Cutbacks Threaten Three Prominent Oregon Newspapers

UPDATE (Aug. 12, 2022): In a late move on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, executed layoffs at outlets across the country. While no official tally was available, journalists at the Salem Statesman Journal (Oregon), Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald, (South Texas) Caller-Times, Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune, Ventura County Star, St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, Monroe (Louisiana) News-Star, Billerica (Massachusetts) Minuteman, (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel, Panama City (Florida) News-Herald, Gainesville Sun (Florida), The Athens Banner-Herald (Georgia) The Des Moines Register (Iowa), Burlington Free Press(Vermont), Beaver County Times (Iowa), MetroWest Daily News (Mass) and the (Kentucky) Courier Journal all reported layoffs at their publications. Friday’s layoffs also affected non-journalists. A reporter at the Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftain tweeted that the paper’s only customer service representative, who had been making less than a dollar above minimum wage, had been let go after working there for 16 years.

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The decline of Oregon’s local newspapers is set to continue with cutbacks by Gannett Co.

Gannett, the owner of the Statesman Journal in Oregon’s capital, Salem, The Register-Guard in Eugene and the Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland, is planning a “significant cost reduction program” amid a “challenging economic backdrop marred by soaring inflation rates, labor shortages and price-sensitive consumers.”

A message to all of its employees on Thursday from Gannett’s president of news warned of “painful reductions to staffing, eliminating some open positions and roles that will impact valued colleagues.”

The Statesman Journal, the second-oldest newspaper in Oregon, was sold to Gannett in 1973. Currently listing 16 reporters on its website, it has been steadily shrinking in staff and as a reliable news source.

The Register-Guard, formed in a 1930 merger of two Eugene papers, the Eugene Daily Guard and the Morning Register, was acquired by GateHouse Media in 2018. At the time, the paper had 240 full-and part-time employees. The newspaper has been owned by Gannett since Gannett’s 2019 merger with Gatehouse. The paper’s current website lists just 8 reporters. 

Founded in 1872, the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) provides comprehensive resources and reporting on the Portland, Oregon building and construction market. Owned by Gannett through its BridgeTower Media division, the paper has a circulation of 1,966.

Gannet, which owns over 100 daily newspapers and nearly 1,000 weekly newspapers in 43 U.S. states and six countries, reported on Thursday a net loss of $53.7 million in the second quarter, compared with a net income of $15.1 million the same period a year earlier. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totaled $50.9 million, down 56% from the prior-year quarter, with declines driven by a decline in print revenue and inflationary pressures. 

“We are not satisfied with our overall performance in the second quarter,” Gannett CEO and Chairman Michael Reed said in a release, noting the results reflect “industry-wide headwinds” in digital advertising and tightening across the economy.  

Anticipated cutbacks at Gannett’s Oregon papers would track declines in locally focused daily newspapers across the United States.

The total combined print and digital circulation for locally focused U.S. daily newspapers in 2020 was 8.3 million for weekday (Monday-Friday) and 15.4 million for Sunday, among the lowest ever reported, according to the Pew Research Center. Total weekday circulation is down more than 40% and total Sunday circulation has fallen 45% in the past seven years. Local newspaper advertising and circulation revenue has also been dropping precipitously.


Salem, OR salon owner turning COVID-19 shutdown protest into cash

Lindsey

Lindsey Graham (Source: KPTV.com)

Lindsey Graham, operator of Glamour Salon in Salem. OR, has figured out how to make money off her defiance of Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Graham reopened her salon on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, saying she had to make the move to pay her bills and provide for her family.

Conveniently, she started a GoFundMe account the day before, on May 4, prior to government action in response to her salon’s reopening.

“Our family businesses have been shut down by the government,” the account said. “No income for our family and next to nothing in govt assistance. Please help our family fight for our American rights and save our hard earned dreams. The govt has strong armed us, threatened us, and come after our family. We are taking a STAND and the legal battle ahead of us will be long and tough. We appreciate ALL your support in every way!!”

Graham set the GoFundMe account’s goal at $70,000. As of Friday afternoon, May 28, it had raised $71,070. Ten contributors had given $500 or more, one gave $2000. Not a bad haul. And not only can Graham spend the money pretty much however she wants, but it may not even be taxable income.

On May 14, Graham posted to the account that Oregon OSHA had fined her $14,000 and demanded she close the salon’s doors.

“This is not only unconstitutional, but unlawful and unjust,” Graham posted.
Please share this…..I will be FIGHTING this citation and fighting their case. I’m retaining my attorney to take this to court!!!! The government cannot find their own loopholes to punish me for trying to earn a living.
Please support my cause and help me fight!!!!”

In pleading for financial support from the public, Graham is copying a tactic employed by Shelley Luther, the Dallas, TX owner of Salon à la Mode who was arrested on April 24, 2020 for opening her business despite COVID-19 restrictions.

GoFundMe site to help her went live on April 23, 2020, the day before her arrest.

“Shelley Luther is an American Hero that has decided to resist tyranny by opening her business against an unlawful State Executive Order,” read the description for the Shelly Luther Fund campaign.

A fellow Texan, Rick Hire, said the Woke Patriots organization was behind the campaign. In a 30-minute May 9  YouTube video, Hire says he founded the organization to deal with challenges to constitutional rights and the group picked Luther to be the first beneficiary of a GoFundMe campaign.

The GoFundMe site was a hit right out of the gate. When an initial goal of $250,000 was rapidly surpassed, the goal was raised to $500,000. The total raised now sits at $500,040 and the window for donations has closed.

Who knows? Lindsey Graham may hit the jackpot, too.