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Sunday, December 31, 2006

An entertaining year ahead

The new year arrives in a state with a 57-year statewide daily newspaper monopoly, whose remaining editors boast false optimism about Oregon's economy, its schools, its leaders and its future.

The journalism schools typically picture Oregon with two daily statewide newspapers with full editorial staffs, in a red-hot competition for a stunningly progressive readership and advertiser base; or younger, hip, left-leaning readers of alternative weeklies beneath Cascade peaks bathed in the alpenglow of early evening.

The Oregon news/opinion market is subtler. Overt politicking is disguised here, especially in winter. There's no burst of colorful reporting, just a lightening gray of the classified ads that generally ignores the sage and rimrock and farm fields of Eastern Oregon, because there are few people there.

Wake up call.

It's that time in Oregon. The new year arrives in a state that will awaken tomorrow with its only statewide daily overusing the words "optimism and hope" to a greater degree than it has in many years. For the first time since 2001, it is safe for express advocacy favoring Newhouse political preferences to come out of the shadows.

The pollster Moore Information recently surveyed Oregonians and found that The Oregonian's "44 and NO MORE" campaign has really paid off. Only 36 percent still believe Oregon is on the wrong track, whereas before the Newhouses invested $75 million in Our Oregon's government-union political agenda, nearly 80 percent of Oregonians believed their state had veered off course.

That huge pessimistic majority was right then and the false optimists are wrong now: 2007 stands to be a great year for the newspaper-government monopoly coverup in Oregon.

The Oregon economy still stubbornly holds on, despite Our Oregon's best efforts. The state's unemployment rate in November was 5.3 percent, stuck significantly above the national rate of 4.4 percent and the 7th worst state in the nation.

Tax revenues continue to flow strongly into state and local governments due to capital gains by investors, no thanks to sagging income tax receipts from ordinary workers. For the first time in years, Oregon has no political threat to reckless overspending on education and other "services." There will be no relief to taxpayers' humiliation by government unions, no slashing of the cruel state and local tax and regulatory burdens on the poor, disabled and elderly.

A newly reelected governor, Ted Kulongoski, has likely stood for his last election unless the Newhouse/Our Oregon team can repeal the constitutional term limit in '08. The 2007 Legislature, with the GOP merely a remnant, will go hog wild. The faith of Oregonians in their elected leaders will be severely tested.

It's been a long, long time since Oregonians had such stark reasons to fear a session of their Legislature. When lawmakers convene Jan. 8, there's every reason to believe that no good will come out of Salem this year: turning the budget over to the education lobby, complete socialization of health care, raiding a billion-dollar tax kicker, and most irresponsible of all, not a dollar socked away in state savings - all while the new Congressional majority hacks at the national economy, despite the best efforts by the Fed.

There's a new surge of unsustainable growth on the way for key local governments, too. Most of the state's major cities' budgets and PERS commitments are growing, and their schools will be more crowded because none of the 20% increase can get to the classroom - as reported on the Front Page today. People are abandoning Portland while Bend and Redmond are the state's only fast-growing communities. Portland is turning its downtown into a detention center and actually moving to a new neighborhood on its South Waterfront.

We will miss the melodrama that was the "Mean Girls" and the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, but the new James Bond was pretty good and the writers will probably keep the two new guys busy. There is still insufficient regional county leadership to open the mothballed Wapato Jail this year.

Of course, it is not all gray skies in Oregon. Amazingly, rural communities are still able to adapt to myriad newspaper-government challenges attempting to outlaw traditional industries, agriculture, timber and fishing. The wood products industry only lost 2,000 jobs in the last three months in Oregon. The end may be in sight over debates about the economic use or the environmental protection of Oregon's natural resources.

Especially among Oregon lobbyists and parodists, there are reasons for optimism. The Legislature is likely to approve major incentives that will create markets for alternatives in almost every industry imaginable. There's even hope for a better year for the environment: the national movement is poised to make a big push into the chemical-rich and CO2-heavy paper industry/print media.

Perhaps most important, the heavy storms of November and December have blanketed the Cascades and other mountain ranges with snow. That should yield plenty of water this year to irrigate farm fields, generate electricity and nourish fish and wildlife.

Oregon was built on true optimism, beginning with the pioneers who made the long trek West. More recently, it was a bold state that protected individual rights, cleaned up the corruption of single-party rule, and led the nation in adopting innovative ballot measures to govern regulatory takings, limit the untrammeled growth of taxes and fees, and address a growing crime problem.

This state no longer has that kind of ambition or leadership. It's not here. Not now. But as 2007 arrives, at least there is a glimmer of renewed optimism in Oregon. It looks like first light.

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Newhouse's glorious 2006

A year-end look-back at the news highlight of 2006: negativity in politics

Oregon's contests were marked by a reported $75 million in non-reported, loopholed political contributions from the Newhouses and The Oregonian. In coordination with the government union group Our Oregon, The Oregonian campaigned vigorously to defeat 9 of 10 ballot measures.

Credit the emerging advocacy-activism to the next generation of Newhouse shot-callers, led by Steven Newhouse. His refinement of the news-political campaign template has upside potential for his family's political preferences.

The forces of political power in 2006 invite all Oregonians to pray that our long, national nightmare of free competition in political speech is finally over.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Si Newhouse's mob story

Do you ever wonder why The Oregonian never runs stories about union or government corruption - ignoring it - as if it doesn't exist? There's a very good explanation that will help readers understand.

In the 1980's, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a Newhouse paper that held a monopoly like in Portland, went through a humiliating ordeal that placed this topic off-limits.

Jackie Presser was an International Brotherhood of Teamsters official in Cleveland who became president of the mob-infiltrated union in 1983. Prior to his ascension, the Plain Dealer ran a lengthy, meticulously-researched exposé revealing that Presser had long been employed by the U.S. Government as an informant. But the Teamsters had endorsed Ronald Reagan's election, and if the story had been allowed to stand, Presser would likely have been "taken out" of the running, or worse.

Si Newhouse, at the behest of his boyhood friend and politically-connected mob lawyer Roy Cohn, ordered a retraction/reversal of the story, and the Publisher complied. As a result, there was a walkout and near-mutiny by the honorable professionals of the Plain Dealer who knew the denial was completely false. (For more on the Presser issue, see Time Magazine, 6/18/84.)

The editors of Newhouse papers, including The Oregonian, learned a lesson: do not ever risk incurring such censorship ordered by the owners. The safer path for obedient, risk-averse corporate managers is ... self-censorship. Thus, politically powerful groups in Oregon will never be the subject of investigative reporting - or even serious critique - by the state's dominant news organ. That treatment is reserved for the less-powerful, especially those who dare challenge The Establishment's entrenched interests. This unwritten policy goes well beyond advertiser favoritism. If you've read Newhouse chain papers like The Oregonian - you know who gets protection and who gets pilloried.

In the passage below, Thomas Maier sums up the Cleveland fiasco:

At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there was the sense that the newspaper had sold out, compromising its standards of truth and fairness. This pattern seemed to extend from one generation of management to the next at the paper - with Newhouse's ownership as the common link.

Efforts to bury the truth about the Jackie Presser story lasted for years. In 1989, when Neff's book about Presser was published, the Plain Dealer commissioned a freelance review by Howard Bray, the director of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland.

In his review, Bray paid particular attention to the Newhouse intervention on behalf of Presser and said the book "reveals how the paper's credibility fell victim to the influence of Teamsters-Mob powers" with a front page "editorial surrender" repudiating its own expose. But Bray's review never appeared in the Plain Dealer.

