|Jackson County, Oregon (Google map; click to enlarge)|
Even before the Medford Mail-Tribune closed last momth, the Daily Courier of Grants Pass, Oregon, had moved into Jackson County after the Mail-Tribune went online only in September. Now Salem-based EO Media, which has the Bend Bulletin and 17 other papers, is starting a thrice-weekly, the Rogue Valley Tribune, this month, Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times reports.
“Why will it succeed where another failed?” Dudley asks. EO President Steve Forrester “said it has a proven approach and journalistic mission.” He said the Mail-Tribune, which had tried to add video content, “became a curious product,” with a confusing front page.
Now begins “an old-fashioned newspaper war,” Dudley writes. “EO Media is hiring a newsroom staff of 14 in Medford, which is relatively big in the era of ghost newspapers owned by hedge funds,” while the Daily Courier is adding three Medford reporters and counting on its more local ownership, five-day-a-week frequency and carrier delivery (the Tribune will be mailed) to win the battle. Forrester says EO will “have a longer time horizon than the publicly traded organization,” but both are family-owned.
“It’s rare for dailies to fail without at least merging with another paper or perhaps becoming a weekly,” Dudley notes. “It’s also unheard of nowadays for multiple newspapers to replace them, according to Penelope Abernathy, the journalism professor who led research documenting America’s news deserts.” Abernathy, a visiting professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, told him, “I’m not aware of any other situation like this, where you’ve had both a journalistic and business commitment made this swiftly, when a daily has closed.”