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December 07, 2015


I could not agree more. SJ has bad for a long time, but it's gotten worse. I think it will be gone in 5 years. Maybe less.

How about this morning? The whole FRONT PAGE was given to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Do they know that happened 74 years ago? We went through the same experience of subscribing to the paper as one of the first things we did when we arrived in Salem over two years ago. Cancelled our subscription because of lack of news coverage and not wanting to give our money to a publication that was actively working against our interests. We have resubscribed again because we were missing even the minimal amount of news we were getting from the paper. I am also a former journalist, three years on a newspaper in a small community in Alaska and another 15 at a TV station and I am constantly appalled at the amount and quality of news that appears in the Statesman Journal. Most of the paper on a given day would pretty much be in the “Lifestyles” section of most local papers. If it wasn’t for this blog and some of the other local blogs like Salem Breakfast on Bikes, we would have no information about the important issues in Salem. This is the freakin’ state capitol for Christ’s sake, it needs a decent newspaper.

PS the "comment feed' link on this page doesn't not appear to be working.

Hold E. Cow! That criticism was perfect! Don't hold your breath for a reasoned response.

Rich, it doesn't work for me either. I'll try to find a way to get rid of any mention of a "comment feed." Or, get TypePad to fix it.

We unsubscibed a few years ago for similar reasons. This, the other blogs mentioned, Facebook groups like Salem Community Vision, No3rdbridge, and the Willamette Weekly are our news sources. It truly is embarrassing when a free weekly does a better job of local news reporting than the city newspaper.

In April of 2003, I sent the following to the then publisher, David Risser. Nothing changes:

This is in response to your commentary in the Statesman Journal,
Sunday, April 6, 2003

The Headline: "Newspaper strives to present balanced coverage of war"

The bullet that jumped out: "If we use our barrels of ink on the war,
are we neglecting other areas? We regularly shift attention to
breaking news. Coverage of some subjects may be shelved. But only
temporarily. It's not long before we continue shining a light on
traditional local news." What kind of light? Through a Glass Darkly?;
through rose-colored lenses?; with a dim bulb?

Balanced coverage? Yes, I think that your war coverage has done a good
job. But I'm puzzled by a later comment: "Our news staff strives to
be fair and unbiased. Our newsroom is filled with thinking, caring
people who reflect the community."

I agree that they are, but my sense is that you sure keep them on a
short leash with respect to local news.

In order to get a complete spectrum of local, state, and national news,
I pick up the Eugene Register-Guard and the Sunday NYTimes. I don't
expect either paper to be the Times, but the two local papers should be

I did a small comparison of the Statesman Journal (SJ) and the Eugene
Register Guard (RG).

I would appreciate any feedback you and the editorial staff may have
(though that response may be constrained by your corporate overlords).

I used the Sunday, April 6th editions of the two papers for comparison.

PRICE: SJ, $1.50; RG, $1.25.

TOTAL WEIGHT: SJ, 2lb. 13-oz.; RG 2lb. 4-oz.

WEIGHT OF NEWS SECTIONS: SJ, 5 oz.; RG 11-oz. I know this may be an
unusual comparison, but it does indicate the amount of paper, ink, and
staffing that must be needed to have more than twice the news that the
Salem paper has.

The RG provided a 12 page section dedicated to local and state news.
Their editorials are in a separate section.

The RG provided 8 pages of sports, with even a section for letters
(with a 250 word limit). They even do a good job of covering OSU

The RG has a 12 page Oregon Life Section covering arts, travel, books,
and concerts.

The RG has a solid 8 pages of business news.

And finally, a four page editorial section (with a much greater word
limit for letters).

The RG has more reporters, greater local coverage, and the best sports
section in the state AND a lower price.

If both papers shared a common market, the RG would seemingly win hands

The articles are better written, the schedules are accurate; they still
appear to use proof readers to review news for accuracy of spelling and
grammar. You can read the first two paragraphs and get the gist of the
article, as we were taught in journalism class.

It does take longer to read.

How can the Register Guard provide more news, especially local news, at
a lower price? I'd suggest that you need to give less to Gannett and
increase the number of reporters that you have on the beat. I have no
sense of what is happening in Salem and it is sad to hear the news from
other sources (for example, a gang fight(?) downtown recently that was
not reported). My sense is that the SJ is to local news what
ClearChannel is to local radio - there is no one there when you need


Richard van Pelt

I forgot to include Risser's response:

Richard -

I enjoyed your analysis of the differences between the Statesman Journal and the Register Guard. I don't quite understand your point about turning to the RG or the New York Times for local Salem news, but I found the other comparisons between papers in similar cities to be quite interesting.

As anyone can conclude anything if they limit their measures, I think it would be only fair to make a comparison on several additional factors, including locally produced stories, lively stories that engage real readers, stories about people rather than the actions of institutions, and coverage of state government and state worker issues. In those areas and others, I believe we beat the Eugene paper.

And of course we have room to grow. If you would like to advise me on local stories upon which we should unleash our not-insubstantial forces, I would be very delighted to evaluate them and take off the leashes as appropriate.

I've forwarded your note to our publisher in case she'd like to send less money to Gannett.


Sarah Rohrs makes great points, but she shouldn't expect any reasoned answer from Dick Hughes. He will keep on talking about how he is a great leader because he took some leadership classes, and come up with some completely asinine childish riposte to her concerns and consider that the final word on the matter, then go back to burying his head in the sand.

When I first moved to Salem about 8 years ago I honestly assumed the SJ was free it was so bad. It appeared to be filled with ads and "happy stories" - not unlike most free papers that are there merely an advertising tool for local businesses.

Then one day I was stopped at the entrance to a store and asked if I wanted to subscribe to the local newspaper and I said - "Oh I've been wondering if Salem had one, great!" Then he pulled out the Statesmen Journal and I politely said "That. No thank you".

I greatly prefer the Daily Dead Fishwrapping Oregonian over the S.Urinal.
Everyone is free to comment about articles with the Fishwrapper, online. Not so with the Urinal. One must have the social ring through their nose firmly attached to the masses. BAAAA,BAAAAAAAAA.
And here is something to watch for this coming spring when nature awakes:
Notice that every article in the Urinal that has "pollinators" or "bees" in the headline turns into an anti pesticide, anti chemical, anti farming, anti forestry, anti nursery, anti EVERYTHING RANT.
This under the guise of reporting.
If you want to read clear, informative news on pollinator issues, check out the Capitol Press.
(Notice that I am the first to mention a REAL newspaper) Besides, I have a very fond memory of being interviewed by Awesome Anna when she was with Capitol Press Printing back in the day!

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