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Oregon loses yet another newspaper

Computer screen showing the front page of the Lebanon Express newspaper
Chris Lehman
The final edition of the Lebanon Express was published on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2023.

The year is less than a month old, and Oregon has already lost three newspapers.

The latest to shut down is the Lebanon Express, a weekly that’s served its namesake Linn County community for nearly 136 years. The final edition was published Jan. 18.

It comes less than a week after two southern Oregon papers, the Medford Mail-Tribune and the Rogue Valley Messenger, announced their closures.

The owner of the Lebanon Express is Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, which did not respond to a request for comment about why it shut down the paper. It a statement included on the front page of the final edition, it said “your trust in this newspaper has been an honor, and we wish to sincerely thank our readers and advertisers for your support over the years.”

Lee Enterprises also owns two nearby dailies: The Albany Democrat-Herald and the Corvallis Gazette-Times. The company suggested that coverage of Lebanon will continue via reporters based at the Albany paper.

“As our industry evolves, we need to focus our news resources on complete coverage of the entire region, which we will continue to do as part of the Albany Democrat-Herald,” the front page statement read.

That’s effectively how the city of roughly 19,000 people has been covered for some time now, according to an article in the final edition that chronicled the paper’s history and downfall.

The Express “was produced from an office in Albany after the local office was closed,” the article said.

A monument welcomes people to Lebanon, Oregon. It reads: "Welcome to Lebanon. Incorporated 1878. The City that friendliness built."
Chris Lehman
The Lebanon Express was established in 1887, less than a decade after the city was incorporated.

The closure of the paper is a “dagger” for the community, said Lebanon City Council president Michelle Steinhebel.

“After 135 years, to lose that paper is brutal,” she said.

Long before she was elected to city council, Steinhebel worked as an editor at the paper. She said it had a robust staff that was able to keep close tabs on nearly everything going in the farming community near the foothills of the Cascades.

“It was a pretty bustling office,” she said. “We covered school board, city council, but also community news. Kids going out on field trips to see salmon spawn. School projects for the science fair. Everything in between.”

Those stories are still going to happen, she said.

“I would hope that that coverage continues to happen through other newspapers in the area.”

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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