The printing press has been around for at least 556 years - even longer in China. Up against that, the World Wide Web is a mere embryo.
Yet, the Pamplin Media Group - owner of the Lake Oswego Review, 17 other community newspapers, the Portland Tribune and AM 860 KPAM - embraced the new technology rather than the tried-and-true when it launched a new daily newspaper on the Web earlier this month.
'Daily newspaper' is somewhat of a misnomer for our group's collective Web site, which can be found at LocalNewsDaily.com. This new source of information is even more immediate than daily - it will be updated multiple times each day - and it doesn't involve ink on newsprint. But we choose to call our latest Internet effort a newspaper because we believe readers will immediately recognize that we are trying to transfer the values we express in print directly to the Web.
Those values can be described in a few words: Fiercely local, in-depth, comprehensive, responsive to readers and community-minded.
Because those are concepts we treasure, our new LocalNewsDaily Web site does not stand alone. In addition to this overall site, which gathers news from all 18 of the Pamplin group's newspapers, the Tribune and from KPAM, we have created new Web sites for each of our twice-weekly, weekly and monthly newspapers. Outlook readers in particular can find a more timely and thorough Web site at lakeoswegoreview.com.
We often hear Lake Oswego residents say they wish they had another source of local news besides the Review's Thursday editions. This Web site, which will be updated each weekday, is an answer to that request.
Readers, for example, didn't have to wait until the following Thursday to learn about that the Lake Oswego City Council had finalized the purchase of the Safeco Insurance Building. That story was posted on our Web site on the Friday afternoon that it occurred.
Last Wednesday evening, after our deadline, the, steering committee for the Safeco building listened to projections on two possibilities for the future of the library: Turning the site into the main library or using a portion of the site for a new library and keeping the original downtown site as a branch library.
Over the next few weeks and well into the future, we will make it a habit, not an exception, to place breaking news on the Web.
Some people may wonder if this new concentration on the Web is a capitulation, or at least a concession, to the continued expansion of electronic media. Newspapers, which began appearing in Europe not long after Johann Gutenburg developed his first press in 1450, have survived the advent of telegraphs, radio, television, cable TV and now the Internet. Newspapers endure not only because of their convenience and portability, but also because they connect with local communities in ways that other media cannot.
The Pamplin Media Group has reporters, photographers and editors living and working in communities from Lake Oswego to Gresham to Forest Grove to Portland to Beaverton. No startup Web site could ever match the size and knowledge of that reporting force. But the Pamplin group can harness that power for the printed newspapers, the radio station and the Web.
None of this means we are abandoning our roots. Printed newspapers - especially community papers that provide coverage not found elsewhere - are here for the long term. Readers don't subscribe to community papers just for the hard news. They want to see their grandchild's name on the school honor roll, or the photo of a friend who got promoted at work. That's the stuff that ends up taped to refrigerator doors all over town. Even if we begin to put all our content on the Web, people won't feel that same sense of recognition unless they see their name - or their child's name, or their neighbor's name - on newsprint.
It takes a long time for those names to fade from newsprint, and that's the advantage of newspapers - permanence and stability. Our new Web sites, by contrast, will be constantly changing to reflect not only what we print in the papers but the news as it happens each day.
We hope this combination of newsprint and new technology will provide readers with their primary source of information about their community, their state and even the rest of the world. Please check it out online and let us know what you think.