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The front page of the newspaper on November 3, 1894
|Owner(s)||Guard Publishing Co.|
|Publisher||N. Christian Anderson III (June 2015–December 2015)|
|Editor||N. Christian Anderson III (June 2015–December 2015)|
|Founded||1867 (as The Guard)|
|Headquarters||3500 Chad Drive
Eugene, OR 97408
The Register-Guard is a daily newspaper published in Eugene, Oregon, United States. It was formed in a 1930 merger of two Eugene papers, the Eugene Daily Guard and the Morning Register. The paper serves the Eugene-Springfield area, as well as the Oregon Coast, Umpqua River Valley, and surrounding areas. As of 2013, it has a circulation of around 52,000 Monday through Friday, around 59,000 on Saturday, and a little under 60,000 on Sunday. The newspaper is owned by the Baker family of Eugene, and members of the family were in charge of nearly all departments within the paper until 2015, when, for the first time in 88 years, someone who is not a member of the Baker family took the reins as publisher and editor. It is Oregon's second-largest daily newspaper and one of the few medium-sized family newspapers left in the United States.
History of the Guard
In 1867, J. B. Alexander founded the Eugene Guard as a weekly Democratic newspaper. The following year, Alexander sold the paper to J. W. Skaggs who in turn sold it before the end of the year to the firm of Thompson & Victor. Thompson, who had previously been involved in the publication of the Eugene Herald, a paper founded in 1859, sold the Guard after a year and a half.
George J. Buys and A. Eltzroth purchased the paper in December 1869, and six months later bought out Eltzroth. Buys sold the paper eight years later to John R. and Ira Campbell, who would remain owners for 30 years. In 1890, the Eugene Guard became a daily newspaper. Charles H. Fisher took over the paper in 1907 and published it until 1912 when E. J. Finneran purchased the paper. Finneran bankrupted the newspaper in 1916, partly due to the purchase of a perfecting press that proved too expensive for such a small newspaper. The University of Oregon's journalism school briefly ran the paper during the receivership under the guidance of Eric W. Allen.
In April 1916, Fisher returned along with partner J. E. Shelton, forming The Guard Printing Company. Fisher continued to publish the Capital Journal in Salem until 1921. In 1924, after Fisher died, Paul R. Kelty purchased the Guard and published it with his son, before selling it in 1927. The paper was purchased in 1927 by publisher Alton F. Baker, Sr., whose father had published The Plain Dealer. Three years later, Baker bought the Morning Register and merged the two papers. Reporter William Tugman was recruited from The Plain Dealer to be the managing editor of the new paper.
In 1953, Tugman was one of four editors in the country to sign a declaration opposing Senator Joseph McCarthy's questioning of New York Post editor James Wechsler in closed Senate hearings. Eugene S. Pulliam of The Indianapolis Star, J. R. Wiggins, The Washington Post, and Herbert Brucker, of The Hartford Courant were the other editors to sign the declaration, calling Senator McCarthy's actions "a peril to American freedom."
Alton F. "Bunky" Baker, Jr., son of Alton F. Baker, Sr., inherited the newspaper in 1961 and later passed it on to his brother Edwin. In the late 1980s, it was handed down to Alton F. "Tony" Baker III, who remained the paper's editor and publisher for more than 28 years, until 2015.
In August 1996, a photographer and reporter from the paper were arrested by the United States Forest Service for trespassing at the site of a timber protest in a national forest. The Register-Guard responded by suing the Forest Service for violating the First Amendment freedom of the press. The criminal charged were later dropped and the civil suit was settled out of court.
Originally located in downtown Eugene, the paper moved to its current location in northeast Eugene in January 1998. The former Register-Guard building was leased by the University of Oregon and renamed the Baker Downtown Center for the Baker family. The building houses the university's printing facility, archives, and continuing education program, as well as the Oregon Career Information System.
In 2000, the company began negotiations with the employee’s union for a new contract, and during negotiations banned the use of the company email system by the union. This led to an unfair labor practice charge against the newspaper, with the National Labor Relations Board ruling for the paper in December 2007 that employers can ban employees' pro-union emails from the company email system.
In the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the newspaper saw a 1.6% increase in paper sales. In 2006, the paper received protests regarding its policy against including birth announcements from same-sex couples. It was reported that managing editor Dave Baker was very helpful when same-sex couples first complained "until he talked to Alton Baker [III], and then he stopped returning our phone calls." In November 2008, the Register-Guard finally changed its policy and printed a birth announcement featuring names of both the child's female parents.
In 2003, the newspaper reduced the width of the printing to 12.5 inches (320 mm) to reduce costs, and further shrank the paper to 11 inches (280 mm) in 2009.
In 2009, two separate layoffs reduced the newspaper's staff by the equivalent of 41 positions; by August 2009, it had 305 full- and part-time employees. The company's management blamed the layoffs on the "lousy economy" and advertising revenues that were 16% below projections in May and about 25% for June, July, and the first half of August.
In May 2015, Tony Baker stepped down as the Register-Guard's editor and publisher, after 28 years, making the end of an 88-year span in which someone from the Baker family had headed the paper. He was succeeded as editor and publisher by N. Christian Anderson III, who had been publisher of The Oregonian since 2009 and president of the Oregonian Media Group since 2013. Anderson began working in the new position on June 1, 2015, but held it for less than seven months. In mid-December 2015, Tony Baker, who remains the chairman of the Guard Publishing Company, announced that Anderson "is no longer Editor and Publisher" of the Register-Guard, and that the Baker family was taking control again.
The paper won in a tie for best feature photo in 1997 from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. In 1998, the paper took first place for science reporting from the Pacific Northwest Society of Professional Journalists competition for Excellence in Journalism. The Register-Guard took first place in the same competition in 2001 for best arts coverage. In 1999, the newspaper was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Spot News Photography, for its coverage of the community's reaction to shootings at Springfield's Thurston High School by student Kip Kinkel.
The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's 2010 General Excellence Award again went to The Register-Guard, and so did the association's Best Overall Website award.
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