Jeff the Great Boycotts The Oregonian (or, why the newspaper industry is dying)

Reading through the archives of this blog, you'll see that there are a few popular topics I like to write about. One of them is the downfall of the newspaper industry. I recently had an online conversation with the new Business section editor at The Oregonian which only strengthens my grim outlook for a dying industry.

As some of you know, I have been working hard to build my own startup company. Nearly 2 years now and we are finally getting some real traction. Big news is on the horizon. During this time, I have become aware of many other Portland startups. Unfortunately, it seems as if these companies don't get much attention from The Oregonian newspaper.

A recent example is when my company teamed up with another Portland startup, GadgetTrak, to produce an innovative project called "stolen camera finder." It was interesting enough for the New York Times, Economist magazine, Popular Photography magazine, TechCrunch, Gizmodo and others. We sent information to the Oregonian's tech business writer and I even spoke with him on the phone about the project during a call for a different story. Nothing, no story. Apparently the Oregonian is too good for a story that the New York Times and TechCrunch like.

However, the Oregonian did have space in their paper for a July story about an eccentric millionaire that has sunk nearly $1 million into the development of a shaving razor that sells for $100,000 each (yes, you read that correctly, one hundred thousand dollars). Then, in late August, the Oregonian did a follow up story with "news" that the company has now produced an $18,000 model of their high-end razor. According to the August 25th article, not a single unit had been sold at either price point.

In the meantime, real Portland startups are building world-changing products, earning revenues, hiring employees and otherwise succeeding. When was the last time you read about that?

So when the second razor article hit the Oregonian's web site, I took issue with both the author (who I respect greatly) and his boss, the Business Editor. Here is our Twitter exchange, archived thanks to a cool company called Storify (which isn't from Portland):

What is your take, Portland? Was I wrong to question the Oregonian's coverage of this gimmick razor business or do they in fact do enough coverage of Portland startups?

Update, 9/24/11: The Oregonian today published a story about Geoloqi, one of the companies I mentioned in the comments below because I felt they didn't get the attention they deserved. Here is the story.


gwalter said...

Jeff, like all businesses, they play to their market. Those that read the O, probably wouldn't give a rip about your biz. But novelty razors would sell newspapers.

IMO, the Oregonian is still one of the best in the country. But paper news is old news and I haven't bought one in over three years. The days where I go out to breakfast and read the Oregonian cover to cover are over. I generally use my phone or laptop to get the news.

(And it isn't at Oregonlive - which still sucks)

Brent Logan said...

It too bad you didn't get local coverage (yet) for your cool project. Congrats on all the coverage you *did* get, though. That's awesome!

Btw, @rogoway is all I read of the Oregonian.

skjain2 said...

Jeff, I wish I could say I was surprised, but job creation isn't as sensational as marketing stunts. The fact that this is a priority in the BUSINESS section reminds me why I only subscribe for the damn coupons.

Pete Grillo said...

I don't see how you can expect to brow beat any person or publication into publishing something about your business. Treat then like customers and find out what they need and either provide it or not. Questioning their intelligence or integrity in a public forum like this is just plain wrong.

Jmartens said...

Pete- I am not trying to brow beat them into covering me...If I wanted coverage, I'd suck up to them and be two-faced.

Instead, I just say what I think. I think covering a gimmick business twice, while great startups like those I linked to above get nothing, is a reason the industry is failing.

How many times as the O written about Geoloqi, App Fog, GadgetTrak, Cloudability, etc? App Fog shared 1 article with another company and Geoloqi was mentioned in a PSF article. Let's call that a combined 0.6 stories.

Mike Rogoway said...

Hey Jeff --

I know it sometimes confuses folks that I don't approach the beat the way others do, particularly trade journals. I've talked about it some with folks...perhaps a post specifically about my approach would be helpful.

I'll try to make time for that next week.

-- Mike

Jmartens said...

Not to take credit or anything, but the O just published a story about Geoloqi, one of the companies I mentioned that didn't get the attention they deserve.


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