The Oregon Journal

The Oregon Journal

The Oregon Journal was Portland, Oregon's daily afternoon newspaper from 1902 to 1982. The Journal was founded in Portland by C. S. Jackson, the publisher of Pendleton, Oregon's East Oregonian newspaper, after a group of Portlanders convinced Jackson to help in the reorganization of the Portland Evening Journal.



The Portland Evening Journal was first published on March 10, 1902.[1] This newspaper began as a campaign paper owned by A. D. Bowen, with William Wasson as the first editor.[1] However, the paper floundered and was being liquidated by July 1902. The Evening Journal, was then taken over by Jackson, who had been the publisher of the East Oregonian based in Pendleton.[1] Jackson renamed the paper the Oregon Journal.[1] In his first editorial as publisher, he declared: "The Journal in head and heart will stand for the people, be truly Democratic and free from political entanglements and machinations, believing in the principles that promise the greatest good to the greatest number---to ALL MEN, regardless of race, creed or previous condition of servitude......It shall be a FAIR newspaper and not a dull and selfish sheet......(and) a credit to 'Where rolls the Oregon' country." Jackson continued as editor and publisher until his death in 1924. He was succeeded as publisher by his son, Phillip, who remained at the helm of the paper until his death in 1953.

The Journal competed with the state's major newspaper, The Oregonian, touting itself as the "strong voice of the Oregon Country." The paper was involved in a number of early 20th century crusades for reform, including better control of Oregon timberlands, adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall laws, direct election of U.S. senators, for pure milk, and dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel to allow development of Portland as a major world port.

In 1947, the Journal became the first newspaper in the country to employ a helicopter on a regular basis to gather news photographs. Pictures taken from the helicopter, known as the "Newsroom Dragonfly," were prominent in the paper's pages. The Journal's associate publisher, C.S. Jackson II, was killed when the helicopter, which he was piloting, crashed.

The Journal's circulation peaked in 1948, with daily sales of 201,421 and Sunday circulation of 217,808.[2] But the forces that led to the paper's demise many decades later were already at work. The death of the younger Jackson left the Journal without a family heir. In this era, afternoon newspapers began their decline due to the rise of television, changing commuting patterns and other forces. The paper's economic vitality was further sapped by a lengthy strike against both Portland newspapers that began in November 1959. The newspapers published a joint strike edition, but while separate publication of the Journal resumed the next year, its circulation never approached pre-strike levels.

Sale to S.I. Newhouse

Although the will of C.S. Jackson's widow, Maria, had specified that the newspaper's stock should be transferred to its employees upon her death, the trustees of her estate challenged that decision in court. Eventually, the courts ruled that the provision was written in wishful, not binding language. Maria Jackson had bequeathed the bulk of her estate to a charitable foundation she established in the will. In 1961 the trustees, believing that losses from the strike could bankrupt the paper and deprive the foundation of much of its principal, sold the Journal to The Oregonian's publisher S. I. Newhouse for eight million dollars. This amount was twice the bid made by an Oregon group. Newhouse had acquired The Oregonian, Portland's morning daily, in 1950. Newhouse consolidated production and business operations of the two newspapers in The Oregonian's building while keeping their editorial staffs separate. As a result of the Newhouse acquisition, publication of the Journal's Sunday edition was discontinued.


The Journal was published at four downtown Portland locations during its 80-year history. From 1902 to 1912, it was headquartered in the Goodnough Building at Fifth and Yamhill Streets. In 1912, the newspaper moved to a 12-story building it had constructed at Southwest Broadway and Yamhill Streets. (The building, now known as Jackson Tower, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996.) The paper had outgrown that structure by the 1940s, and in 1948, the Journal moved to a three-block long structure on SW Front Avenue that had originally been constructed in 1933 as the Portland Public Market. That building was the paper's home until the Newhouse acquisition in 1961. It was torn down in 1969 and is now the site of Tom McCall Waterfront Park.


The Journal never recovered the readership lost in the 1959 strike. Its circulation steadily declined through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1982 the Journal was shut down due to declining circulation and advertising revenues. Most of its reporters and many of its features were moved into the revamped Oregonian. The final edition was published on September 4, 1982.[2]


The paper's last publisher was William W. Knight, father of Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Other key creative forces in the paper's final decades included Editor Donald Sterling Jr., columnists Dick Fagan (creator of Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park) and Doug Baker, Sports Editor George Pasero and prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly.

Archives of the Journal are maintained by The Oregonian. Its legacy lives on in KOIN, Portland's CBS affiliate. It was an extension of KOIN radio (AM 970, now KUFO; and FM 101.1, now KXL-FM). On September 21, 1932 The Journal purchased its second station KALE. This is now KKPZ. On March 30, 1946 KOIN was sold to Field Enterprises, Inc., Marshall Field III, President. On June 6, 1948 KALE became KPOJ standing for, Portland Oregon Journal. Also on this date KPOJ-FM was launched, which today is KUPL. The stations were sold in 1961 to make way for the Journal's sale to The Oregonian.


  1. ^ a b c d Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  2. ^ a b Crick, Rolla J. (September 4, 1982). "Journal ends 80 years of service". Oregon Journal.

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