Oregon Capital Insider was launched in February 2015 to provide a convenient source of specialized news for individuals and businesses that require a deeper understanding of the trends, issues and personalities in state government.
Two family-owned newspaper companies created Oregon Capital Insider to counter a disturbing decline in independent news coverage of state government. Pamplin Media Group and EO Media Group combined their resources to form a team of experienced journalists in Salem.
The goal: To produce regular watchdog coverage of state government and provide timely intelligence and in-depth reporting to subscribers.
Three full-time reporters produce Oregon Capital Insider:
Paris Achen is an award-winning reporter who has covered news in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Texas. Achen joined Pamplin Media Group’s Portland Tribune in October 2015 after reporting on Vermont state government and politics for the Burlington Free Press. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s school of history, she went on to work as a general assignment correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, an education reporter for the Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon, and a legal affairs reporter for The Columbian in Vancouver, Washington. She has won awards for her work from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Claire Withycombe joined the Capital Bureau for the EO Media Group in August 2016 after two years at The Bulletin in Bend, where she covered crime, police and courts. Withycombe grew up in Arlington, Va., outside of Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago. Despite an east coast upbringing, her Oregon roots run deep. Her great-great-grandfather, James Withycombe, was the governor of Oregon from 1915 to 1919.
Mateusz Perkowskiis legislative reporter for EO Media Group’s Capital Press in Salem. He has covered agriculture and natural resource issues for that weekly agriculture newspaper since 2006. After graduating from Portland State University in 2004, Perkowski worked as a freelance writer for several publications before joining Capital Press full-time.
They are joined by an independent columnist Dick Hughes.
Dick Hughes writes the Capital Chatter column. With 40 years’ experience as an Oregon journalist, Hughes has worked at publications ranging in size from the semi-weekly McMinnville News-Register to USA Today. He recently left Statesman Journal Media, where he was the longtime editorial page editor, Sunday columnist and writing coach. He estimates that he has written more than 16,000 social media and online items, and more than 15,000 print pieces for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and a book. He operates Hughesisms LLC, a freelance writing and editing service based in Salem, and teaches college journalism.
This new venture comes at a time when the ranks of news reporters assigned to state capitals have declined significantly.
A Pew Research study found that the number of newspaper reporters assigned full time to state capitols nationwide had declined 35 percent in the past 11 years. The ranks of capitol reporters are even thinner in Oregon, which, according to Pew, has one of the smallest statehouse reporting contingents when compared with the state’s population.
Oregon Capital Insider bureau brings together two companies with a wide geographic footprint in Oregon. Pamplin Media Group owns 25 twice-weekly, weekly and monthly newspapers covering Portland and its suburbs, as well as communities in the Willamette Valley a
nd Central Oregon. EO Media Group includes 9 daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly publications serving communities in Eastern Oregon and the Oregon Coast. It also owns the Capital Press, which covers agricultural issues in the Northwest, and the Chinook Observer on the southern Washington coast.
Through their printed and online publications, the two companies reach about 1.5 million Oregonians each week — a number equivalent to roughly half of the state’s adult population.
“While statehouse news coverage is diminishing in Oregon and across the nation, our media groups have chosen to invest in increased scrutiny of state government,” said Steve Forrester, president of the EO Media Group.
Mark Garber, president of the newspaper division for Pamplin Media Group, added: “The Pamplin Media Group and EO Media Group are quite different in many respects, including the markets they serve, but they have several strengths in common. Both companies are owned by long-time Oregonians who care very deeply about this state. That’s why they are willing to invest in better coverage of state government even while other news organizations are cutting back. Both companies also have a strong tradition of balanced and responsible journalism.”
Adam Davis, founder of DHM Research in Portland, says his firm’s research over a period of many years has shown that Oregon residents want and need more information about how state government operates.
Said Davis: “Oregon Capital Insider represents an opportunity to start turning the tide of this negativity and low awareness with more coverage of the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of our state government. This is so important considering Oregon is at a crossroads in so many ways and needs all three sectors of our economy — private, non-profit and public — working together with good information.”
A Partnership of: