Thanks to Tribune, still covering some big stories decades later
It has been an honor to work for the Portland Tribune on behalf of its readers for 20 years. As the first reporter hired in late 2000, I felt privileged to help launch the first new general interest newspaper in the city since the Oregon Journal folded 19 years earlier. I sincerely believe the city continues to benefit from its focus on local news, sports and events.
Over the past two decades, Portland Tribune reporters and editors have worked hard to understand and explain the many events that have helped shape the city since it was founded, beginning with the 9/11 terrorism attacks that roiled the county, the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd. Time and again, the reporters and editors have risen to the challenge of localizing such sweeping events, in addition to covering the day-to-day stories that mean so much to so many readers.
I'm proud of many stories the Portland Tribune has published over the years, including the "Secret Watchers" series based on the Portland Police Bureau's "Red Squad" files that a court ordered to be destroyed. I'm also proud of many of my own stories, beginning with the first issue's front page analysis of an audacious and ultimately unsuccessful effort to radically change the midtown blocks proposed by former Oregon politician Neil Goldschmidt when Vera Katz was mayor of Portland. Other significant stories include my series on the missing girls in Oregon City, which identified murderer Ward Weaver as the prime suspect before he was arrested and convicted.
The Portland Tribune also gave me the opportunity to follow up on two stories that I first worked on as a reporter for Willamette Week more than 30 years previously. One was the murder of Starry Night music promoter Tim Moreau by club owner Larry Hurwitz, who is now serving time in California on drug and illegal money charges. The other was the murder of Oregon Corrections Director Michael Francke and the very real possibility that the man convicted of the killing, Frank Gable, is innocent.
Working at the Portland Tribune also gave me a front row seat to the incredible changes that journalism — my chosen profession — has undergone since the first issue was distributed on Feb. 9, 2001. They include the disruptive but necessary shift to a mix of print and online stories that has forever changed the concept of deadlines or even final versions of many stories. Difficult decisions have repeatedly been made, especially during economic downturns, to keep the paper viable and relevant. Many newspapers across the country have not survived.
Along the way I've enjoyed working with some of the most talented people in journalism and publishing, including the two other surviving Portland Tribune "lifers," Denise Szott and Jason Vondersmith, and all of its former and current employees. They include the current newsroom comprised of Nick Budnick, Zane Sparling, Courtney Vaughn and Peter Wong, overseen by editors Dana Haynes and Vance Tong.
I've also appreciated being able to work with other Pamplin Media Group newspapers in the region, including helping to launch the Hillsboro Tribune (now the Hillsboro News Times) while on loan from the Portland Tribune in 2012. Not many reporters are fortunate enough to be able to say they've helped start two newspapers that are still in business these days.
Jim Redden covers City Hall, general news and the auto industry for the Portland Tribune.
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