The Oregonian/OregonLive will discontinue printing a newspaper on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, bringing an end to 142 years of daily print publication early next year.
The change takes effect Jan. 1. It is not expected to affect news staffing or news gathering operations. The newsroom will continue to publish digital editions of the newspaper, and stories on OregonLive, seven days a week.
The company moved to four-day-a-week home delivery a decade ago. It continued to print a small run of papers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, primarily for newsstand sales, but some avid readers made arrangements with their newspaper carrier to deliver all seven days.
At the time, newsstand sales were at about 15,000 a day. Today, that number of so-called “single-copy” sales has dwindled to about 3,600.
“The demand for single copies has continued to wane,” said John Maher, president of the Oregonian Media Group and publisher of The Oregonian/OregonLive. “When we look at the trend, it makes sense to make this change.”
It’s been a painful time for newspapers, in Oregon and elsewhere. The Medford Mail Tribune shut down in January. The Eugene Register-Guard and Salem Statesman Journal — the second and third-largest papers in the state, both owned by the national newspaper chain Gannett Co. — have effectively combined operations. The Eugene paper was left with no editor or publisher of its own and lists a staff of two news reporters, three sports reporters and two multimedia journalists.
Nationally, about 360 other papers have failed since 2019, according to a 2022 study prepared in collaboration with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Like other daily newspapers, The Oregonian’s print edition — powered by a cast of hundreds at its peak, including photographers, artists, librarians and a network of correspondents that ranged from the Wallowas to the Siskiyous — created a written enduring written account of the state’s history, and that of Portland.
“The Oregonian has been the day-to-day chronicler of the news in this city” since its founding, said Kerry Tymchuck, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. “I don’t think it surprises anybody. We’ve seen what happened to the newspaper business.”
The news organization was ravaged by the rise of the internet and, like many others, struggled to reinvent itself.
Oregonian Media Group has managed to stabilize itself and today is profitable, Maher said. OregonLive and related sites attract about 7 million unique readers a month. The news organization also produces a digital replica version of the newspaper each day for readers who prefer the traditional format of a newspaper rather than a website.
Sunday print circulation was 44,294 as of March 31, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Average daily circulation was 29,325. Those numbers represent a 70% decline since 2017.
Oregonian Media Group employs 118, up from 115 a year ago. The newsroom staff numbers 66 and has some openings. Last year, the newsroom staff numbered 63. It remains the largest news organization in the state.
Maher said parent company Advance Local deserves credit.
“Advance has made really sound investments to put us in a place of relative strength compared to our peers,” he said. “But it’s still a challenging marketplace and one that requires us to be extremely disciplined.”
Maher thanked the seven-day-a-week customers. “They are among the most passionate readers of our paper and I’m really thankful for their support,” he said.
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