Ax begins to fall after Oregonian announces major overhaul

Ax begins to fall after Oregonian announces major overhaul
The Oregonian's Thursday edition.

PORTLAND, Ore - The Oregonian announced on Thursday that it will cut down home delivery and put more emphasis on its digital product, slashing some jobs in the process.

Home delivery will be cut to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, plus a trimmed down Saturday edition. The three regular editions will be beefed up versions of the current product, while the Saturday edition will heavily emphasize sports, along with some news and classified advertising.

The plan calls for a new media company, The Oregonian Media Group, to be formed. It will operate both and The Oregonian.

"While we believe these changes will create growth opportunities for our employees, the reality is that some employees will lose their jobs," said president and publisher N. Christian Anderson III.

On Friday, Willamette Week reported that editors had begun holding one-on-one meetings to inform employees whether they would be rehired by the new company. It said at least 35 people had been laid off. Employees gathered on Thursday night at Higgins Restaurant, where sympathetic citizens had called in $3,500 in donations to put toward the group's bar tab.

Willamette Week reported that Mayor Charlie Hales personally donated $50 toward the tab.

The paper will still be available on newsstands the remaining three days of the week, although the company hasn’t said what to expect from those editions.

Oregonian reporter Kimberly A.C. Wilson tweeted that editor and vice president Peter Bhatia told the newsroom “a significant number of people” will be laid off, but didn’t announce any hard numbers, and said layoffs will take effect in late August or late September.

Wilson also wrote that current employees will have to be rehired by the new group, and must undergo drug testing as part of the hiring process. As part of the emphasis on the digital product, team leaders will be renamed “managing producers.”

The Oregonian is owned by Advance Publications, the same group that cut publication of The New Orleans Times-Picayune to three days a week in September. In April, it began offering a seven-days-a-week tabloid version.

Willamette Week reported that the newspaper will move out of its downown office to new digs.

Oregonian readers who subscribe to the print product will have access to a new e-edition seven days a week.

“My own personal take, before I learn my job status: This is going to suck,” tweeted Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin. “A lot. But then it could be great. If you're going to remake the news biz, Portland is the perfect place to do it. Our readers care about their city. They want journalism.”