Accompanying a Journalism Review story about Neff's book, [publisher] Vail offered one of this few public comments about the Presser affair. "At no time did we apologize," Vail said, "No 'retraction' was ever printed. We just published a news story [to the effect that] the government, in a sense, had signed off on Presser, and we had an obligation to print that.

By then, however, the weight of evidence contained in government tapes and court documents detailing the interplay of Roy Cohn, the Newhouses, and the Mob made Vail's protestations seem hollow. When he left the Plain Dealer, Vail signed an agreement never again to discuss publicly what went on at the newspaper.

For his part, Si Newhouse would survive the Cleveland fiasco by typically refusing to talk about it. In his silence, there nevertheless some revelation into his character and his business methods. Perhaps the most significant was how much power was wielded by Si Newhouse, once viewed by outsiders as the black sheep in his family.

In the few published profiles about the Newhouses, writers would give the impression that Si's brother, Donald, was the dominant voice in running the family's $5 billion newspaper empire and that Si confined himself mainly to magazine and book publishing. On a day-to-day basis, this may appear so. But the signature on the Cleveland deal belied what most insiders already understood: In matters that count, Si Newhouse calls the shots in the family business, in the same way his father once did.

Newhouse's silence also underlined a more troubling problem within the American media, the fundamental questions involving accountability and public trust. No matter how much criticism there was about the Plain Dealer, there was never any reason for Si Newhouse to have to explain himself. In 1989, when the top-rated national television show "60 Minutes" reprised the Jackie Presser stories and the cover-up at the Plain Dealer, Si Newhouse still refused to comment. He didn't have to. Nor did he ever explain his part in the shutdown of the Cleveland Press. To hold the key to what millions of Americans read every day in Ohio's largest city, Si Newhouse needed only one credential: ownership of the Plain Dealer's printing presses.

This domineering grip on the dissemination of news was a far cry from earlier in the century when cities had several competing newspaper. "It is for this buying public that newspapers are edited and published, for without that support the newspapers cannon live, "Walter Lippmann wrote in 1922. "A newspaper can flout an advertiser, it can attack a powerful banking or traction interest, but if it alienates the buying public, it loses the one indispensable asset of its existence." With the collapse of competition and a certain lock on the market, newspapers like Newhouse's Cleveland Plain Dealer could afford a "take it or leave it" approach to serving the public.

The profound distrust of Americans toward the media in the 1990s, the nagging suspicion that local newspapers act too often as gatekeepers withholding vital information from the public, found its exemplar in Si Newhouse, the man whose newspaper in Cleveland housed the secrets of the mob, its crooked unions, and its own self-serving advertisers.

The public's skepticism about the tainted news they consumed, as readership surveys would repeatedly show, grew out of the belief that newspapers had become mere house organs for the wealthy, that the interests of the powerful held far greater sway than those of mere readers.

When it involved embarrassing matters to billionaires (or at least those with glossy printing presses and lucrative assignments to offer at the most elite publications in New York), the press often seemed perplexed or feigned disinterest. That was certainly the case in the media's examination of Si Newhouse's role in Cleveland.

And the press would be largely complacent again when Newhouse faced an ever greater legal challenge from the government, one that was aimed at the very heart of the family fortune.

(© Thomas Maier, "Newhouse", p.146-148)

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Striking it rich, part 4

Newhouse takes 5 years to bust the union

The Portland newspaper strike officially lasted for five years, four months, and twenty-five days. It cost hundreds of employees their jobs and wrecked countless other lives. It also cost the city the independence of its afternoon paper. But nowhere was the strike's toll greater than at the Oregonian itself.

"The paper had a magnificent staff before the strike," recalled Wally Turner. "All across the board were top-drawer people, people who owned the town. Then, afterwards, the paper sank clear out of sight. It kept only those [reporters] who couldn't move on."

The list of Oregonian strike losses was stunning. Turner, for example, landed at the New York Times, which later made him chief of its West Coast Bureau. His sidekick, Bill Lambert, went to the Philadelphia Bulletin, where he was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize. Sportswriter Jack Rosenthal went on to become an editor of the Times's editorial page in and 1982 he, too, won a Pulitzer. Ed Jones became executive editor of the Wall Street Journal; Jack Bolter, news editor at CBS; John Dierdorff, a vice-president with McGraw-Hill; and Phil Hager, Supreme Court correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Many of the other landed at the Portland Reporter, one of the few decent strike newspapers ever published in America. It folded a few years later.

No paper could sustain such losses without serious harm to its editorial content, but once the strike ended, the Oregonian made little effort to find qualified replacements. Instead, it assured those reporters who crossed the picket lines during the strike that their jobs were secure.

Many residents of Portland and St. Louis came to believe that Newhouse had planned the newspaper strikes in their cities in advance, as part of a cold, calculated drive to smash the unions. Such a view gave him too much credit and, perhaps, not enough blame.

The strikes, especially the one in Portland, were horrible tragedies that no individual could have orchestrated. Their avoidance, however, was well within Newhouse's power. Instead, he helped his people prepare for the worst, thus assuring trouble; and when it occurred, he chose to let events run their course, knowing that, ultimately, he would be the beneficiary.

(© Richard H. Meeker, "Newspaperman", p.196-197)

Part 10 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In memory of Don Newhouse

"The strike just simmered down to a holding operation, and they kept on picketing for five years before they gave up."

In 1959, while Newhouse was outmaneuvering the unions in St. Louis, his employees at the Portland Oregonian went out on strike.

Not only was this strike as bitter as the one in St. Louis, it was also violent.

It started with management's insistence on installing a labor-saving machine to cast plates for the presses - the first at any American newspaper. Union leaders insisted that once the machine was installed, staffing levels remain the same. Negotiations went nowhere. Newhouse hoped that the other unions, the guild especially, wouldn't support the stereotypers' demands, but they did. S.I. was determined to continue publishing even if all the unions walked out.

Officials at the Oregon Journal, which Newhouse would buy two years later, agreed - strangely, many thought - to support the Oregonian in the event of a strike. Together they published under the name Oregonian-Oregon Journal, with the help of some outsiders, but mostly with supervisors in the advertising and circulation departments who had been surreptitiously trained, late at night, to operate the equipment.

Getting the paper out was difficult at first, but as time passed, became almost routine. The credit went mainly to Don Newhouse, a younger first cousin of Sam's, who was the Oregonian's production manager and as such ad trained the strikebreakers to print the paper.

Then, one Sunday afternoon in October 1960, someone - never apprehended - fired a shotgun through Don Newhouse's window as he worked the basement shop of his house. The shot pierced his hip. Slowly, he recovered most - but not all - of the use of his leg. The surgeon decided not to remove the pellets lodged in his hip because some were so deep that removing them would damage muscle. (Don remained at the Oregonian for a while, but at Sam's request moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, to help build a new plant for Newhouse's papers there. While there, he died suddenly after some of the pellets worked their way into his bloodstream and to his heart.)

The wounding of Don Newhouse and the blowing up of several delivery trucks caused the union to lose sympathy and support - two-thirds of guild members, for example, eventually came back. According to Bob Notson, "the strike just simmered down to a holding operation, and they kept on picketing for five years before they gave up."

(© Carol Felsenthal, "Citizen Newhouse", p.112-113)

Part 10 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Guards placed at executives' homes

News official shot in Oregonian strike
The New York Times, Oct. 17, 1960

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A shotgun blast hit Donald Newhouse, production manager of the struck Oregonian, as he worked at home last night. He was wounded in the hip and thigh.

The 41-year-old cousin of S.I. Newhouse, owner of the paper and ten others, said he had been threatened when he crossed the picket line at the plant.

