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Jeb Bladine: A 400-word corner of ‘new’ Viewpoints

“Change,” wrote Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “is the only constant.” Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli added, “Change is inevitable.”

Today, proving those aphorisms in a small way, the display of our Viewpoints section has changed for the first time in 34-plus years.

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

> See his column

I should know, because I enacted the move from traditional editorial page layout to a “tabloid format” on June 25, 1984. That was 1,798 Viewpoints sections ago, and I admit to a mild melancholy seeing that old friend pass away. But for reference, I have every one of them in a box.

The pull-out Viewpoints tabloid was embraced by the community as a convenient vehicle for reading local, state and sometimes national commentary. The unique format often drew praise from state and national contest judges, sometimes tipping the scales our way when compared to traditional editorial pages with quality content.

Back in 1984, I touted the reader-convenience factor. But in truth, the change in great measure was for my own convenience. For years, as a young editor, I was presented with last-minute newspaper layouts with zero, one or even two full broadsheet pages for opinion. My move, in self-defense, was to create the “drop-in”

Viewpoints section with a constant size and publication schedule.

Genius! Well, at least, a pretty good idea that has stood a test of time.

But change is inevitable … and in this case, necessary.

The new format, carefully designed by Associate Editor Racheal Winter, with oversight by Editor and Assistant Publisher Ossie Bladine, retains much of the long-standing Viewpoints look and feel.

In yet another significant change, the new format rolls easily into a publication we distribute to non-subscribers throughout our circulation area. Editor Bladine’s theory, now being tested, is that non-subscribers reading opinions about local news may take greater interest in reading the news itself.

Genius? We hope so.

Meanwhile, some specifics won’t change, at least not under the watch of our family newspaper ownership. Here, for example, is what we said in June 1984, which is as true today as then:

“The Viewpoints section is many things: an effort to provoke thought and discussion on important issues; an exchange of ideas; and most of all, an opportunity for any person to present strongly felt opinions to the community.”

As for me, at least for the time being, I still have my 400-word corner of the new Viewpoints.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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