Oregonian slices home delivery, layoffs loom

A newspaper printing press (MGN Online, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregonian newspaper announced Thursday it is shifting its emphasis to digital delivery of news, that home delivery will be reduced and some staff will lose their jobs.

Daily home delivery of The Oregonian will be sliced to three days a week, with Saturday a bonus day, in changes announced by the paper on Thursday.

The front page of The Oregonian on the day they announced changes to home delivery and internal structure, June 20 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

The state’s largest newspaper will still be printed daily and distributed to metro areas. But home delivery will be reduced from seven days to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and a bonus edition on Saturday. Home delivery subscribers will be able to read a digital edition of the paper online seven days a week.

Publisher N. Christian Anderson III said in a statement published online that the company will be relaunched Oct. 1 as the Oregonian Media Group.

“We will continue to develop our digital products to better serve consumers,” Anderson said. “We seek to be at the forefront of how Oregonians get and use information. Even with the largest news organization and the largest news audience in the state, we must bring innovative ways of serving consumers to continue our growth.”

The Oregonian received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and four others, most recently in 2007 for breaking news.

Anderson said employees would begin to hear Thursday about their status with the company.

“While we believe these changes will create growth opportunities for our employees,” Anderson said, “the reality is that some employees will lose their jobs.”

Subscribers will be told about new rates in August.

The Oregonian’s shift comes as a growing number of people get their news online, turning away from traditional newspapers. The shift has cost newspaper companies printed advertising dollars, the lifeblood of the industry, and digital revenue has so far failed to keep pace with the loss of print ads.

The Oregonian is owned by Advance Publications, Inc. Similar steps have been taken at other Advance newspapers.

Advance’s strategy of shifting to digital content began in 2009, when the Ann Arbor News switched from a daily print schedule to printing only on Thursday and Sunday. In New Orleans, The Times-Picayune cut its print edition to three days a week and later supplemented that with a tabloid edition available in stores and newsstands on the days that the full newspaper isn’t printed.

The paper announced that Peter Bhatia, vice president and editor of The Oregonian, will be vice president of content for the new company. Barbara Swanson, vice president of sales of The Oregonian, and Hallie Janssen, vice president of marketing at the paper, will have the same roles for the Oregonian Media Group.

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