Tag Archives: Oregonian

Bad day at the Big O: layoff blues

You’ve probably heard the news already. On Wednesday The Oregonian laid off 37 workers, 27 in the newsroom. The cuts have long been expected. Like the rest of the daily newspaper industry, the (not so) Big (anymore) O is trapped in a nightmare downward spiral triggered by landmark technological shifts, declining readership and, OK, its own reluctance to change with the times.

The Oregonian: a race to thrive and surviveI’ve waited to write this because even now I don’t know all of the names of the people who’ve been laid off. Lips have been tight, although The Mercury’s Matt Davis has ferreted out most of the hit list here. Predictably, a lot of online smart-alecks have been snickering about this. Don’t know what to tell them except they’re insanely stupid, and callous to the extreme. These are good, talented people, most of them extraordinarily dedicated to the public good, who are now out of work.

The possibly mortal weakening of the mainstream American press is nothing but bad news for our fragile democracy (or republic). Without the newspapers’ checks and proddings, who will speak authoritatively to power? In October of 2008 I wrote about the problems facing the news industry, and although that post offers no solid solutions (I’m no wizard), I think it lays out the difficulties pretty well.

Up until now, The Oregonian has managed the illness of its industry with remarkable grace. Maybe it hasn’t come up with answers (and maybe I’ve been frustrated by what’s sometimes seemed like a paralysis of will), but it has treated its people well, offering several generous buyout packages to its workers instead of just dumping them by the wayside, as so many other papers have. I took a buyout two years ago. My wife took one last May.

Pretty much everyone who was going to leave voluntarily has left. Now, the O has no real choice but to make the tough cuts by layoff. They’ve begun, and there could be more. I don’t pretend to understand how the decisions were made on who went and who stayed. Faced with the extraordinary difficulties of having to make these decisions about people’s lives and livelihoods, my own list would have been different in several particulars. But there’s no good way to do this thing.

Continue reading Bad day at the Big O: layoff blues

Interlude: On Wolf Creek and Jack London and a literary grocery clerk

Wolf Creek TavernToday, after a matinee performance of All’s Well That Ends Well, the extended Scatter Family leaves Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for dinner, bed and breakfast at the old Wolf Creek Tavern north of Grants Pass before a Labor Day drive back to Portland.

And by coincidence, today I have an essay in the books pages of the Sunday Oregonian that is inspired partly by a visit more than a year ago to the Wolf Creek Tavern, where Jack London stayed a spell in 1911 and wrote his short story The End of the Story. The essay took seed many months later when I was buying groceries back in Portland and encountered a checkout clerk who insisted on letting his customers know how much he liked Rudyard Kipling and detested Jack London. You never know where The Beginning of the Story is going to come from.

You can check out the essay, A Portland Moment: Literary Criticism in the Grocery Line, in the O! section of today’s Oregonian. Or, you can read it online here, on Oregon Live.

Late Monday Scatter: Sex and the single turkey

So here it is, Thanksgiving week, and here this corner of Art Scatter sits, tied to the care of two adolescent and near-adolescent boys who’ve been ruthlessly cast out by the public education system on the flimsy excuse that teachers are entitled to a holiday. Ha.

Still, that hasn’t stopped us from reading. And curiously, what we’ve been reading about — in family newspapers, no less — is S-E-X. Or, as some quarters would have it, something to be thankful about.

First, to the Willamette Valley town of Silverton, a pretty little village that’s the gateway to the fantastic glories of Silver Falls State Park and also happens to have a mayor who’s a very public cross-dresser. Silverton seems to be just OK with that, and more power to the town. Personally we never get farther than the L.L. Bean catalog when it comes to dressing up, but we always appreciate a little black dress and some scarlet high heels on someone else. Even if it’s the mayor, and his name is Stu.

The Oregonian’s Kimberly A.C. Wilson reports on Oregon Live about what happened when a group of ultra-conservative church folk from Topeka showed up in town to denounce the mayor’s evil-doings. Silvertonians pretty much told them to shut up and go home. Seems they weren’t in Kansas any more — at least not the truculent and loony Kansas of the Westboro Baptist Church, which makes a habit of sending moral storm troopers out into the Gomorrah that is the rest of America. As for the rest of us, we’ve come a long way, baby. And that includes Silverton.

Meanwhile, down in Grapevine, Texas, the Rev. Ed Young of the evangelical Fellowship Church is preaching the gospel of love. And by love, we mean love — the scattering, as it were, of the good seed.

Rev. Young and his congregation of 20,000 (and growing bigger every day) have embarked on a quest he calls Seven Days of Sex: All the church’s husbands and wives are challenged to have sex every day (with each other, of course) in order to strengthen their marriages and ward off the temptation of extramarital affairs. Word is, according to Gretel C. Kovach in the New York Times, things have been going swimmingly, or maybe glowingly. It’s a great way to build up your congregation, and actually, Rev. Young makes a terrific theological case for his position on the subject. In Portland he’d be called a Young Creative. Which is our excuse for mentioning him on our esteemed cultural blog.

Moving on from sex to death and Thanksgiving dinner, the Web’s atwitter with the “news” of Gov. Sarah Palin’s “pardoning” of a turkey slated for slaughter (a pretty darned common seasonal photo op for politicians across the land) and subsequent three-minute on-camera chat while other turkeys were methodically meeting their maker in the background. The Huffington Post huffed. Wizbang responded with the neocon view. The nonsacrificial turkey didn’t have a clue its life had just been spared. And here in the Art Scatter kitchen, we’re looking forward to that savory vegetarian mushroom bread pudding we’re going to whip together in a couple of days.

As they say in spin-land, happy holidays. And keep America weird.