Passing the Torch

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For 88 years, the Baker family has owned and operated the Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene, Ore. But in June, a new name appeared beside the editor and publisher title inside the newspaper’s staff box: Anderson.

N. Christian Anderson became the first non-Baker family member to take over as editor, publisher, CEO and president of the Register-Guard since 1927 when Alton F. Baker first bought the newspaper. The publication was first established in 1867 by J.B. Alexander and was called the Guard until Baker merged it with the Morning Register in 1930 to become the Register-Guard.

The reins passed from Baker to Baker until this year when Alton “Tony” Baker, who had been publisher since 1987, handed them over to Anderson.

Anderson began his newspaper career in 1972 as the city editor at the Democrat Herald in Albany, Ore. Since then, he worked as managing editor at the Union Bulletin in Washington, associate managing editor at The Seattle Times and editor for the Orange County Register in southern California. He was most recently president of the Oregonian Media Group before joining the Register-Guard, the second largest newspaper in Oregon.

“I have been in leadership positions my entire career and, in particular, have been called on to lead change,” Anderson said. “I believe I have a good sense of what it takes to work with people in times of uncertainty and to inspire them to embrace change and do their best work. I drive innovation. I relish opportunities to be involved in the community. All of that is what my current role calls for, so I think I am well prepared.”

With Anderson taking hold of the family-owned media company, one steeped in tradition and community, he plans to develop a more digitally-focused model and improve digital products.

In June, the Register-Guard launched photo galleries and saw a 41 percent growth in page views. Last year, the company established R-G Media Lab in order to offer digital services to local businesses. Anderson said they plan to add new products to better serve the community.

Yet, even with their focus on digital, Anderson said the Register-Guard’s print product is still as important as when Alton F. Baker first bought the paper.

“By September, we will be much better positioned to grow both audience and revenue. Our goal is to accomplish all of this while maintaining a superior set of print products, especially a newspaper that is home-delivered seven days a week,” he said.

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