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July 2019

Oregon-based Family Newspaper Business Buys Bend Bulletin

In a closely-watched media auction, the EO Media Group, a family-owned company that has been publishing newspapers since 1908, outbid Adams Publishing on Monday for the Bend Bulletin and its sister publication the Redmond Spokesman. The central Oregon company originally placed a bid of $2.5 million, but ended up offering $3.65 million.

William F. Willingham’s Grit and Ink gives extensive insight into the development of the EO Media Group and the ethical decisions the Oregon company has made throughout its history. Its portfolio of local and regional newspapers epitomizes the spirit of a free press and the core values of journalism.

Enjoy a brief excerpt from Grit and Ink from R. Gregory Nokes’s “Foreword”: 

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Being part of a community is the clarion call to any newspaper. And few have responded to that call better than newspapers of EO Media Group, which began life as the East Oregonian Publishing Company. 

From Pendleton to Astoria, these papers have helped bring forth an array of fixtures. They include a bridge across the Columbia; a dam for cheap power, navigation and irrigation; survival of the Pendleton Woolen Mills; launch of the Pendleton Round-Up; preservation of Astoria’s Liberty Theater. These newspapers’ eyes have been focused on community development to create jobs, readers and civic betterment. They have also stood up to destructive forces such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation movement.

 J.W. “Bud” Forrester, editor of the East Oregonian until 1970 and The Daily Astorian until his retirement in 1987, perhaps said it best: “A good newspaper is the voice of its community.”

My late father, J. Richard Nokes, editor of The Oregonian, was a peer, friend and admirer of Bud Forrester. Both played a large part in the rapid growth of newspapers in Oregon at a time when newspapers were the main source of news in cities large and small.

Although I was away from Oregon for twenty-five years during my career as a foreign diplomatic correspondent for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., and Latin America, I had the pleasure of meeting Forrester.

 The first of the properties that would become today’s EO Media Group was the four-page East Oregonian, established by Virginia-born Mathew Bull in 1875. It went through several ownership changes before acquisition by C.S. Sam Jackson, the future owner of the Portland Evening Journal. Jackson was succeeded in 1908 by Edwin Aldrich, who would remain with the paper for 42 years. He was a graduate of Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU). He joined the paper as a reporter in 1904 and is described in this book as “an activist, unafraid to take up a public issue or controversy or promote a cause.”

 Aldrich helped engineer the major acquisition in 1919 of the Astoria Evening Budget, now The Daily Astorian. A dozen other newspapers and publications would be added during subsequent decades. The company spans the region with eleven newspapers and other publications in four states and a news bureau in Salem.

 In this detailed history of the growth of the newspaper chain from its fledging beginnings, you will read about the enterprising editors and publishers who guided the growth. Among them are Jackson, Aldrich, Merle Chessman, Bud Forrester, Amy Aldrich Bedford, Eleanor Aldrich Forrester, Mike Forrester, Steve Forrester, Kathryn Bedford Brown, Fred Andrus, C.K. Patterson, John Perry and many more. Beyond reporting the news of their communities, these leaders kept abreast of changing technology that included photo-offset printing, computers, digital journalism, centralized design and solar power.

 

 

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