Oregon Media

It's the Portland Tribune's fifth birthday, though they've been struggling lately. The Oregonian has redesigned and reorganized to provide what it calls "high-definition" news. The Willamette Week has won a Pulitzer, and other local papers 'round the state seem to be doing well. KPOJ's progressive talk radio continues to soar in the Portland media market and KOPT is doing well down-state. Local television continues to confound progressives.

So let's talk about what's missing in our state's media universe. What's going well - and what's not? Are you happy with the media mix available to you? If not, why not - and what do you want?

Discuss.

Comments

  • Phen (unverified)
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    KPOJ's progressive talk radio continues to soar in the Portland media market and KOPT is doing well down-state.

    I'm glad to hear these stations are doing well, but wonder how we know. Is there any information available on their ratings growth or other performance metrics?

    I'm happier with the local hosts than some of the national ranters, however. Some of them are just as bad as Limbaugh and Hannity when putting down the opposition as nitwits. Seems to me what we need is more rational discourse that helps us coalesce around a leadership agenda, not just "red" baiting.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    Good post Phen!!! I rarely listen to any talk radio. The only national host I've run across who isn't a flaming ranter is Tony Snow and I tire easily of listening to his dumb azz listeners.

    Baghdad Randy is an abomination and of course Rush and Hannity are even worse (though barely). I'll check out KPOJ.

    I don't have a real problem with the mainstream media in this area. The Oregonian seems to play the middle ground. A newspaper who is detested by those on the radical left and Lars and company on the radical right is probably striking the right balance.

    As for local TV....do you really expect much of anything from them? The competition between KATU, KOIN, and KGW is focused on the weather and sports segments.....and the occasional live story using helicopters. Nothing that isn't bland and VERY middle road will be covered in their news segments. Sponsors like it that way.

  • Robert Ted Hinds (unverified)
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    The media consolidation that has occured over the last decade in the wake of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and departure from the Fairness Doctrine has been extremely detrimental to the City of Portland. The parent company of The Oregonian, Advance Publications, is owned by the Si Newhouse family, a contributor to AIPAC and the Bush Administration. The appearance of The Oregonian and OregonLive.com are almost identical to Advance's other two major city dailies--The Cleveland Plain-Dealer and New Orleans Times-Picayune.

    Consider that on October 20, 2005, the U.S. government's independent General Accounting Office released a report confirming multiple instances of election fraud in the 2004 presidential election. The report was recognized by a bipartisan group of Congressmen the day of the report. The mainstream media throughout the U.S., including the "liberal" NY Times and Washington Post, have yet to cover the story. Portland is a city that went 78% for John Kerry. Certainly, there would be overwhelming interest on the part of The Oregonian's "home town" readership; yet not a word.

    Indeed, when the U.S. media finally acknowledged the Downing Street Memo some five weeks after the incendiary story erupted in Europe, The Oregonian was equally guilty of not picking up the story.

    While the Willamette Week has, for example, published Sonoma State University's revered 'Project Censored' top stories in a few editions in the past, it is hardly an anti-thesis to the Modern Republican slant and selectivity evident in The Oregonian and Portland Tribune. Portland needs a free and impartial press that is willing to embrace tough, investigative journalism; one of the cornerstones of democracy.

  • Patty (unverified)
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    To my mind, there is a dearth of political coverage in Oregon. Look at what has happened to the Salem desk of Associated Press with the departure of Chuck Beggs. They have not replaced him and have no plans to as far as I know. That leaves Brad Cain on his own with back up from Julia Silverman. They are both great but they are only human. They cannot come close to covering everything they need to.

    The same is happening with other papers. WW doesn't have a state government / state politics beat reporter. Other papers are cutting back on political coverage. And don't get me started on TV news. There are still some excellent TV reporters in this town who want to do the kinds of stories that will actually inform voters. And many of their news directors would give them the green light if they could. But the consultants say we TV watchers don't want real news. We want puppys and crime and entertainment updates. You know, all the stuff that's critical to our democracy.

    And finally, I'll join the chorus of those lamenting that too often the political coverage we do get is shortchanged on policy explanations in favor of partisan pigeonholing and horse race stories.

    That's the down side. On the upside, we are very lucky in Portland at least, that we have real news rooms at commercial stations. For example, KINK and KEX. Also, our public radio stations in Oregon are nationally renowned, both OPB and KLCC. And overall our press corps is informed, accessible and fair. I just wish there were more of them and they had more space and broadcast time to do their stuff.

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)
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    I'll just jump in to second Charlie from Gresham's call on The O. If you think it's really bad or really biased, you haven't dabbled much in the "local" media nationwide. The O is pretty good for what it is. And I think Charlie's got the "bias" argument fundamentally correct as well. Look at who's bagging on them and ask why before joining the chorus.

    We need as many outlets devoted to the priniciple of fair coverage of events as we can support; failing outlets that turn a profit, we need people willing to lose money, or to make very, very little just to get out information free of an advocacy agenda. I count the second part of that sentence a long-term project of mine.

    KPOJ, based on what I've heard, is not much to celebrate. Listening to right-wing talk radio has yet to make anyone smarter and I don't view the mirror image project as an improvement in terms of educating the public. I think the public interest is best served by breaches in the competing echo chambers; the more holes, the merrier.

