As expected, the Portland Tribune announced to its readers this morning that it's cutting jobs and going from a twice-a-week publication schedule to a weekly. The letter to its readers, from Portland Tribune president Steve Clark, tries to put a pretty bow on the move by spinning it as a move to "a more complete daily online newspaper that will be accompanied by a single weekly print edition to be published each Thursday."
It's a strange, sad letter -- a combo plate of defensiveness and buzzwords:
We were the first to identify sustainability as the future of our communities and worthy of its own major publication: Sustainable Life....We become even more environmentally sensitive by launching the nation’s most sustainable daily newspaper in America’s most sustainable community.
"Sustainable," in Portlandese, is like "family values" -- it's an amorphous, commonly recognized Good Thing that no one can quite define; it means whatever you want it to mean at the moment. In this case, it seems that the Trib is trying to say that going weekly has its upside because it's Kind To Trees.
This means your best source of local news – on the Web and in print – just got better as we expand breaking coverage of Portland and regional news...
In moving to a once a week print newspaper and online daily, we will employ fewer people in some departments.
How they're going to expand news coverage by employing fewer people isn't quite explained, but I guess it's the kind of the thing you have to say in situations like this. What you don't have to do, though, is take potshots at your competitors as you're bailing water.
Such as The Oregonian:
The Tribune consistently has defied those readership trends and criticisms by providing print and Web journalism that robustly and increasingly serves Portland in ways that other media – including the state’s 158-year-old daily newspaper – do not.
Such as bloggers (also known, in many cases, as "your readers"):
We fully expect that there will be those who will criticize our strategy. Through the years, we have routinely been scorned by some, including bloggers who are prone to vitriolic negativity.
Such as the other alt-weeklies:
Other comments may come from competitors such as Willamette Week – which makes a practice of throwing stones at us and others, but rarely praise.
Oh, grow up. The Tribune isn't a bad paper, and it's not its fault that newsprint costs are soaring, advertising is down (probably forever), and the industry's entire future is in question. I hope the Tribune survives and manages to come up with a "sustainable" business model. But flailing around, sniping at, and whining about your competitors just makes you look petty and small.