By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

From the publisher: Big changes are coming to the News-Register

##News-Register President and Publisher Jeb Bladine
##News-Register President and Publisher Jeb Bladine

What has already changed?

Last year The New York Times reported: “Overall, 2,500 newspapers in the United States — a quarter of them — have closed since 2005. The country is set up to lose one-third of its newspapers by 2025. And in many places, the surviving local media outlets have made major cuts to staff and circulation.”

It’s true. In recent years, chain ownerships have acquired surviving community newspapers in bargain sales; attained payback by eliminating management and most reporting staff; and will, when finances dictate, discard many of them onto the scrapheap of journalism history.

Why? Because the traditional business model for newspapers is broken.

That model, until 30 years ago, was revenue from advertising sales (80 percent) and subscription sales (20 percent). Local advertising dollars slowly, then more rapidly, moved to the Internet, social media, direct mail, cable television and ad-only publications. The result, over the past eight years, was a 40-50 percent reduction in advertising revenue.

Entire categories of advertising previously delivered in the newspaper business have mostly disappeared: department store, grocery, automotive, real estate, furniture and others. Those losses, thankfully, have been partially offset by some popular special newspaper sections that have been supported by the local business community.

Subscription sales remained relatively stable, but that portion of newspaper revenues has been sliced and diced by ever-increasing costs of production. And as print publications shrank, closed or converted to digital, our Oregon Lithoprint printing division experienced 30 percent reductions in sales. We have maintained a news/editorial staff larger than most community newspapers in the region.


What’s next for the N-R?

Reducing Costs:

Efforts to mend that broken business model, if possible, will take time. Meanwhile, cost-cutting measures will be launched in early 2024. Those changes — to be more fully described in an upcoming series of reports — will include:

* Reduced print publication: Eliminating one of our twice-weekly printed publications, reducing costs for production-printing-mailing and opening up press time for outside print clients.

* Smaller newspaper page size: A reduction of about 25 percent in size of the printed newspaper page, continuing a 100-year trend in page-size reduction and doubling the page-count for single-section press capacity. Readers have requested reduction of page size, making the newspaper easier to hold and read through.

* Increased digital publication: Expanding to three digital “e-editions” of the newspaper each week, allowing distribution of more information in formal newspaper format than would be possible in print.


Enhancing Revenue:

Without increased revenue, newspapers as we’ve known them will continue to disappear. Here are some of the initiatives under consideration for the News-Register:

* Lower advertising rates: Reduced print advertising rates so more small businesses can access our marketing capabilities with plans that fit within their budgets.

* More digital advertising: Increasing advertising revenue on by generating more traffic to the website.

* Premium subscriber offers: Opportunities for newspaper subscribers to gain special benefits for paying a premium subscription price.

* Donation opportunities: Invitations, through a nonprofit organization, for readers and others to make tax-deductible contributions toward maintenance of public-service news reporting programs.

* “Community Partner” program expansion: New efforts to expand the newspaper’s “Community Partner” program, including direct communications to newspaper subscribers from participating advertisers.


The bottom line

When all the dust settles on the launch of these initiatives and others, there remains one challenging set of realities:

* Advertising sales, the life-blood of newspapers, have dropped below levels needed to sustain a high-quality community newspaper. Our challenge is to regain lost advertising revenue through good business practices, and retain the level of community journalism that in 2023 was judged best among all of Oregon’s multi-weekly newspapers.

* Reader engagement with local advertisers has dropped off as people do more online purchasing. Our challenge is to convince readers that in order to retain their quality community newspaper, they need to acknowledge — and commercially engage — local businesses in response to their newspaper advertising messages.

* Independent local ownership of community newspapers is severely threatened nationwide. Our challenge is to build a new business model that can sustain local ownership and operation of the News-Register — whether through continuation of the current 96-year family ownership, or perhaps through community-based nonprofit ownership.

As promised, more information will follow. Meanwhile, don’t forget: Shop Local!

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



Long live the News Register!

Easy Writer

One of the most talented newsrooms in the state.


Locally owned independent papers like our News Register are vital to our community and a foundation for democracy. The News Register deserves full community support while it adapts to the realities of the current situation.

Bill B

Let me preface by saying I'm not sure of the costs associated with publishing the e-edition. Maybe it's just the boomer in me, but I've never read the e-edition. I either read the content on or the paper. I'd do away with it as well as the Tuesday paper. Would be nice to see more timely content online between published editions though.

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