By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Threatened tragedy draws slow reaction

Here at the newspaper, we like to think we understand the nuances of “public interest.” I have to confess to being fooled this week by relatively limited public reaction to a bloodcurdling story about credible threats of mayhem and murder at Newberg High School.

The story plays prominently in today’s issue, but it already has gone through several news cycles and multiple updates this week on the Internet. That’s where I was surprised.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Two weeks ago, we first reported that two Newberg students were taken into custody after authorities uncovered “a threat of violence against Newberg High School.” That was the extent of detail available then, and we reported that a full threat assessment was underway.

Frankly, I almost forgot about that earlier story, that is, until Tuesday’s revelation of graphic plans for mass murder at Newberg High. As I first read about the young man’s journal, the target list, and his quest for guns and bombs, I thought we would see a viral outpouring of public interest on the Internet.

I was wrong.

It’s not that there was no interest. The story slowly moved up our “most viewed” list over the past few days, reaching 3,000 views and still rising Thursday morning. However, to that time, only two reader comments had been posted online.

In February, our online story about a donkey basketball game drew 3,300 reader views and 30 comments. A recent story about an armed robbery attracted more than 5,000 views. 

Wednesday, the Newberg Graphic published a highly detailed online account of the averted tragedy. As of Thursday morning, it had drawn a single reader comment, the same appearing on our Facebook listing of the story.

Interestingly, the story received major coverage online by the Daily Mail in London, but also displayed a single reader comment. The same day, the Mail’s story about Prince Andrew ramming park gates drew 240 reader comments.

I suppose it’s understandable that the public might take a “no harm, no foul” approach to this article. On the other hand, perhaps the specter of school shootings has become so commonplace in America that we just take it all in stride, even when a threat of unspeakable tragedy materializes next door.

It’s a story that will continue, with a trial scheduled for mid-April. And while people breathe a sigh of relief that the plan was thwarted, one wonders what you do when someone only threatens.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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