Local newspapers are caught in the Net

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

STATEWIDE Since 2005, Monday through Friday circulation has dropped by 33,000 at the Oregonian, 6,000 at the Salem Statesman Journal and 3,400 at the Eugene Register-Guard. At the same time the number of independent blogs based in Oregon is up to 1,600 and rising, and the nemesis of the newspaper industry, Craigslist,  has established vibrant online markets for its free classified and low-cost job ads in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Bend, the Oregon Coast and Medford-Ashland-Klamath.

With advertising revenues dropping, layoffs and buyouts are a constant threat. The Portland Tribune recently laid off the bulk of its copy editing team and two writers. The publisher and the editor for the tiny weekly Bandon Western World were replaced by one editor/publisher from Lee Enterprises, which runs 55 dailies and more than 300 non-dailies in 23 states. In Vancouver, the Columbian has eliminated 30 positions this year.

The Tribune’s most recent layoffs come as the paper moves to publishing once instead of twice a week while attempting to bolster its website, portlandtribune.com. One of the jobs lost in that transition was the fulltime web reporter.

The proliferation of information sources on the Internet has created fewer rather than more journalism positions. Oregon’s more successful blogs, such as Jack Bog’s Blog, Blue Oregon, and Bike Portland, draw around 40,000 page views per week, enough to bring in targeted advertising revenue. But even the hottest of the local blogs remain largely one-person enterprises, better suited for creating content than jobs.                           


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