The Oregonian reports that the "O" logo was burned into a reclaimed wood wall with a torch.

The Oregonian reports that the “O” logo was burned into a reclaimed wood wall with a torch.

Courtesy of Oregonian Media Group

OPB has learned The Oregonian newspaper will substantially reduce its news operations in Washington County. The paper’s three Washington County weeklies will consolidate into one operation.  

According to multiple sources at The Oregonian, the company is moving away from geographic coverage and more toward issue-oriented beats for daily news coverage. The result of that is the Forest Grove Leader, Hillsboro Argus, and Beaverton Leader are being rolled into a single operation known as the Washington County Argus. Sources say the change will begin Jan. 13.

The Forest Grove and Beaverton newspapers were launched under the leadership of former Oregonian president and publisher N. Christian Anderson III. According to The Oregonian, those papers were delivered each week to around 107,000 homes in their respective areas. The paper reported in 2013 that the Argus shipped to about 31,000 homes in the Hillsboro area

The Washington County manager for The Oregonian has taken a buyout, according to sources. Three other Washington County staffers were laid off.  

Forest Grove Leader editor Samantha Swindler stated on Facebook that her job will change to that of a countywide-columnist at the new paper.

“This has been a tough week for the Washington County bureau. We had layoffs affecting three dedicated friends and co-workers,” Swindler wrote.

At least 13 Oregonian staffers, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Read and metro columnist Steve Duin, accepted buyouts in the paper’s latest round of staff reductions, as first reported by the Willamette Week. The company also laid off several staffers as it cut 25 positions in total.

According to multiple sources, the paper is moving toward a model of selling books on local subjects – like the Portland Timbers championship run — and upping Web page click counts. The Oregonian Media Group’s vice-president of content, Mark Katches, has also reportedly overseen the creation of a “trending team” of eight people to follow developing stories that pull in spikes in web views.

Katches declined to comment for this story.