A year ago, we did something crazy. We started this paper.

Anyone who follows the national or regional news knows that this is not exactly the golden age of newspapering. At the depth of the recent recession in 2008-09, American newspapers were folding at the alarming rate of two per week. Among the storied mastheads that were buried during those dark days were the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Rocky Mountain News.

Although industry obituaries have slowed, papers have continued to struggle, with many papers slashing their staffs, shrinking their page counts and reducing their delivery days.

So why, a year ago this week, would the Pamplin Media Group have launched the Hillsboro Tribune? For starters, community papers, with their strong connections to local advertisers and readers, have fared far better than daily papers. And, Hillsboro offered a unique opportunity for our brand of journalism. As we explained in our inaugural issue of Sept. 7, 2012:

“Having a presence in Washington County’s largest city has long made sense for our company, which owns more than a dozen community newspapers in the Portland area, from Sandy and Lake Oswego to Forest Grove and Scappoose. We’re taking the plunge now because we’ve heard from so many people that there’s an acute need for a paper that’s involved with the community it covers, balances hard news with features and offers affordable advertising.” 

Response to the Tribune proved that we were right. The paper, which started as a twice-a-month publication, went weekly this spring, allowing us to add to a local staff that already had deep roots in the community. And, although the paper is available free on the streets and in stores, 1,100 people have subscribed during its first year.

We’ve heard that you like learning about your neighbors and community members, such as organ maker Duane Kuhn, Metro President Tom Hughes, artist Jane Aukshunas and retired teacher Margaret Huggett. You appreciate our ability to break major stories, from the effort to secure property tax revenue from the state to the Oregon Renaissance Festival’s decision to set up shop at the county fairgrounds this summer.

You have praised our coverage of the Hillsboro Hops, high school teams, the Washington County Museum’s new digs and the turmoil within the local cop shop. And, at times, you’ve told us when you thought we got it only half-right or completely wrong.

The one response we didn’t expect was from our colleagues at The Oregonian, who didn’t take kindly to what they perceived as a threat to the Hillsboro Argus.  Rather than investing in that once-robust paper, they instead started the Forest Grove Leader and, later, the Beaverton Leader, to “take on the Pamplin papers” (their words, not ours), which include the News-Times of Forest Grove and the Beaverton Valley Times.

Further confusing the local media landscape, The Oregonian in May transformed the Argus to a primarily free publication, with a mass distribution on Wednesday, and then announced that starting next month, it will stop delivering its Monday, Tuesday and Thursday editions of  the daily Portland paper.

What does this mean for readers?

For now, newspaper readers in Hillsboro will have fewer options on some days of the week and more choices on others. And, in a growing market like Hillsboro, such competition is healthy and sustainable.

There’s enough room here for multiple news sources, and we hope people continue to include the Hillsboro Tribune in that mix and keep giving us constructive (and, at times, pointed) criticism about how we can better serve our community as we embark on our second year.

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