Monday, August 06, 2018

Award-winning rural editor Les Zaitz will bring an online-only news site to Oregon’s capital city

Les Zaitz
Les Zaitz, the editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Ore., is creating an online news organization for Salem. He wasn't open to the idea at first, but decided to go for it after repeated urging from Salem investor Larry Tokarski. "On Sept. 17, the Salem Reporter will go live with Zaitz as CEO and editor and three full-time reporters who will cover 'local government, schools, business, nonprofits and state government,' according to a press release," Kristen Hare reports for the Poynter Institute.

It's not surprising that Tokarski pursued Zaitz so doggedly: Zaitz brings 45 years of reporting to the table along with a slew of awards for his work at The Oregonian and the Enterprise, including the 2018 Tom and Pat Gish Award and a 2017 Investigative Reporters & Editors Award.

Zaitz says the Reporter will have a paywall and, along with an investment of an undisclosed amount from Tokarski, will be funded by subscriptions. A subscription is $10 per month and $100 per year, and though the Reporter will accept advertising, he doesn't think ads will bring in much revenue. About 400,000 people live in the publication's market, and Zaitz is hoping enough will subscribe to make it sustainable, Hare reports.

Zaitz says he intends to focus on credibility and quality content, instead of clicks.  Though the area already has other media, including Gannett Co.’s daily Statesman Journal, the Salem Weekly, and the Salem Business Journal, Zaitz said he's not going to base coverage on holes left by other news outlets. "I'm pretending there's no other media there, let's put it that way," he told Hare. "Otherwise, you handcuff yourself."

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