At 87, 'Oregonian' Publisher Stickel to Retire

By: Fred Stickel, publisher of The Oregonian, said Wednesday he will retire after guiding Oregon's largest paper for more than three decades that included toasts to five Pulitzer Prizes as well as sharp staff cuts in the newspaper industry's current slump.

"I am 87 years old," Stickel said. "I love this newspaper and the essential role it plays in Oregon and this community. But it is time for me to retire and make way for new leadership."

He announced his retirement, effective Sept. 18, in a meeting with department heads and a statement.

The Oregonian reported that Stickel's son Patrick, president of the paper, will serve as interim publisher but will not be a candidate to succeed his father.

The newspaper is owned by the Newhouse family's Advance Publications. It has won five Pulitzer Prizes during Stickel's tenure and has suffered in recent years with the rest of the newspaper industry in the face of declining advertising revenue.

In the past two years, it has slashed staff by a third through early retirement offers, buyouts and layoffs of part-time employees. In August, it announced it is ending a policy that protected full-time employees from layoffs for economic or technological reasons, and Editor Sandy Rowe said another buyout is in the works.

Stickel came to Oregon from New Jersey in 1967 to be general manager of the paper. In 1972 he was named president of the company and in 1975 publisher.

Stickel was known for civic activities and cited his work with the Citizens Crime Commission. He was a founder and chairman in 1987.

Tim Gleason, dean of the University of Oregon's School of Journalism, said there can't be many American publishers with so long a tenure, and he said Stickel was a force for newsroom innovation.

"The Oregonian is and remains today one of the best regional newspapers in the United States, and he's the publisher who built that," Gleason said.

Stickel recruited Rowe, the paper's editor since 1993. She said he promised her support and independence in building a stronger newsroom, "and in 17 years I've never had reason to doubt that."

"To his employees, Fred Stickel represents the soul of The Oregonian," she said. "He is revered for his utter devotion to the newspaper, his loyalty, his unwavering sense of fairness and his candor."


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