Notes from the “Meet the editor of The Oregonian” forum

The Portland Metro Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held it’s January forum featuring the new editor of The Oregonian, Peter Bhatia. He spoke about the current state of journalism, it’s future and updates about the newspaper.

The following are my raw notes.

A decade ago, it was inconceivable for newspapers to be going bankrupt. They were cash cows. Though, many of the newspapers are still around and they’re doing well.

The digital transformation has put us in a place we never expected we would be.

Some people have their opinions on what the future is going to be. Pete isn’t so sure. Nobody really knows what the future holds for us. He believes they will be around for quite some time, publishing on paper and be profitable. The technology is going to determine the future.

The Oregonian spends much of their time trying to aggressively grow their online presence. They still derive 90% of their income from their print medium.

He’s not worried about citizen journalists or bloggers.

At The Oregonian, they believe in:

  • Verification
  • Deep reporting
  • Authenticity
  • Checked before publishing
  • Anchored in the principles and standards of journalism

They work hard to preserve journalism the way it has been. They can’t control nor do they want to control what bloggers do. They also don’t want to push them out or ignore them.

What’s important to him is that journalism survives, no matter what medium it uses.

The Oregonian is working on initiatives that will include UGC = user generated content (community journalism).

He’s interested to see how the New York Times’ new pay-for-online news model works. However there are a number of models that have been discussed for Internet journalism.

The corporate stance on the back-end software that supports The Oregonian’s website is that “mobile is not important” at the moment.

The Oregonian’s Associated Press (AP) embargo is aimed to limit the usage of their stories so that they receive proper credit.

The Oregonian still has nearly 100 reporters on staff after all of the cutbacks. There’s another staff reduction coming in about a month.

Readership is going up, due to the online component, but print readership is going down.


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