I think “The Oregonian” should change its name

Oregon has only one major newspaper: The Oregonian. If you want to have a clue what’s going on, you have to read it at least part of the time.

The Eugene Register Guard and the Salem Statesman Journal would like to be major newspapers. They just don’t quite get there.

But The Oregonian’s name is now misleading. It no longer represents or even presents the values of the residents of the state. It should be renamed The Portland Journal or some such thing.

The Oregonian has been gradually abandoning large parts of the state. Delivery services have been stopped in such places as Wallowa County and the valley I live in. Of course, you can get a mail subscription if you don’t mind your paper costing more and being a few days late. But lately it’s been hard to even buy one if I drive an hour to town to get it.

More than half of the residents of Oregon live in the Portland metro area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties), as I think I noted previously. But these areas comprise about 10%, possibly less, of the physical area of Oregon. They exclude the grain belt, the cattle ranchers, the timber lands, and other significant portions of Oregon commerce and real estate.

And The Oregonian seems content to ignore all of these.

But here is the latest umbrage-invoking act:

The Oregonian has created a group called “Community Writers.” In this Sunday’s paper, they introduced them.

The group was announced with a lot of folderol. This group, the newspaper said, would be diverse and represent the widest possible interests in the state. They would be encouraged to speak bluntly about what was on their minds and not be censored by the editorial staff.

Then came the profiles of the 12 people selected. Forget the obvious fact that this is, for the most part, a very lily-white group. There is one person under 30, and, if memory serves me well, two people over 50.

But there is only one person who lives more than an hour’s drive from Portland. There are two more who arguably live in smaller towns outside the immediate urban conglomerate known as the greater Portland area. But Hood River and McMinneville are still close enough to Portland (less than an hour) to be engaged in that area on a regular basis.

Where are the real representatives of the rural areas of the state? MIA, that’s where.

The editorial staff of The Oregonian seems to be completely out of touch with about half of the state’s population. And they seem content to have it so.

So maybe I’m just spitting into the wind here, but it seems to me that the fair thing to do would be for the paper to change its name to something that more accurately reflects what it represents. Full disclosure and all, you know.

The Oregonian it ain’t. Not any more.

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4 Responses to “I think “The Oregonian” should change its name”

  1. Brent Says:

    Well, you last few posts tell me you certainly have found your voice again (which is a good thing).

    Maybe you should send this in to The Oregonian (we already have a Portland Journal).

    What would you do differently on measure 49? I see that you did not like it, but you did not offer a different solution…

  2. Lisa Hostick Says:

    I’ll second that….send this in to the editorial dept.

  3. Marianne Says:

    Lisa, I frankly doubt that they give a rip. It’s not worth the effort.

  4. Marianne Says:

    Brent, you’re right about the Journal. I used to read it regularly when I was in the metro area. We never see it here. . .

    I think Measure 49 was deliberately written in an obfuscatory manner. But that’s not my real objection.

    My real objection is to the concept of one-size-fits-all land use planning. The needs of Harney County are very different than the needs of Multnomah County.

    This problem goes back more than 30 years to the establishment of the LCDC (Land Conservation and Development Council [Committee?] for you non-Oregonians out there). The idea that a statewide bureacracy centered in the Willamette Valley can adequately understand and address the needs of the entire state is a fallacy to begin with. This is definitely one of those areas in which driving the decision closer to the affected folks should offer far superior results.

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