The only clue, the police said, were footprints near the window through which the blast had come. Guards were placed at the home of every executive on the paper, which as continued to operate with non-union employees in the eleven-month old strike.

Mr. Newhouse was reported in satisfactory condition after surgery. Doctors said 100 pellets had hit him.

The Oregonian said Mr. Newhouse had "played a key role in maintaining production after it and The Journal were struck by the Stereotypers Union."

Among the issues in the stereotypers strike are the number of men needed to operate a new casting machine, whether foremen should belong to the union and the method of hiring substitutes. Other newspaper unions have joined the strike or observed the picket lines.

Part 9 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Leading retailers back unions

Competition threatens monopoly

To this day, retailers experience sticker-shock at the prices charged for advertising in monopoly newspapers. (This is what Warren Buffet meant by "an unregulated toll booth.") It's no wonder retailers gave some of their business to the enterprising unionists at the Portland Reporter during the strike that began in 1959. No doubt, Newhouse and The Oregonian kept track of these "disloyals" and ultimately extracted a pound of flesh when the Reporter folded.
New paper is set in Portland, Ore.
Semi-Weekly Tabloid Issued by Strikers Will Become a Daily About Nov. 1
Special to The New York Times, Sep. 18, 1960

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new daily newspaper will be published here beginning about Nov. 1, the officers of the Portland Reporter have announced.

The Reporter, a tabloid published twice a week, was the product of the long strike against the two established Portland dailies, The Oregonian and The Oregon Journal.

At present, four carloads of printing equipment are on sidings in Portland. The preses, linotypes and other machinery were shipped here from Miami where they were used in a strike-paper venture backed by Unitype, Inc., the publishing branch of the International typographers Union.

The machinery will be moved into an old building erected in 1017 as a stable for horses of the Wells Fargo Express Company. Unions outside the newspaper field bought the building, then leased it to the Portland Reporter for 3-1/2 per cent of the purchase and remodeling cost plus taxes.

The I.T.U. printing machinery is being leased to The Reporter for $10 a year, plus taxes and insurance premiums, with the provision that workmen using it must be members of the Portland locals of the I.T.U.

An application was filed a few days ago with the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to issue 175,000 shares of $10 par value stock.

The public offering would be 125,000 shares, the remainder would be divided among payments to the Portland I.T.U. local for services in installation, lease payments, and a block of 39,000 shares reserved for employee purchase.

The Reporter appeared in mid-February as a weekly published by members of the unions who walked out of The Oregonian and Oregon Journal on Nov. 9, 1959. It was an answer to the continued publication of two papers with non-union labor.

Now employs 250. From the eight-page weekly the tabloid has come to be a twice a week publication ranging from thirty-two to forty-eight pages. It prints advertising from most of the city's leading retail stores. Robert D. Webb, the publisher, now reports a circulation of 130,000.

No firm figures are available on the circulation of The Oregonian and Oregon Journal since the strike's beginning. Union sources have asserted both papers have lost substantially from The Oregonian's 235,000 and the Journal's 190,000 pre-strike circulations.

Part 8 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Oregon joblessness November 2006

Now alone as 7th worst in nation

The U.S. Dept. of Labor released its seasonally-adusted unemployment statistics for November. Points of interest:

Although the national unemployment rate decreased .2% from October, Oregon's jobless rate increased .2%.

Last month, 3 other states were tied with Oregon as 7th worst. In November, Oregon gained sole possession of the 7th worst jobless rate among the states, at 5.3%.

229 metropolitian areas in the U.S. had lower jobless rates than Portland, which ranked in the 37th percentile (+). Other percentile rankings - Eugene, 26th (+); Salem 29th; Medford, 37th (+); Corvallis, 58th (+); Bend, 71th (+) (Note: +/- indicates rank change.)

Oregon's November jobless rate was 29% higher than the national average of 4.1%.

Compared to the most productive states, Oregon boasts an unemployment rate about 100% higher.

Oregon's lowest-ever recorded jobless rate was 4.7% in April 1995.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The unions grimly hold on

Time Magazine backs Newhouse on strike

Showdown in Portland

Time Magazine, Feb. 22, 1960

From house to house in Portland moved union teams, exhorting tenants to cancel their subscriptions to Portland's two daily newspapers, the morning Oregonian and the evening Oregon Journal. As a substitute, subscribers had the offer of a new weekly tabloid published by the Portland Interunion Newspaper Committee in a desperate attempt to win a strike that was already three months old. During those three months, the dispute had become a finish fight, eyed closely by printing-craft union men and newspaper publishers all over the U.S. At stake: the capability of newspapers, using modern equipment, to get along with fewer of the skilled hands of the powerful, featherbed-prone printing-craft unions.

Weekly Improvement. The strike began last November when 54 Oregonian and Journal stereotypers walked off their jobs in protest against the Oregonian's plans to buy a highly automated German plate-casting machine. When other printing craftsmen followed, Oregonian and Journal brass joined forces, moved into the Oregonian's mechanical department, began putting out a pied, but still readable, combined edition of the Oregonian-Oregon Journal (TIME, Nov. 23). A call for mechanical help went out to nonunion papers throughout the U.S., and the jointly published paper soon was limping along with 72 experienced hands recruited from as far away as Florida. As the months wore on, the imported work force was gradually replaced by 350 unskilled workmen hired locally and trained on the job.

Management's showdown effort was costly. Before the strike, the morning Oregonian had a daily circulation of 242,035, the p.m. Journal, 188,677. Oregonian Publisher Michael J. Frey estimates that total circulation has dropped 70,000; the Portland Newspaper Guild's President Robert L. Shults has set the loss at 160,000.

Half Pre-Strike Size. But the unions were even harder shaken. When the pressmen, among the last of eleven unions to go out, joined the stereotypers, the papers fired them; the National Labor Relations Board upheld the dismissal. And violence broke out as the papers appeared to be proving their point: that modern, automatic printshop machinery can run on unskilled labor with far fewer hands than union featherbedding clauses demand. In January, ten newsprint delivery trucks were dynamited; last week five persons were indicted in connection with the bombings, including a member of the stereotypers' negotiating board.

Neither side shows any inclination to settle. The papers, getting along with a mechanical staff less than half the pre-strike size, have set March or April as target month for returning to separately printed, normally competitive publication. The unions grimly hold on. "This is one strike we cannot afford to lose," says a representative of the international stereotypers' union. In fact, if the unions do lose, it could make a big difference in the publishing business throughout the nation.

Part 7 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Collusion among "competitors"

Using a labor strike to gain a monopoly


Time Magazine, Nov. 23, 1959

It was an odd newspaper that landed on Portland, Ore. doorsteps one morning last week. One story read from right to left, the top and bottom decks of a headline were transposed, the sports-page date was upside down, and the logotype read: THE OREGONIAN OREGON JOURNAL. But what was most surprising of all about the paper was that it appeared at all. It was published jointly by Portland's frequently feuding morning Oregonian (circ. 242,035) and evening Journal (circ. 187,588) - and union employees of both papers were on strike.

The strike began with Portland's 54-member Stereotypers' Local No. 48, whose key demand was that four-man crews be used on a new German automatic press plate casting machine, designed for operation by one man, that the Oregonian plans to buy. The Journal refused to bargain separately, and the stereotypers walked off both papers, to be followed by members of all the other newspaper unions. At that point the executives, editorial-page writers, ad salesmen, secretaries and other nonunion employees of the Oregonian and the Journal put on yellow aprons and ran off a joint, jury-rig paper on Oregonian presses.

