Pamplin Media Group is upping the stakes in its battle with The Oregonian.

The company, which publishes the Portland Tribune, announced this afternoon it has bought six Oregon newspapers from Salem-based Eagle Newspapers Inc.

Five of the papers are in towns ringing Portland: the Canby Herald, The Newberg Graphic, the Molalla Pioneer, the Wilsonville Spokesman and the Woodburn Independent. A sixth, The Madras Pioneer, is in central Oregon.

The purchase brings Pamplin's total newspapers to 24. 

"It's a great move for us," says Pamplin newspaper division president Mark Garber. "It shows confidence on the part of our owner in community journalism."

The company, owned by textile and gravel magnate Bob Pamplin Jr., has been locked in a decadelong newspaper war with The Oregonian. That feud reached a new peak last fall when The Oregonian launched a weekly paper to compete with Pamplin in the 22,000-population town of Forest Grove, in western Washington County. 

Garber says this new purchase makes Pamplin even more competitive.

"It puts us on an equal footing with anybody in terms of delivering readers to advertisers," he says. "We're right up there with anybody else."

Eagle Newspapers Inc. was founded by Elmo Smith, an Oregon governor. His son, Denny Smith, is chairman of the board and was a Republican congressman from Oregon from 1981 through 1990.

It still owns daily newspapers in The Dalles and Sunnyside, Wash.