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Tribune breaks the mold

Five years old. Working hard. Having fun. Growing. Making a difference. Confident. Committed to Portland and its future.

These phrases capture the essence of the Portland Tribune, which Thursday celebrated its fifth anniversary and since its launch Feb. 9, 2001, has done what few new businesses do Ñ survived tough economic times. But even more significant, the Tribune is doing something that, until recently, was unheard-of across the nation Ñ creating, publishing and developing a metrowide newspaper at a time when newspaper readership among almost all major metro daily newspapers is declining.

In fact, monthly readership of our newspaper continues to grow, and now totals more than 456,000 people. This is a success story that is all about our commitment to serve as Portland's independent newspaper and to provide compelling, forward-thinking and accurate information about how our citizens, governments and businesses live, work and play.

The development of the Tribune can be measured in many ways. In the past few months, the Tribune has launched a quarterly series called Rethinking Portland, a look at the critical issues facing the community's future: growth, education, the economy, transportation and other matters such as the affordability and availability of housing.

In December, we began publishing weekly editorials that not only offer our views on local issues, but also provide direction to improve our community, instead of simply pointing out what's wrong.

Also last year, the Tribune began publishing Trib Town, a weekly focus page dedicated to Portland's neighborhoods, and initiated a special section that annually celebrates the best of the city's neighborhoods. In-depth, insightful coverage of medical care affecting Portland residents also has become a new trademark of the Tribune.

Community involvement describes the Tribune as a business. This past year, we sponsored or supported more than 30 events, festivals and community improvement efforts. And as a business, the Tribune's management is actively involved in shaping many key community issues, such as enhanced livability, congestion relief, economic development and land use.

What ties this all together: community. The Portland community.

At the Tribune, we are unabashedly committed to be the newspaper that cares the most about Portland and its future. We think more citizens, businesses and organizations should join us as readers, advertisers and partners in making a difference in Portland.

We have said before that Portland's future is bright, even though it faces many challenges. But for the area to prosper, a renewed confidence and sense of trust is required. Confidence that Portland can be an even better community, and trust that working together is the way to get the job done, even when disagreements arise.

What does all of this have to do with journalism and the Portland Tribune? Lots. We are a newspaper that focuses on Portland news Ñ not the suburbs, other Oregon communities or other states and nations. We are not an alternative newspaper that drifts between sensational journalism and self-serving criticisms of people and competitors.

We are Portland. And we are moving forward and following a plan to continue to be known as the best nondaily newspaper in the nation and the newspaper that best and most relevantly serves the community.

Steve Clark is the president of the Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers Inc.