They had their problems. Don Newhouse, 30, nephew of the Oregonian's owner Samuel I. Newhouse, read from a manual while helping to keep the presses running ten hours a day. Harry McLain, the Journal's vice president in charge of sales, complained that some of the workers were being careless with ads; he took over, promptly pied a full-page ad. Since the printers had taken their tools with them, Oregonian Editor Robert C. Notson had to use a tiny screwdriver from his key ring to punch leads between the linotype slugs on Page One.

But the makeshift effort seemed to be working. There were no cancellations from advertisers, and from the first day's 24-page, 43,000-copy edition, production had moved up by week's end to a Sunday edition of 48 pages, with a press run of 520,000 copies. At that rate it appeared that the Journal and the Oregonian may have turned their composing-room comedy of errors into a long-run test of strength.

Part 6 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Sustainability update 1.1

"News deposit" added to Bottle Bill revision
Victoria's Secret - done deal. Next up - Macy's.

With Democrats now in firm control of all three branches of Oregon state government, among the early-action priorities for the new Legislative session starting Jan. 8 is some simple post-election payback for environmental groups: a long-overdue update to Oregon's first-in-the-nation Bottle Bill that has been unchanged since it was adopted 36 years ago.

The reforms were made a centerpiece of the recent Oregon Law Commission report and will include raising the deposit per container from 5 cents to 15 cents, and extending the law to cover all beverage containers that have been exempt, such as for juices, tea, smoothies, kefir, milk, water, and spirits. Democratic Governor Tim Nesbitt has already endorsed these changes.

Upping the ante. The stakes were raised at a Monday morning news conference in Salem, where Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders joined with a consortium of local and national environmental groups including ForestEthics, Dogwood Alliance, Greenpeace, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Rainforest Action Network.

In a stinging PowerPoint presentation detailing the harmful environmental practices of large-scale magazine and newspaper manufacturing, state Sen. Ben Westlund (D-Bend) used multiple plasma displays featuring dramatic, shifting 3D imagery to convey in stark terms the enormous emissions of greenhouse gases - responsible for global warming - and of benzene - a known carcinogen - that result from the production of newspapers and magazines consumed by unwitting Oregonians.

Legislative leaders then issued a bipartisan challenge to Kulongoski, asking for his pledge to reject any amendment to the Bottle Bill that does not include a novel "news deposit" on consumer purchases of environmentally-harmful newspapers and magazines.

The Legislature's plan for a first-in-the-nation "news deposit":
* 50 cents per copy for newspapers published more than once per week

* $2.00 per copy for ad-rich Sunday newspapers

* $1.00 per copy for weekly newspapers or magazines

* $2.00 per copy for high-chemical content, glossy monthly magazines or advertorial "inserts" like The Oregonian's new "Ultimate"
The news deposits would apply to all publications that bear more than 15% advertising and that are sold or distributed for "free" in Oregon. (The latter method of distribution will no longer be allowed.) In-state member publications like the Northwest Labor Press will be exempt.

As with containers, the news deposits will be collected at the point of purchase. Under the proposal, licensed print publishers and newsstands will be required to remit news deposits to the state of Oregon General Fund via electronic funds transfer each day. There are strict penalties for non-compliance and a new bureau within the State Auditor's office will be added with broad permitting and enforcement powers, modeled on the nationally-praised Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

New non-refundable feature. Unlike containers, however, news deposits will be non-refundable, even to those who recycle paper. Instead, according to Our Oregon spokesperson Chip Terhune, news deposits will likely be tapped at the end of the session to finance a new trust fund for state and local employee retirement benefits that fall outside of PERS, such as coverage for elective cosmetic surgery and automobile insurance.

Falling into line? According to ForestEthics, more than a dozen corporations - including, locally, the Portland Trailblazers and Norm Thompson Outfitters - have agreed to voluntary best-use policies, and dozens of others including Beaverton's Nike, Inc. have made environmental commitments.

Newhouse/Advance, owners of the newspaper chain that includes The Oregonian and the glitz & glamour stable of Condé Nast magazines, has declined to participate in any studies of its output or operations and has steadfastly refused commenting to investigative reporters concerning its controversial environmental and editorial practices.

Separately, ForestEthics announced yesterday that Macy's has been selected as the target for a new corporate responsibility campaign. The group will employ the negative-template used on the recently-concluded Victoria's Dirty Secret campaign that achieved "mission accomplished" status Dec. 6 after a sustained, two-year effort. Macy's, which recently acquired the Meier & Frank stores, is The Oregonian's largest advertising account.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Striking it rich, part 3

A long, violent strike - and a monopoly

The strike didn't begin until 10 November 1959. The day before, Leo McCoy, who specialized in such newspaper problems, received a call by prearrangement at this office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "Get as many people to Portland as fast as you can," he was told. Within hours, three planes carrying fifty-nine well-seasoned strikebreakers, many toting rifles and shotguns, were on their way.

Early the next morning, a picket line was established outside the Oregonian building, and at nine o'clock the Oregon Journal's top people arrived to hand over the paper's masthead and its other typographical furniture. For the rest of the day and into the afternoon, a makeshift crew led by Don Newhouse struggled to put together a twenty-four page newspaper. "It was pretty poor typographical product," recalled Bob Notson, then the paper's editor and later publisher," and the printing was uneven. It looked strange with two flags on it. But it was a paper."

Late that afternoon, when the Oregonian-Oregon Journal rolled off the presses, Newhouse achieved his goal. In the process, he had helped create the worst labor battle in Portland's history.

The wait for the end of the Portland strike turned out to be longer and more violent than anyone had expected. As far away as Oklahoma and Florida, strikebreakers' homes were attacked, and in Portland delivery trucks were dynamited, with all sorts of lesser sabotage being perpetuated inside the newspaper plant. Nearly a year after the strike started, on the evening of Sunday, 16 October 1960, an unidentified gunman severely injured Don Newhouse with a shotgun blast through the basement window of his house in the Portland hills.

All the while, Newhouse continued to dicker for the Oregon Journal, which ceased to be a legitimate competitor the moment it agreed to cooperate with the Oregonian. On Friday, 4 August 1961, its owners and their representatives agreed to sell for $8 million. Within the month, the Sunday edition of the Journal was gone, and the paper's remaining operations moved to the Oregonian's plant on Southwest Broadway. The strike continued, however.

Toward the end, Portland's mayor, Terry Schrunk, paid Newhouse a secret visit in New York. The unions, he said, were ready to go back to work. Newhouse immediately flew to Portland for a meeting at which he planned to help Frey arrange to accept the strikers' capitulation. But Frey wouldn't go along. He'd rather quit, he informed his boss, than let the unions back into his paper. So be it, said Newhouse, and returned to New York as quietly as he'd arrived.

(© Richard H. Meeker, "Newspaperman", p.195-196)

Part 5 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Denying deniers' denials

Al Gore Caught Warming Globe To Increase Box Office Profits

The Onion

Al Gore Caught Warming Globe To Increase Box Office Profits

Environmental officials claimed that Gore's tire fire in Akron, OH was "completely out of line."

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M-SS update 1.4

The Oregonian editors featured in Doonesbury

Around Newhouse corporate headquarters at Advance Publications, the New York based owner of The Oregonian, Multiple-Standard Syndrome is no joke.

But now, foibles at the state's daily monopoly and dominant news organ have become the subject of national ridicule, since Garry Trudeau's syndicated comic strip, Doonesbury, began poking fun at Portland a week ago.

Last Friday, Doonesbury depicted passengers riding up the new Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit System (PHARTS). A "Tram Concierge" points to OHSU, announcing:
"After disembarking, take a few moments at the Kohler Pavilion Interpretive Center display. This month, The Oregonian editors are guinea pigs in a lab experiment being conducted by out-of-state interests."
The Newhouses also took some heat in Sunday editorials around the state.

