In Oregon, newspaper publishers have recognized the need to provide their communities with better and deeper coverage of state government and politics. Their answer was the creation of the Oregon Capital Bureau.
Under the editorial leadership of veteran investigative reporter Les Zaitz, the Bureau leverages the newsroom talent of three local news organizations: the Pamplin Media Group, publisher of the Portland Tribune and 24 other weekly, twice-weekly and monthly titles; EO Media Group, publisher of the East Oregonian, Daily Astorian and nine other titles; and the Salem Reporter, a digital news service that Zaitz heads up as editor. The Salem Reporter—co-founded by Zaitz and real estate developer Larry Tokarski—recently launched in September.
“This collaboration will dramatically boost our in-depth coverage of state government,” Pamplin Media Group president Mark Garber said in a press release. “We already were partnering with EO Media Group to provide timely and comprehensive stories about the Legislature, the executive branch and state agencies. Now, by adding Salem Reporter, we will increase the number of journalists watching the capital and also benefit enormously from Les Zaitz’s journalistic leadership.”
Each of those news organizations has dedicated a journalist to work toward the collaborative effort and goal of more robust state-business coverage. They include reporter Paris Achen of the Portland Tribune, Claire Withycombe of the East Oregonian and the Daily Astorian, and the Salem Reporter’s Aubrey Wieber.
Zaitz explained the workflow: “Each Monday, I call the reporters and say, ‘What have you got coming up this week? Or what do you see coming?’ As stories come in, I edit them and send them back for additional reporting or additional rewrite. Then I put it in the final form and distribute it to all three news organizations to post either at will or by a preset schedule.”
The Bureau’s coverage will include breaking news, enterprise articles and deep-dive investigative pieces. The content will be shared across the publishers’ newspaper titles and websites. The team also produces the Oregon Capital Insider, an e-newsletter with a reported readership of more than 84,000 subscribers.
“No organization in Oregon has three reporters assigned full time to just state government and state politics, so that’s a pretty rich resource,” Zaitz said.
At press time, the Bureau team was just a few weeks old, and Zaitz noted that they’re still “settling in” to their new roles.
“We’re going to continue to fine tune our story selection and source development, which I’m very high on,” he said. “I insist that these three reporters be the best-sourced reporters in the state when it comes to this topic.”