SALEM – EO Media Group, the parent company of The Blue Mountain Eagle, and Pamplin Media Group today have launched Oregon Capital Insider – a Salem-based news bureau that will provide their newspapers timely and in-depth coverage of Oregon state government.
The new venture comes at a time when statehouse coverage across the country has declined significantly.
A recent Pew Research study found that the number of newspaper reporters assigned full time to state capitals nationwide has declined 35 percent in the past 11 years.
In 2000, there were 10 reporters covering Oregon state government full time. Pew’s study released last month found only six reporters covering state government full time.
“While statehouse news coverage is diminishing in Oregon and across the nation, our media groups have chosen to invest in increased scrutiny of state government,” said Steve Forrester, president of the EO Media Group.
To launch the bureau, the companies have hired two veteran journalists who are familiar with the state and its politics – Peter Wong and Alan Gustafson, both formerly with the Salem Statesman Journal. They will be joined by Mateusz Perkowski, a veteran reporter at the Capital Press, who will provide coverage of water and other natural resource issues.
The Oregon Capital Insider bureau brings together two companies with a wide geographic footprint in Oregon.
Pamplin Media Group owns 25 twice-weekly, weekly and monthly newspapers covering Portland and its suburbs, as well as communities in the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.
The EO Media Group includes 10 daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly publications serving communities in Eastern Oregon and the Oregon Coast. It also owns the Capital Press, which covers agricultural issues in the Northwest, and the Chinook Observer on the southern Washington coast.
Mark Garber, president of the newspaper division for Pamplin Media Group, said both companies are owned by longtime Oregonians who care deeply about the state.
“That’s why they are willing to invest in better coverage of state government, even while other news organizations are cutting back,” he said. “Both companies also have a strong tradition of balanced and responsible journalism. Together, we expect to offer the very best coverage available about issues in Salem that affect all Oregon residents.”
Adam Davis, founder of DHM Research in Portland, said his firm’s research over the years has shown that Oregon residents want and need more information about how state government operates.
“By almost a 4-to-1 margin, Oregonians feel more negative than positive about state government compared to two years ago,” Davis said. “Exacerbating the situation is low public awareness of how state government works and how it positively contributes to people’s quality of life.”
Davis hopes the joint venture between Pamplin Media and EO Media will result in better information for the public.
“The Oregon Capital Insider bureau represents an opportunity to start turning the tide of this negativity and low awareness with more coverage of the legislative, administrative and judicial branches of our state government,” he said. “This is so important considering Oregon is at a crossroads in so many ways and needs all three sectors of our economy – private, nonprofit and public – working together with good information.”
In addition to writing about state government for the partner newspapers, the bureau reporters will produce a subscription-based electronic newsletter that will keep its readers up to date on the latest activities in state agencies and the Legislature. The newsletter, which will be launched in late fall, will be available for an annual fee.
“Our new bureau will deliver coverage to our newspaper readers and – in a more in-depth and specialized fashion – to a new subscription-based online newsletter,” Forrester explained.