Jack Ohman and Michelle Cole leaving Oregonian

by NW Spotlight

Willamette Week is reporting that cartoonist Jack Ohman and Oregon legislative reporter Michelle Cole are leaving the Oregonian.

Jack Ohman, who has been at the Oregonian for 29 years, posted an announcement on Facebook yesterday that he was leaving the Oregonian effective yesterday. He said he’d be announcing his next career move tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon. Ohman told WW “I have a couple of opportunities that are really interesting, but I’m really sad to be leaving the place I’ve spent my entire adult life.” Ohman was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning this year.

Michelle Cole will be going to work for Gallatin Public Affairs, a firm of “strategists, lobbyists, communicators, policy experts, researchers and organizers.” Cole was covering state government, primarily the Department of Human Services and the state legislature, for the Oregonian. WW noted that she “has won the Bruce Baer Award—Oregon journalism’s top prize for investigative reporting—and several first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.”

Update: Willamette Week reported on Thursday, Nov 1, 2012, that “Jack Ohman, who took a buyout from The Oregonian on Monday, is going to the Sacramento Bee.”

Background of troubles at the Oregonian

February 2010 Oregonian Layoffs

The Portland Mercury reported on Oregonian layoffs back in February 2010 of about 60+ staff, including Margie Boule, and noted that it was the first time the paper had ever done layoffs. There were three rounds of employee buyouts between 2008 and 2010. The Mercury noted that “At its peak in 2007, the O’s newsroom had around 450 staff,” but that after the February 2010 layoffs, the newsroom was expected to be around 200. A 2012 Willamette Week article placed the number of 2010 layoffs at 37.

June 2011 Oregonian Layoffs

Willamette Week reported on more Oregonian layoffs in June 2011. The Oregonian laid off around 40 employees in Production, Circulation, Finance and Advertising Support. None of the layoffs were in the newsroom.

November 2011 Oregonian Layoffs

Willamette Week reported on a second round of 2011 layoffs at the Oregonian in November 2011. The Oregonian laid off about 20 additional “business-side” employees. As with the June layoffs, none of the cuts came from the newsroom and sources at the paper “said executives didn’t rule out more layoffs in the future.”

August 2012 Possibility of Oregonian Not Publishing Every Day

Willamette Week reported a few months ago that the Oregonian might stop publishing every day of the week because the paper was losing readers and advertisers. The company that owns the Oregonian, Advance Publications Inc., had announced that it was moving to a web-based model and that it would be changing publishing schedules at many of the newspapers it owns. Advance did just that to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Advance announced the New Orleans paper would only be published three days a week and nearly half the staff were laid off.

WW said that following the changes at the New Orleans paper, “Staffers here say Oregonian editors now indicate the paper is likely to follow suit, although no one is saying when that will happen or how many days the newspaper will drop from its publishing schedule.”

Departures of Oregonian Staff

  • Reporter Jeff Manning left in August 2012 to become the spokesman for Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
  • Pulitzer-Winning reporter Julie Sullivan left in June 2011 for a Multnomah County PR job.
  • City Hall reporter Ryan Frank left in Feb 2011 to become publisher of the U of O student newspaper.
  • Peter Ames Carlin left the Oregonian in 2011 to write a biography of Bruce Springsteen.
  • Laura Oppenheimer Odom left in Nov 2009 to work as a communications coordinator at Metro.