The Medford Mail-Tribune editors, wagging a rhetorical finger at "arrogance and hypocrisy", scolded: "The Oregonian isn't just a disgrace. It's a national laughingstock."

Editors at the Bend Bulletin, making a pitch for disgruntled, sticker-shocked advertisers in fast-growing Deschutes County, called The Oregonian "an unregulated Oregon tollbooth for the Newhouse billionaires in Manhattan."

The Daily Astorian editors chided, "Doonesbury has plenty of mileage left in Portland and at The Oregonian."

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

PERS talks shelved

A huge investment in anti-competitive politics

The Oregonion has learned that the sit-down slated to resolve the simmering PERS issue has been shelved. Disgruntled Oregonian reporters and representatives of the labor group Our Oregon were to have met with at least one management member from the statewide monopoly daily and dominant news organ, in an attempt to short-circuit the labor-management dispute.

Our Oregon's radio spots are depicting the delay as a routine holiday interruption, but a senior reporter at The Oregonian, speaking on condition of anonymity, divulged that management is in total disarray and nobody really knows what's going on.

The Oregonian's M-SS issue spokesperson - Oregon Medical Association President Andris Antoniskis, M.D. - would not comment on the status of the Managing Editor who had first agreed to the sit-down, but who was later removed from office by medical experts and taken to OHSU.

Workers are unhappy because management unilaterally imposed rules requiring the forced use of certain colloquialisms - even those with which writers and copyeditors disagree (such as using "a" instead of "per" in units of measure.) The workers are disgruntled that their influence in Style Guide issues was essentially terminated without negotiation. Leaders of the uprising described management's PERS move as "an unacceptable giveback."

Management corps have been decimated as the condition dubbed "Multiple-Standard Syndrome" has swept ranking editors from 1320 SW Broadway into OHSU for quarantine and treatment involving a California genetics company. At least four editors have received implanted embryonic stem cells in a highly controversial procedure.

The comic strip Doonesbury recently featured the story, describing editors of The Oregonian as "guinea pigs in a lab experiment being conducted by out-of-state interests."

Portland pollster Adam Davis disclosed that surveys showed management had fumbled its incumbent advantage and labor has gained considerable momentum, as evidenced by Our Oregon's seat at the table.

Davis cautioned against putting too much stock in the labor group's ad message that sitting down at this time of year is rare, saying, "Clearly the elections were a mandate to increase government spending and repair the political infrastructure that has been systematically torn apart by competitive forces introduced in the 1990s. The Oregonian and the Newhouse family have made a huge investment in anti-competitive politics and we are in a crucial pre-session organizing mode right now. Anyone not moving forward is really falling behind."

Neither Oregonian Publisher Fred Stickel nor Therese Bottomly, the remaining Managing Editor, returned phone and email inquiries from The Oregonion.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Corporate thievery

This is how the Newhouses do it, too.

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Striking it rich, part 2

Pay $12,000 per year. Get $10,000 per day.

Had the extreme belt-tightening measures begun in 1956 not antagonized nearly every union employee at the newspaper, the stereotypers' walkout would have been a short-lived affair, for theirs was not a well-respected union.

But so much hostility had developed toward management that a general strike over the issue of the stereotypers' contract was conceivable, and Frey's uncompromising attitude only exacerbated the situation.

Moreover, encouraged by his success at union busting in St. Louis, Newhouse had even higher hopes for Portland. He wanted to be in a position to make newspaper history by continuing to publish the Oregonian even if all of its unions walked out.

Preparations began at around the same time that he started the economy drive at the Oregonian. First, he arranged to have his brother Theodore and Mike Frey appointed to the American Newspaper Publishers Association's Publishing Premium Fund Committee.

Previously, Newhouse had taken little interest in the ANPA's activities, but this committee got special attention, because it was in the process of establishing strike insurance for America's newspapers. In return for annual premiums of $12,262.50, the Oregonian would be entitled to recover as much as $10,000 per day in the event of a strike.

Equally important, Newhouse and Frey secured from their Portland competitor, The Oregon Journal, assurances that it, too, would stand by the Oregonian in the event of a strike.

This curious promise could well have been an outgrowth of the "handshake" deal Jerome Walker believed Newhouse had cut with the Journal's owners back in 1950.

The heart of their plan was even more extraordinary. Starting in mid-1959, Newhouse had Frey direct the Oregonian's most trusted nonunion personnel - mostly supervisors in the advertising and circulation departments - to report for extra duty. Late at night, after the city edition had been put to bed and the regular production crew had gone home, Frey's men would sneak in to the back shop, where Don Newhouse and others trained them to operate the equipment.

(© Richard H. Meeker, "Newspaperman", p.194-195)

Part 4 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Reason to fear for democracy

The Oregonion regrets that this article is almost 20 years old. If, according to Lord Byron, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," then an update to this article after two decades of consolidation would show the Media Monopoly to be even more powerful and corrupt than indicated here.

The Media Brokers
Concentration and Ownership of the Press

by Ben Bagdikian

If all major media in the United States - every daily newspaper, magazine, broadcasting station, book publishing house, and motion picture studio - were controlled by one "czar," the American public would have reason to fear for its democracy.

The danger is not that this single controller would necessarily be evil, though this kind of extravagant power has a grim history. Whether evil or benevolent, centralized control over information, whether governmental or private, is incompatible with freedom. Modem democracies need a choice of politics and ideas, and that choice requires access to truly diverse and competing sources of news, literature, entertainment, and popular culture.

Today, despite 25,000 media outlets in the United States, 29 corporations control most of the business in daily newspapers, magazines, television, books, and motion pictures. The dominant 29 corporations are:
  • Bertelsmann, A.G. (books)
  • Capital Cities/ABC (newspapers television)
  • CBS, Inc. (television)
  • Central Newspapers
  • Coca-Cola (motion pictures)
  • Cox Communications (newspapers)
  • Dow Jones & Co. (newspapers)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica (books;
  • Freedom Newspapers
  • Gannett Co. (newspapers)
  • General Electric Co. (television)
  • Gulf + Western (books, motion pictures)
  • Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
  • Hearst Corp. (newspapers, magazines)
  • International Thomson Org. (newspapers, magazines, books)
  • Knight-Ridder (newspapers)
  • Macmillan (books)
  • McGraw-Hill (magazines, books)
  • New York Times Co. (newspapers)
  • Newhouse (newspapers, magazines, books)
  • News America (newspapers)
  • Reader's Digest Assn. (books)
  • Scripps Howard (newspapers)
  • Time, Inc. (magazines, books)
  • Times Mirror Co. (newspapers)
  • Triangle Publications (magazines)
  • Tribune Co. (newspapers)
  • Universal-MCA (motion pictures)
  • Warner Communications (motion pictures
The 15 corporations that dominate the daily newspaper industry have all become larger in the last five years. The largest company, Gannett, increased from 88 papers to 93, its total circulation rose from 3,751,000 to 6,101,000. Though in those five years total national circulation for all 1,676 papers has risen slightly from 61 million to 62.8 million, the number of dominant corporations has shrunk from 20 to 15, and the number of daily papers in the country continued to diminish.