  • tk (unverified)
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    KPOJ is no NPR, but opinionated mouthpieces don't equal Rush or Hannity either. Thom Hartman is extremely smart and manages to pull together invective backed up with historical facts and perspective. Randi Rhodes, Laura Flanders, and Sam Seder may be opinionated, but they're light years more credible than most right-wing radio personalities.

    As far as local TV news, KGW is far and away better, yet it doesn't say much for the state of our city. KOIN used to feel 'big city'... well produced and professional. Now they have the look and feel of a Eugene affiliate. KATU? So hit and miss, maybe a notch above KOIN.

    It's sad to say, but I have found the Willy Week has consistently better muckraking pieces than the O. The O saves its wrath for issues that will stir Lars listeners into flailing idiots. Or anything that may play into suburbanites fears of the 'big bad city'. Read: anything concerning land-use laws, public employee wages, or any negative slant on liberal sacred cows. But they run NOTHING concerning the influence peddlers in this town, the Portland Business Association, or other moneyed GOPers.

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    Oregon Live is indeed basically the same as every other Advance Internet site-- they have a template that everyone has to use. Apparently they've introduced a variation to that theme, which Oregon Live is using. But it's like putting purfume on dog crap-- it's still shit.

    I used to work for Oregon Live and I tried hard to make changes. I had a lot of great ideas-- I went to the local people with them, and upon learning everything was controlled in NJ, I went to them. I never even got a response.

    There is so much more that could be done with Oregon Live and the Oregonian that they refuse to do. I know the local people would like to do more (at least at Oregon Live), but their hands are tied. That's the problem when your local news is owned by someone on the other side of the country.

    It's the same problem with our local weekly, the Gresham Outlook. It's more of a magazine on newsprint than it is a newspaper. I'm always shocked if there is more than one news story on the front page. It's mostly feature stories.

    My background is in community newspapers (as a reporter and a managing editor), so I know what they can be. I helped to vastly increase the readership of a paper I was the managing editor for in 1996. That increased readership more than doubled the advertising dollars-- and the only increase in costs was when our paper was thicker than normal. And that was offset by the fact that my pay was a lot lower than they usually paid their managing editor.

    How did I do this? I covered local news. The paper was filled with reports on the school board, city council, school athletic events, kids' community athletic events (Little League, T-Ball, etc.). Somebody win some award? The senior citizens group doing something new? The chamber give out their monthly awards? We covered it all.

    Each week one of the parents would bring me in pictures from the girls' softball games, the stats, etc. I would then put together a story about the girls. Previously the paper would just have a box score that took about 1 column in width and 2" in height. Now they had a story and pictures plus the box score.

    I did the same with other sports, attending games when I could.

    I sat in the dugout with our h.s. baseball and softball teams, and near the bench with our basketball team.

    Not only did the parents/families of those kids start reading the paper, but those with businesses started advertising in the paper.

    It's amazing what you can do by actually covering the community you report it. It's a bit harder for the Oregonian, as they cover a greater area, but it isn't impossible.

    The Gresham Outlook doesn't seem to understand it either, or else they don't care. That's why I hope in the next 2-3 years to start my own paper in eastern Multnomah/Clackamas County. With almost 100,000 people in Gresham (plus all the surrounding smaller cities), we could easily have a paper that comes out a few times a week and focuses just on local stuff.

    But more and more newspapers have gotten to where all they care about is advertising. If only they would realize that if you make your readers happy, you sell more papers, and therefore you sell more ads (and can charge more too!).

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    The Big O has some good reporters. Too bad the editorial board and/or publisher enforces the pro-power structure stance of the paper.

    The Trib has recently exposed itself for what it is: same masters as the Oregonian with out the good reporters. They do have great photo quality, though.

    Willy Week does some invaluable reporting, although they do print some silly cover stories at times.

    KPOJ rocks! There is no way to counter the rightie ranters except with leftie ranters. Tom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and Laura Flanders present issues from the most informed viewpoints I have heard on commercial media. Yes, Randi can be grating at times. Compared to the obnoxious jackasses of rightwing radio, she is sweetness and light.

    KOPB is one of the most progressive NPR affiliates in the nation.

    KBOO is a treasure.

  • Mitchell Santine Gould (unverified)
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    I for one am happy about the St John's Sentinel.

    I am amazed by the consistently high quality of their reporting and their ability to cover so many real trends and issues in North Portland.

    If you haven't seen the paper, it's like a small, local Portland Tribune (which is a good thing), but with deeper human values.

  • Sandy D (unverified)
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    It's the St. John's REVIEW.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    "If you think it's really bad or really biased, you haven't dabbled much in the "local" media nationwide. The O is pretty good for what it is."

    Having lived in other parts of the country, that isn't really true unless the comparison is to other parochial right-wing papers. In that case I agree. But the Oregonian is really the paper of record for most of Oregon and parts of SW Washington and it self-consciously exercises that power to influence public debate. Oregonian reporters take their cues from the editorial page, those that don't aren't there very long. There is a reason why Packwood, Hatfield, Goldschmidt stories weren't covered. And there is a reason that once the Oregonian editorial board focuses on a story, their reporters are looking for angles to cover it.

    We all cheer when the Oregonian is on our side and when they adopt our angle on a story, and we are all mad when they don't. But if we step back and look at their coverage, it is almost never complete or objective. It reflects only the Oregonian's point of view.

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