Will the Oregonian be the next Advance paper to reduce print?

Willamette Week
A newsroom source tells Willamette Week reporter Aaron Mesh that Oregonian staffers are “living with the reality that any day might be the day when the people from Jersey walk in.”

For years, editors and executives at The Oregonian denied Portland’s newspaper would ever be less than a daily. But in the newsroom, the announcement in New Orleans shattered any illusions.

Staffers here say Oregonian editors now indicate the paper is likely to follow suit, although no one is saying when that will happen or how many days the newspaper will drop from its publishing schedule.

Like The Times-Picayune, The (Mobile) Press-Register and the Flint Journal, The Oregonian is owned by Advance Publications. And like those papers, The Oregonian is online via Advance’s standard Web treatment, a bloggy homepage that doesn’t speak to the printed paper. Unlike those papers, The Oregon has no plans to cut staff and print frequency, publisher N. Christian Anderson III tells Mesh.

Several sources tell WW that The Oregonian newsroom is being restructured to make its affiliated website, OregonLive.com, the first priority, with staffers evaluated primarily on their online productivity. A recent memo from editor Peter Bhatia said six new positions would be created to feed the Web—a move away “from our traditional devotion to print deadline work at night.”

The piece also quotes Advance Digital honcho Steve Newhouse, who told “a Poynter reporter” Advance is “facing the same conditions everywhere. We’re looking at every market and trying to figure out what the right model is.” According to the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations numbers, The Oregonian’s Sunday circulation rose less than 1 percent over 2011, and its daily circulation was down about 5 percent.

Advance’s NJ.com went to the bloggy design Tuesday. Two executives from AnnArbor.com, where Advance first took dramatic steps to transform one of its newspapers, started working in New Jersey in June, fueling staff worries about the company’s plans for its New Jersey papers. (An Advance exec told those folks to chill.)

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland has a no-layoff pledge through January 2013, Guild official Harlan Spector told Poynter in May, after the Times-Picayune cuts were announced. “But no one’s naïve enough to think that we’re going to be spared for eternity the ravages, the things that have happened to other people.”

Related: Steve Newhouse explains Michigan transition, Times-Picayune future | Newhouse on New Orleans changes: ‘There’s every reason to be upset and angry, but…’

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