The 15 at the end of 1986, in order of their total daily circulation were:
  • Gannett Company - USA Today and 92 other dailies
  • Knight-Ridder, Inc. - Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald and others
  • Newhouse newspapers - Staten Island Advance, Portland Oregonian, and other papers (Newhouse, a private firm, also owns Conde Nast magazines and Random House book publishing)
  • Times Mirror - Los Angeles Times and others
  • Tribune Company - Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, and others
  • Dow Jones & Company - Wall Street Journal and Ottoway newspapers
  • New York Times - New York Times and others
  • Scripps Howard - Pittsburgh Press and others
  • Thomson - 77 dailies
  • Cox - Atlanta Journal and others
Tightening concentration was most dramatic in magazines, which from 1981 to 1986 went from 20 dominant corporations to six. The chief cause was further enlargement of Time, Inc. which, despite some failed attempts at starting new magazines, acquired other magazine groups to give it 40 percent of all U.S. magazine revenues. The six dominant corporations, in order of annual revenues, are:
  • Time, Inc. - Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and others
  • Newhouse - New Yorker, Glamour, Vogue, and others
  • McGraw-Hill - Business Week, Byte, and others
  • Triangle - TV Guide, Seventeen, and others
  • Hearst - Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and others
  • International Thomson - Medical Economics and others

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Friday, December 15, 2006

New Yorkers threaten Oregon

12-year-old's gun show
Son of retired NYC police officer brought his father's unloaded weapon to his Medford school, cops say
BY EMERSON CLARRIDGE, Newsday Staff Writer, December 9, 2006

The 12-year-old son of a retired New York City police officer was arrested Friday and charged with juvenile deliquency after he brought a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun to his Medford middle school, police and school officials said.

The boy, a seventh-grader at Oregon Middle School, was released into his father's custody. He was not identified.

Read the entire story: here.

Everything Oregon? - an occasional letter or story that doesn't measure up to Newhouse/Oregonian advertorial standards yet qualifies for other news publications

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Striking it rich, part 1

"There were anti-management feelings everywhere." - Wallace Turner

The Oregonian had been the most loosely managed of Newhouse's papers. It was, thus, the one most susceptible to budget cutting.

"The reins were first tightened around 1958," recalled a man who was then in the paper's management. "They brought in a new, efficiency-minded composing room superintendent from California, and Don Newhouse began to assert himself."

This Newhouse was S.I.'s younger first cousin. After starting as an office boy at the Long Island Press and graduating from MIT with a degree in engineering, Don was sent to Portland in 1951. At first, he did little more than watch what went on in the back shop and was conspicuous more for his bashfulness and badly crossed eyes than for any technical expertise. Over the next five years, however, he became a force to be reckoned with.

The savings Don Newhouse and the new efficiency expert effected in production did not go unnoticed in the newsroom. Solely to cut costs, for example, the Oregonian's design was simplified, and fewer banner headlines were used. Late sports scores were held for subsequent editions, and last-minute changes on breaking news stores were discouraged.

These changes were minor annoyances, however, compared to management's sudden stinginess about pay raises. By the mid-1950s, it was clear to everybody at the paper that the Oregonian's financial position had improved markedly, yet non of the benefits seemed to be accruing to the employees.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Wallace Turner, who left the newsroom in 1956 to begin his rackets investigation and then received a fellowship at Harvard, was perhaps in the best position to observe the results of management's newfound tightfistedness. He recalled that, when he left, the Oregonian's newsroom was a happy, upbeat, hardworking place. "But when I came back [a year later], I suddenly realized the animosities I couldn't imagine." Money, Turner explained, was the central grievance: "There were anti-management feelings everywhere, because there were limits on everybody."

In 1959, when the stereotypers' cushy contract came up for renegotiations, publisher Mike Frey, after consulting with Newhouse in New York, ordered the Oregonians's key labor negotiator, Bill Morrish, to fight on every issue that pertained to to salary or productivity. Toward the end of the unusually harsh negotiations, Morrish pulled out a surprise much like the one Newhouse had employed in St. Louis.

This time, it was a new piece of equipment, known as the M.A.N. machine. Not yet installed at any other American newspaper, it would eliminate three out of every four stereotypers' jobs at the Oregonian. With this one masterful stroke, the paper's leas productive union was backed into a corner. The stereotypers could either accede to the gutting of their department or strike. Their international union, fearing the installation of the M.A.N. machine at other papers, ordered a strike.

(© Richard H. Meeker, "Newspaperman", p.193-194)

Part 3 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Labor abuses spread

Labor Exploitation Update

The number of former Oregonian correspondents pursuing claims against the daily for back benefits has risen to nine from the original two who filed suit in federal court in October (see 'Correspondents Course,' WW, Oct. 25, 2006), and an additional 10 are contemplating claims.

The new claimants make the same allegations as the initial pair, claiming that they performed all the duties of staff reporters but were treated as independent contractors with significantly fewer benefits.
Willamette Week, Murmurs, Dec. 13, 2006

'Correspondents Course'

Two former correspondents for The Oregonian have filed a federal lawsuit against the newspaper, claiming they were wrongly treated as independent contractors rather than employees.

The difference in compensation for reporters classified as contractors and those classified as 'staff reporters' is substantial, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday by longtime correspondents Jeanie Senior and Beth Quinn.

The suit seeks forgone benefits of $236,000 for Senior and $72,000 for Quinn because 'plaintiffs were not offered or allowed to participate in any of the employer-sponsored [benefits] plans The Oregonian offered to its staff reporters.' (Wages aren't a subject of the suit.)

Employers have long tried to save the cost of benefits, withholding taxes and higher salaries by hiring contractors to do work that full-time employees might otherwise perform.

In their lawsuit against The Oregonian, Senior and Quinn make a number of claims in an attempt to establish that they were employees in all but name.

They say they performed substantially the same work as staff reporters and worked full-time 'under The Oregonian's direction and control,' and that the newspaper paid their expenses (contractors typically pay their own).
Willamette Week, Oct. 25, 2006

Read the entire story: here.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Absolutely terrified of unions

"A kind of insurance policy against organizing."

While the culture of Condé Nast (the stable of Newhouse glitz and glitter magazines) naturally bred a never-to-worry-about-money attitude, there was a reason beyond style or tradition for perks that included an unlimited flow of petty cash in the form of advances against expenses that the employee might or might not actually accrue.

There had been, off and on, attempts by the Newspaper Guild to organize a union at Condé Nast. Picketers had even congregated outside the Condé Nast building. A year or so after her arrival in 1980 as an editor of Glamour, Kim Bonnell was summoned to a meeting. Gathered in the room were Si Newhouse, the managing editor of Glamour, a couple of "corporate types," and a lawyer or two.

"I was really baffled as to why I was asked to this meeting, Bonnell recalls, "but it turned out that it was about unions, and I had come from the [New York] Daily News where I was a member of the union. And I heard ... that Si was absolutely terrified and concerned that the union would try to come into Condé Nast and they thought that I might be organizing."

One of the men, not Si, questioned her about the guild and whether she was still a member. It may have been naive of her, she says in retrospect, but she didn't feel particularly intimidated, and she heard no more on the subject of unions, from Newhouse or his lawyers or anyone else.

Si really had little to worry about, Bonnell adds, because her colleagues "had no sympathy for the union, even though they were getting terrible salaries and terrible benefits and no one cared because their parents were supporting them anyway."

Still, Si wasn't going to take any chances, and it was after this union scare, Bonnell adds, that the company upgraded its salaries and benefits to bring them in line with those given to newspaper reporters. The perks continued, both as a matter of style and as a kind of insurance policy against organizing.

(© Carol Felsenthal, "Citizen Newhouse", p.169-170)

Part 2 in a series, "Newhouses and labor unions"

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Unusual gifts

The Hottest gift selections for the Pop Culture fanatics and Political Junkies on your list.

