The launch of the Pamplin Media Group's new websites comes after several years of work on a modernized design. The benefits to our readers include speedier load times, greater ease of use on mobile devices, an improved search function and a more organized and graphically appealing display of news and advertising.
Our team of web programmers, led by webmaster Alvaro Fontan, has spent thousands of hours writing code for the new websites and the databases that support them. Their task was made more difficult by the fact that, unlike any other news-oriented website in the region, the Pamplin Media Group's web platform is composed of 27 separate news sites — each with original content about the counties, cities, and neighborhoods they cover.
Because the Pamplin group is the only news organization in the region that puts reporters on the ground in more than two dozen individual communities, the amount of local content handled by our websites — approximately 5,000 original stories a month — would overwhelm the single-website model used by most media outlets. However, we also believe it is important for residents in the metro area, and indeed throughout Oregon, to know what is happening not only in their own communities, but also in neighboring ones.
To find the most important state and regional news, our readers can head to pamplinmedia.com. That site, which displays the Portland Tribune logo, serves as an umbrella site and includes the bigger regional stories as well as news unique to Portland. To get news about other communities, readers can click on the "News Where You Live" links on the right side of the home page.
Our metro-area coverage extends from Woodburn to the south and Sandy on the east, to Columbia County in the north and Forest Grove on the west. We also have newspapers in Madras and Prineville, which cover those Central Oregon communities. Plus, our Capital Bureau, staffed in partnership with the EO Media Group, provides some of the only regular, ongoing coverage of state government in Oregon.
But the defining differences that set the Pamplin websites apart from any other news organization in the area are our employees and our local ownership. In our newsrooms, nearly 100 reporters, editors, photographers and page designers are spread throughout the region, living and working in each community we serve and reporting the day-to-day news about city council meetings, high school sports, elementary school programs, local events, births, deaths and notable achievements. Working alongside them are another 130 employees who sell and design advertising, print and insert newspapers, coordinate delivery, build websites and perform other essential functions, such as accounting and custom publishing.
Without the local ownership of the Robert B. Pamplin Jr. family, we wouldn't have the same level of commitment to building strong communities through excellent local journalism. Other news organizations will flock to the sensational stories that occur anywhere in the metro area on a given day. But nobody else — whether traditional media competitors, newly formed digital companies or community bloggers — devotes the resources needed to provide daily, community-specific coverage. And that's why our media group retains a positive outlook for its future.
Having unique stories from a trusted news source is the undisputed key to success, whether it is delivered in printed or digital form. That advantage explains why our company has been adding reporting resources while other newspapers have been cutting back. But this doesn't mean we don't face challenges, one of which is getting the same return on the investment we make in websites as we get for our print products.
Mark Garber is president and publisher of the Pamplin Media Group's newspaper division.