Twenty years, good friends, fond memories; all while hitting deadlines
Outside the walls of the original downtown Portland office and our fledgling staff, cynics questioned why somebody would start a newspaper in the year 2001 and especially in a city that already had an established newspaper, The Oregonian.
A lot of people believed that the Portland Tribune wouldn't make it to 2002.
While readers and media members welcomed the new, colorful, informative and entertaining Portland Tribune, many of them predicted doom; believe me, I heard it all, including from staffers at The Oregonian, although their opinions meant nothing.
Cynics were wrong because they underestimated the commitment of our founder, Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr., among reasons for the Tribune 's now 20-year run. Portland wanted, and needed, an in-depth alternative news source to compete with The Oregonian. And the Tribune staff members possessed at the beginning, and still possess, what one colleague called an entrepreneurial spirit. You can't measure enthusiasm — original Tribsters had the desire to create something new and different, and it was a beautiful thing.
It was attitude exemplified by Dwight Jaynes, who was part of the small group of people who helped Dr. Pamplin start the Tribune. Many people know Dwight in Portland as a longtime sportswriter/columnist at The Oregonian and, after the Tribune, a radio personality and NBC Sports Northwest writer and commentator.
Dwight, who served as Tribune president and editor (and sports columnist), often talked about doing things differently and better than anybody else, The Oregonian included. We're here, we're good, deal with it. It also was a pleasure for me to work alongside Kerry Eggers and Steve Brandon, two sports media stars who took the risk to jump from The Oregonian to the new Tribune.
After 20 years, about 1,700 newspapers and some 7,000 stories by yours truly, from 20 years of sports coverage and nearly 12 years as Metro Life editor, memories have become too many to count. Like word association, you bring up an anecdote or a story, and all the details come to mind (for now).
One big highlight: Covering the Oregon Ducks football team and other sports assignments has taken me to 21 states and four Canadian provinces (for Winterhawks hockey and LPGA golf). I watched the Ducks play in 16 postseason games, 14 bowl games, two national championships, and nearly every regular-season game for nearly two decades. Although it was work and took me away from home I do find myself taking the proverbial step back and thinking, Wow, I've been blessed to see a lot of things, and, Thanks for being good at football, Oregon.
Reporters and editors have their different strategies, but I like to think mine has mirrored the mission of the Tribune: Think differently than other media — if I'm informed and entertained, the reader will be, too; develop great questions; utilize institutional knowledge; write stories like nobody else; and always be objective. It's a rewarding endeavor.
So, the Tribune turns 20. Having worked as a contract freelancer at The Oregonian, and at The Associated Press and The Columbian newspaper, it was quite interesting ramping up production of the Tribune in January/February 2001. I still remember the chaos — er, excitement — of the first night. Let's just say the kitchen had enough cooks. There must have been 12 editors and writers looming over the shoulder of two paginators putting out the Feb. 9, 2001, first edition. It was a proud moment, and we refrained from drinking until after deadline.
Times change. After some years, we developed internet coverage, and today it's 50% (or more) of our thought process. Social media has become a conduit for news. But like sports editor Steve Brandon and I used to revel in, ain't nothing like turning out a newspaper.
More than anything, the people have made the Tribune what it is. We had a lot of people in January 2001, and a few of us remain. As happens in media, even with hard-working ad sales people, layoffs occurred. Many employees left for greener pastures. And it's difficult thinking of the former co-workers who have passed away, including original editors Roger Anthony, Lora Cuykendall and Dennis Anstine.
From the first days of sitting in a cubicle with the always friendly Katie Essick and Margaret Davis, through the years of working alongside Steve Brandon and then producing Metro Life and Sports (with the pro's pro Paul Danzer, a good friend) in an otherworldly past 12 months, it has been quite a ride.
And, it was made possible by Dr. Pamplin, for which we all should be grateful.
Jason Vondersmith serves as editor of Metro Life and Sports for the Tribune.
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