Across the nation, the growing perception is that newspapers are in serious trouble as they combat reduced circulation numbers along with declining advertising revenues in the face of mounting competition from the Internet.
I would offer a caution, however: Don't believe everything you hear.
While dailies in large cities and smaller metro areas are in fact struggling greatly, newspapers that are fiercely local and invested in providing relevant, trusted news to the communities they serve are doing quite well.
Local is where it's at.
Local describes the strategic plan of our company - Pamplin Media Group - which serves the entire metropolitan area not with one newspaper, but by publishing many targeted, individually localized newspapers, including the Portland Tribune; 16 weekly and monthly newspapers published by Community Newspapers Inc.; and our online daily newspaper, Localnewsdaily.com.
Local defines our success. Frequently I am asked, 'How is the Portland Tribune doing? How are your many newspapers doing in the face of all of these troubles that newspapers are having?'
I am quite happy to report my response is always the same. 'We are doing quite fine, thank you. Our circulation and readership numbers are up. And advertising sales continue to increase.'
Local information describes our future. Both online and in print, there always will be journalists to hunt, gather and distribute news and information. Looking ahead, we will do it robustly and relevantly with printed newspapers and with Web sites that are dedicated to the local communities we serve.
And the word 'invested' describes our local commitment.
Over the next few weeks and months, readers and advertisers of our many papers, including the Portland Tribune, will see many new investments focused on continually improving the quality of our journalism, our service, our value to readers and advertisers and our community leadership.
This investment will take many forms:
• The hiring of additional reporting, editing and photography staff.
• The hiring of a company executive editor to grow and improve local news coverage within our many newspapers.
• The expansion of our Web sites, including more local news, information services and the addition of Reuters national and international news coverage.
• Expansion of editorial and opinion pages.
• Enhancement of newspaper distribution.
• And expansion of partnerships between our many newspapers.
Pamplin Media Group newspapers already have a track record of award-winning local journalism, community investment and leadership. We are proud that these efforts are receiving statewide and national recognition for journalism that makes a difference in the communities we serve.
Here are a few examples of stories, ongoing coverage, editorials and leadership that Pamplin Media Group newspapers have collaborated on and why they matter to readers of the Portland Tribune:
Sustainability. Our company's monthly Sustainable Life section and weekly Sustainable Life pages, which are localized to each newspaper's own community, recently were given the nation's leadership award among daily and weekly newspapers by the Inland Press Association.
Editorials on topics such as transportation congestion and solutions, education funding and quality, growth, immigration and the cost of housing recently were named the third best in the nation among daily and weekly newspapers.
Coverage dating to 2006 by the Portland Tribune of abuses within the Oregon Nursing Board prompted an investigation by the governor's office and an overhaul of the state agency.
Localized coverage of important issues such as land-use planning and Measure 49 gives our readers not only the big picture, but important information on how state policy and election issues affect local communities and residents.
Our Rethinking Portland special-section series targets difficult subjects - such as school funding, congested roads and highways, the cost and availability of health care, the price of housing, funding for the arts, and growth management - and uniquely and proactively helps our communities address these issues.
The future of our newspapers and our communities are linked. Local is where it's at. This is true, not only in terms of quality, relevant journalism, but quality communities. At the Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group, we are committed and invested in both - now and long into the future.
Steve Clark is president of Community Newspapers Inc. and the Portland Tribune.