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Potentially meaningful development

Experts focus like a laser on mutation

Two more Associate Editors of The Oregonian - Mary Pittman Kitch and David Reinhard - have been removed from office and admitted to OHSU as the M-SS epidemic has now claimed eight editors at the state's dominant news organ. (Click on topics in the sidebar for a chronological review.)

Words led medical experts directly to Kitch, who has worked closely with previously hospitalized Associate Editor Rick Attig: "Property-rights Measure 37 was sold to voters with the quaver of an elderly voice. The measure was crudely drawn, but when it was approved two years ago, voters had every reason to think they were freeing some of their fellow Oregonians from a cruel time warp."

There had been concerns about Reinhard long before his celebrated "ugly experience" at the send-up motion picture Borat.

The periodic removal of pairs of editors has become routine. Over the past month, a couplet of editors from 1320 SW Broadway has been removed from office each week and sequestered at OHSU. At least four have undergone experimental and controversial stem-cell implant surgery including Editor Sandra Mimms Rowe and Executive Editor Peter Bhatia. Rumors are swirling about Pill Hill and City Hall that the owners of The Oregonian, New York billionaire brothers Si and Donald Newhouse, have been admitted to OHSU. The brothers had been quarantined at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and are said to be candidates for the experimental surgery.

Yesterday, all this was overshadowed by a potentially meaningful development in the medical investigation.

Since mid-November, biosocial forensic experts have been pouring over work product and archives at The Oregonian in a Herculean effort to determine the etiology of Multiple-Standard Syndrome, the malady that is wreaking havoc on Newhouse publications like The Oregonian. The degenerative disorder has become increasingly common in newsrooms in recent decades. The only known partial cure is career change.

Yesterday, The Oregonian's issue spokesperson Andris Antoniskis, M.D. again rejected career change as an option, and repeated that there was little to say. But he indicated progress in identifying a genetic mutation thought to be involved that could eventually lead to an effective treatment protocol.

Commenting on lab experiments conducted on The Oregonian editors' DNA by the New York-based experts, Antoniskis described a section of the M-SS victims' genome located at a position called 'M44' that has long been considered "junk DNA". A typical sequence would contain various sense combinations of A-C-G-T; instead, the editors' M44 is marked by repeats of the anti-sense sequence C-A-T.

According to Antoniskis, The Oregonian's quarantined editors are exhibiting an anti-sense behavior pattern with an uncanny correspondence to the genetic mutation:
"They become captivated by crayons and chalk, using them to spell out out simple words in large, ungainly letters. They are writing and saying 'C-A-T. See? C-A-T. Cat.' Also, they have frequently begged to 'go outside and play.' Black moods come over them at times and they throw violent tantrums. Lastly, they are tending to overindulge a newfound sweet tooth."
Multnomah County libraries were kept open late Saturday so the out-of-state experts could track leads. It is said that they were looking back into decades of print archives, indicating a possible long latency period for M-SS. A startling implication buzzed around the City - the likely presence of many previously-undiagnosed "carriers" among media professionals in Oregon and throughout the far-flung, privately-held Newhouse media empire.

The parent company of The Oregonian, Advance Publications Inc., is owned by the New York-based Newhouse brothers, and is considered the largest privately-held media empire in the nation, worth in excess of $20 billion. Advance includes a chain of highly-profitable monopoly newspapers and a stable of high chemical content, money-losing glitz and glamor magazines. Advance also owns a nascent cable TV network with profits that are in-line with the cable industry's geographic monopoly standards.

The Newhouse print properties have huge undisclosed and unfunded environmental liabilities with regard to greenhouse gas and benzene emissions but political experts predict that regulatory officials will likely turn the other cheek when confronted with legal violations out of deference to the legendary power of the elite Newhouse billionaires.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Seeks equality in Eugene

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The wrong message

Governor's staff selections send the wrong message

I just read your Nov. 30 article "Governor names new chief of staff, deputy in shuffle" and just about fell over. We have known for many years the Democrats cater to the labor unions and Democratic governors appoint union officials to important boards and commissions, but the appointments of Chip Terhune and Tim Nesbitt as Gov. Kulongoski's new chief of staff and new deputy chief of staff are over the top.

Special-interest groups have an enormous amount of influence in our political system. The very idea Gov. Kulongoski is bringing leaders of the most powerful special-interest groups in the state to be his advisers is unbelievable.

These people, along with a Democratic House and Senate, are wonderful news for the unions. I hope there will be enough money left over for a couple of textbooks and maybe to fill a pothole or two. I don't know how many more PERS-type programs I can afford.

Salem Statesman-Journal, Dec. 6, by David G. Bailey, Silverton

Everything Oregon? - an occasional letter or story that doesn't measure up to Newhouse/Oregonian advertorial standards yet qualifies for other news publications

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

Does Portland always know best?

The advertorial cheerleaders known as "management" at The Oregonian strike a pose that government in Oregon - and Portland in particular - sets a progressive standard that the nation ought to follow. Folks in progressive Madison, Wisconsin, are among those paying attention to our Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit System (PHARTS).

Let's leave the tram in Portland

Listening this week to a new song devoted to public transportation in Portland has led me to conclude that Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz needs to expand his vision of how Portland's futuristic ideas can be transferred to Madison.

I am not sure why Mayor Dave, who suffers from a strange affliction that might be identified as Portland-envy, has not, as far as I know, mentioned the Oregon city's most ambitious public transportation project.

Actually, though I am not sure why, I do have a pretty good idea, and will present it momentarily. I will also present a bit of the new song about the project, written by a Portland resident and embraced by a couple of reporters from the Portland Oregonian.

Many Madisonians will remember the trip to Portland that Mayor Dave made in June 2004. Upon his return, the mayor rhapsodized about the electric streetcar system in downtown Portland. During a slide show to members of Downtown Madison Inc. in July 2004, Cieslewicz spoke of his vision of a similar system in Madison.

"We need to develop a market and culture in Madison of people who will live car-free," Cieslewicz said. A short time later, Cieslewicz announced he was using a $300,000 planning grant to create a Streetcar Feasibility Study Committee. This occasioned a memorable headline from my Cap Times colleague Ron McCrea: "A Desire Named Streetcar."

It also brought the mayor criticism from people who like to drive their cars and are leery of another expensive move into mass transit. More surprisingly, there was criticism on the left as well, from those like County Exec Kathleen Falk who envision a grander, countywide train system.

Cieslewicz was undaunted, and in May 2005 the streetcar committee met for the first time. "I hope in years to come this will be thought of as an historic night," the mayor said. "It's a good night to be a Madisonian." The streetcar committee has yet to issue its feasibility report, which means there is still time to pursue our channeling of Portland's public transport to the next level.

In the past few years, Portland considered, debated, and began construction of an aerial tram. The tram, scheduled to open next year, will carry passengers 500 feet above ground and cover the half-mile distance between Portland's South Waterfront district and the Oregon Health & Science University in about three minutes.

It will also cost a ton of money.

In January 2003, when design bids for the project were submitted, the estimated cost of the tram was $15.5 million. As seemingly always happens, it didn't take long for that figure to rise. By April 2004 the estimated cost had grown to $28.5 million; a year later, it was $40 million; in August 2005, when construction began, the projected cost was $45 million; and now, with the tram set to open next year, the final cost has been reported to be around $55 million. (Though a Tacoma newspaper, the News Tribune, last month put the final estimate at $57.6 million. And a Portland alderman told the paper that the aerial tram project manager "no longer works here.")

A recent editorial in the Portland Oregonian put the blame for the skyrocketing cost on "a dramatic upsurge in steel prices" and a desire on Portland's part to build something that would be "a shining model for cities everywhere."

