produced great journalism around the world.

To me, that always seemed the best of both worlds. But to Wall Street, it was NEVER enough. Year after year after year, the K-R managers had to implement the contigency budgets in March.

And, now, Knight-Ridder is no more, and the more profit-hungry newspaper chains are also going under.

Will society be better off? Well, not one that was founded on the basis of a free press.

Probably a bit off topic, but I have to agree with ThinkOregon. The purpose of government is to provide services to the taxpayers that (1) the government is constitutionally permitted to provide, (2)are prioritized in accordance with the desires of the taxpayers, (3) are provided only at the overall level the taxpayers collectively are willing to tax themselves at, and (4) are provided at the least possible cost to the taxpayers. Bob Wiggins

The next person running for Mayor should use Mr Wiggin's comments above to start a loud conversation. They should also include the line in Selde's comment:
"government is not a for-profit entity and endangers us all when it forgets that or gets too close to those that are."

These concepts should also be used in the recall effort to draw a contrast to the current group of imbiciles and show how far off task our city officials are.

The Oregonian folk have branched out into several slick special interest magazines catering to the trendy and upscale. The money isn't in the daily paper.

At the same time, their proofreading and editing has taken a nosedive. A couple of days ago, they reprinted the letters to the editor from the day before. Didn't get any new letters? Unlikely.

And don't get me started on those annoying page 1 advertising wraps.

I would like to hear from current Oregonian folks on whether they think Mr. Bhatia is the best choice to lead them in a journalism revolution.
He is more up-to-date than any pre-Rowe editors, but ahead of his time?

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