Sometime in the past two months, the Oregonian quietly added a “new” member to the paper’s infamously right-wing editorial board: Their infamously right-wing publisher, N. Christian Anderson III.
Since he took over as publisher in 2009, the entire paper, especially the editorial board, has shifted further to the right to match his views. He sat in on endorsement interviews and in 2010 wrote that, “I always reserve the right as the publisher to determine our editorial position…” (He claimed at the time that that hadn’t happened yet.)
But he also changed the paper’s longstanding management structure. Traditionally, the editorial page editor would report to the executive editor of the newspaper, who in turn reported to the publisher. But Anderson consolidated his authority by having the editorial page editor report directly to him.
After veteran editorial page Bob Caldwell passed away, Anderson was able to hire a replacement who would more directly carry his positions on issues (and whose employment would be more directly attributable to Anderson). He hired Erik Lukens from the Bend Bulletin, home of the then-most-conservative editorial page in the state. Then, Anderson showed the door to David Sarasohn, the editorial board’s most reliably liberal voice. (Sarasohn still writes a column for the paper, but no longer serves on the editorial board.)
The result has been an undeniable, inelegant shift toward positions that are more conservative, pro-corporate, and anti-worker—frankly, even becoming even more at odds with the paper’s readership base.
Now, they’ve just gone ahead and done away with the façade that Anderson merely has some influence over the board, and have embedded him as an official member, codifying what was already obvious to anyone paying attention.
Meanwhile, circulation numbers at the Oregonian aren’t looking so hot…