There is a contest to name the tram cars in Portland, but a resident, Richard Bruno, who lives under the tram route, has already nailed it. He calls them Twinkies and wrote a song about them posted by Oregonian reporters that goes, in part:

"Well the St. Louis arch got one hell of a view/But you can have good arches with orthopedic shoes/Jump on the Twinkie/Won't get no tickets, won't use no more gas/Just pay a daily fee/Or get a pass/Well the Golden Gate Bridge got one hell of a view/But Portland's got like 10 of them, all lined up for you/So ride the Twinkie/C'mon ride the Twinkie."

The question for Madison is: Where can we build a tram? The obvious answer is Bascom Hill. They are knocking down the Humanities Building anyway, so we could put the station there and run it up Bascom all the way to Bascom Hall. The tram could serve as a shining example of town and gown cooperation. It would be a selling point to prospective students, who would never again have to walk up Bascom against a January wind while nursing a hangover.

We could build it there. Or we could consider the possibility that Portland doesn't always know best.

The Capital Times - Wisconsin's Progressive Newspaper, Nov. 30, By Doug Moe

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Friday, December 8, 2006

Hypocrisy - double standard - controversy

Who's on first?

Issue spokesperson Andris Antoniskis, M.D. has stirred up a controversy over the diagnosis of Multiple-Standard Syndrome as it applies to the strange conduct displayed by editors of The Oregonian.

While sociobiologic forensic experts labor to determine the etiology of the illness that has overtaken the state's dominant news organ, The Oregonion takes an opportunity to inform readers of the key terms and definitions in play.

Hypocrisy is the act of pretending or claiming to have beliefs, feelings, morals or virtues that one does not truly possess or practice. The word derives from the late Latin hypocrisis and Greek ὑπόκρισις hypokrisis both meaning play-acting or pretense. The word is arguably derived from ὑπό hypo- meaning under, + κρίνειν krinein meaning to decide/to dispute [1].

Truly believing in one's right to a behavior whilst denying others the same right does not fit under the definition of hypocrisy, but should rather be termed as holding a double standard, thus leading to the most common misuse of the word. Examples of behavior mistakenly attributed to hypocrisy include issuing or enforcing dictates one does not follow oneself and criticizing others for carrying out some action while carrying out the same action oneself. This erroneous application of the word leads some people to believe that most people, if not all, are hypocrites; they tend to criticize what they perceive to be bad behavior in others, yet will justify it when they are inclined to perform the same action. Rather, this form of behavior is closely related to the fundamental attribution error, a well-studied phenomenon of human psychology: individuals are more likely to explain their own actions by their environment, yet they attribute the actions of others to 'innate characteristics', thus leading towards judging others while justifying ones' own actions.

Hypocrisy is a deliberate pretense used to convey sentiments or ideas that are false (acting as if one likes something or someone or agrees with a belief or political position when in fact they do not).

Some people sincerely regret that they cannot overcome temptation over some harmful behavior. An example is someone who says something like, “Please never start smoking. I wish I could stop." Also, some people genuinely fail to recognize that they have character faults which they condemn in others. This is called Psychological projection. This is Self-deception rather than deliberate deception of other people. People understand vices which they are struggling to overcome or have overcome in the past. Efforts to get other people to overcome such vices may be sincere. There may be an element of hypocrisy as well if the actors do not readily admit how far they are or have been subject to these vices.

"Do as I say and not as I do" is not a false representation of one's own true feelings or beliefs (including moral beliefs). It is the belief that one is above or otherwise not subject to the same rules they apply to others. An adult proscribing alcohol or tobacco use, or driving or sexual behavior to a minor is an example. As is the proponent of one religion condemning the adherents of another religion for conduct or actions that members of the first religion carry out. Or a person indulging in licentious behavior and at the same time, forbidding or denouncing others for practicing the same.

A passage from the Christian Gospel of Matthew is often cited as the typical example of the hypocrite: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye" Matthew 7:5. The passage means that it would be ridiculous to help someone remove a splinter or a piece of sawdust from their own eye, if you yourself had an entire log in yours and hadn't first tried to remove it (i.e. attempt to resolve your own flaw). See the Discourse on judgementalism.

See also:A double standard, according to the World Book Dictionary, is a standard applied more leniently to one group than to another. For example, the belief that it is permissible for teenage boys, but not teenage girls, to engage in premarital sex is a double standard. When judicial processes are applied more strictly to some people more than others, such double standards are seen as unjust because they violate a basic maxim of modern legal jurisprudence, that all parties should stand equal before the law. Double standards also violate the principle of justice known as impartiality, which is based on the assumption that the same standards should be applied to all people, without regard to subjective bias or favoritism based on social class, rank, ethnicity, gender or other distinction. A double standard violates this principle by holding different people accountable according to different standards. While double standards are generally condemned in the abstract, they are also very common.

There is a subtle distinction to be made between double standards and hypocrisy, which implies the stated or presumed acceptance of a single standard, but which in practice may be disregarded. If a man believes it is his right to have extra-marital affairs, but that his wife does not have such a right, he holds a double standard. A man who condemns all adultery while maintaining a mistress is a hypocrite.

Efforts to defend real or purported double standards usually take the form of denying that a double standard is being applied or attempting to give a good reason for the disparate treatment (in which case it is a double standard but it is a favorable or acceptable double standard). For example, children are generally forbidden from acts such as drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, while adults are usually permitted to perform such acts with impunity. This differential treatment could be described as a double standard, because people are being held to different standards. However, one defending this differential treatment could argue that there is a good reason for the different treatment — that children are inherently less capable of making mature decisions regarding those activities, so they should be protected from risky and potentially harmful behavior. Supporters of this argument may also point out the fact that use of alcohol and tobacco at a young age can irreparably cause damage to a child's brain development. The counterargument, then, would be that children are not inherently less able to make good decisions, as there are some people who are more mature in their decision-making than other adults, so that age is an arbitrary criterion.

A controversy is a matter of opinion or dispute over which parties actively argue, disagree or debate. Controversies can range from private disputes between two to large scale disagreements.

Perennial areas of controversy include religion and politics. Controversy in matters of theology has traditionally been particularly heated, giving rise to odium theologicum. Controversial issues are held as potentially divisive in a given society, because it leads to heated debates, arguments and tension. Some controversies are considered taboo to many people, unless a society can find a common ground to share and discuss their feelings on a certain controversial issue.

Benford's law of controversy, as expressed by science-fiction author Gregory Benford in 1980, states "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

The term is not always used in a purely noble manner. The use of the word tends itself to create controversy where none may have authentically existed, acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Propagandists, therefore, may employ it as a "tar-brush," pejoratively, and thus create a perceived atmosphere of controversy, discrediting the subject:

"Beatrix Potter's creation, Peter Rabbit..." vs."Beatrix Potter's controversial creation, Peter Rabbit..."

Thus controversy may itself be judged controversial: see list of controversial books.

On the other hand, controversy is also used in advertising to try to draw attention to a product or idea by labeling it as controversial, even if the idea has become widely accepted to a given segment of the population. By doing this, the company hopes that people will wish to "see what all the commotion is" and pay to view the medium. This strategy has been known to be especially successful in promoting books and films.

Many of the early Christian writers, among them Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Jerome, were famed as "controversialists"; they wrote works against perceived heresy or heretical individuals, works whose titles begin "Adversus..." such as Irenaeus' Adversus haeresis. The Christian writers inherited from the classical rhetors the conviction that controversial confrontations, even over trivial matters, were a demonstration of intellectual superiority. See Christian theological controversy.

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