The March 1979 acquisition of the Hermiston (Ore.) Herald in a stock-for-stock exchange with publisher Jerry Reed represented a pooling of interests. In a similar transaction that fall, the company acquired from Dick Nafsinger the remaining shares of the Hood River News, which had been operating as a subsidiary.
It all prompted a change of the corporate name from BlueMountain Eagle to Eagle Newspapers, Inc. and created a dynamic triumvirate of Denny, Dick and Jerry, who guided the company during a growth period that saw sales double.
The 1980s were ushered in with the addition of more Washington sites and a crossing of the Snake River into Idaho with the purchase of the Grangeville weekly, the Idaho County Free Press.
The first new Washington holding was the Camas-WashougalPost-Record, which came with a third press plant for the company and created a short-lived, free-distribution publication, the Evergreen Post. (The Camas operation was sold to the Vancouver Columbian in 2005.)
Another Washington weekly, the Sunnyside Sun and its pressplant were purchased in 1984. Three years after entering theYakima Valley market, Eagle Newspapers had its first daily. Tom Lanctot, publisher of Sunnyside’s Daily News, and Eagle executives came to an agreement to merge their two newspapers and press plants into what we know today as the Daily Sun News and Central Washington Press.
Another welcomed Oregon weekly flew into the nest in the mid 1980s—The Newberg Graphic—giving two Hood River News graduates, Jim Kelly and Bob Bigelow, a chance to earn their publisher wings.
In January 1988 Eagle took a bold, new step. The state’s second largest daily, the Eugene Register-Guard, and Eagle combined operations in the Portland suburbs, with Eagle as the managing partner. The new entity, Community Newspapers, included Eagle’s Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings and the Guard’s newspapers in Tigard, Tualatin, Beaverton and Forest Grove. (Community Newspapers was sold to the publisher, Steve Clark, in 1996, and now they are part of the Pamplin Media Group.)
Another new venture in the mid-1980s was launching an advertising publication for Salem that featured classifieds for the upper Willamette Valley with group buys into the nearby Eagle weeklies. Salem!Willametteland prompted the launching of Eagle Advertising and Distribution, yet another new venture.
Although they failed to survive, the distribution aspect of thebusiness was given new attention. A mailing service had been a part of Eagle Web Press, but it was spun off after acquisition of a mailing company, establishing Eagle Mailing Service.
The 1990s began with an entrance into niche markets with the purchase of Printer’s Northwest Trader. Before the decade ended, two others were acquired—Daily Shipping News and Freshwater News—and the Northwest Senior News was established.
Midway in the 1990s the opportunities arose to add a seconddaily, The Dalles Chronicle, and another Washington weekly, the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle.
During this time period the company web press plants in Hood River and Prineville were separated from the newspaper operations to become individual profit centers—Columbia Gorge Press and Central Oregon Press.
The New Millennium
The new millennium began with the purchase of Graphic ArtsPublishing in Idaho to establish Eagle Web Press-Boise.
Another niche publication, the Value Clipper based in Vancouver, Wash., was acquired in 2003.
The Little Red Book, handled out of The Dalles Chronicle office, became a separate profit center, and spurred phone book acquisitions and start-ups for several of the newspapers.
The Wilsonville Spokesman became a full-fledged newspaperwith paid circulation in 2007. It had been started in the mid1980s by the Canby Herald as a supplemental free-distribution publication for the nearby town.
Totality Marketing and Northwest Prime Time News in Seattle came—and went. As did a couple of ventures with Idaho magazines.
Newest in the nest are the Moneysaver operations in Lewiston, Ida., and Moscow-Pullman, Wash., along with publisher/manager Diane Johnson, who had been with the Moneysavers for 29 years.
In recent years the newspapers in Madras, Newberg, Grangeville and The Dalles moved into new homes, as did the NW Boomer and Senior News, located in Keizer, Ore. In addition to “bricks and mortar,” capital expenditures and human resources meet the challenge of rapidly changing technology. In the New Millennium, websites were established and newsroom lexicons grew to include words and phrases such as “paywalls” and “social media.”
So that’s a brief—or as brief as we could make it—history of the company’s growth in terms of holdings over 76 years.
Next we’ll turn to another aspect: how it operates.
But that’s a tale for our next installment!