September 9th, 2009 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Breaking: Oregonian Publisher Fred Stickel Retires


Despite the differences WW and The Oregonian may have periodically, it's fair to say that Oregonian publisher Fred Stickel has been a giant in the industry.

He has also earned among the rank and file reporters and editors at the paper a reputation for protecting the newsroom from cuts long after other similar-sized papers began gutting their operations.

Stickel, who as publisher was responsible for the paper's business operations, announced his retirement today at the age of 87 at a time when his paper is going through another round of wrenching staff cuts that even he could not prevent.

One interesting note: prior to the precipitous decline of the newspaper industry in the past couple of years, the working assumption in the newsroom was that if Stickel ever retired either his son Pat, the paper's president, or Sandy Rowe, the paper's editor, would succeed him. But as you'll read at the bottom of the announcement, no successor has been named.

Here's the message that Oregonian employees received about 40 minutes ago:

> Fred Stickel 09/09/09 10:12 AM >>>
To All Employees:

The following news release announcing my retirement is being made
public today.

Fred A. Stickel, today announced his retirement as publisher of The
Oregonian, the newspaper he has led for 35 years.

“I am 87 years old,” Stickel said. “I love this newspaper and
the essential role it plays in Oregon and this community. But it is time
for me to retire and make way for new leadership. ”

Patrick F. Stickel, The Oregonian's president and son of Fred
Stickel, will serve as interim publisher until a new publisher is named.
He has chosen not to be a candidate and will assist in the search and
selection of the new publisher.

The newspaper, the oldest continuously functioning business in the
state from which it takes its name, won five Pulitzer Prizes and
numerous other national awards during Fred Stickel's tenure as

“I have worked with Fred Stickel for 56 years,” said Donald
Newhouse, the president of Advance Publications, which owns The
Oregonian. “In all that time I have never met another executive with
his ability to lead, to inspire, to adapt to an ever-changing world. He
is unique, irreplaceable and he is my friend.”

Stickel came to Oregon from New Jersey with his wife Peggy and six
children in 1967 to be general manager of the newspaper. In 1972 he was named president of the company and in 1975, he was named publisher.

He became deeply involved in the civic life of the community and was
named Portland's First Citizen in 1996. “The health of a newspaper
is closely tied to the vitality of the business and civic institutions
in the community,” Stickel said. I have been pleased to be involved
in so many aspects of community life.”

Of his many civic activities, he considered his work with the Citizens
Crime Commission, which helps police, the courts and private groups
fight crime, as most rewarding. He was active on the commission for
more than 20 years and was its founder and chairman in 1987.

Fred Stickel led the newspaper through technological transformation in
all aspects of newspaper production, from hot type made of molten lead to offset presses, from hand-delivered page dummies to the computer age. He was president and publisher of the company when The Oregonian and The Oregon Journal were merged in 1982. As publisher, he saw The Oregonian grow in staff size, quality and reach and fiercely guarded its integrity and independence.

In 1992 he took the unprecedented step of publishing a front page
editorial urging Oregonians to vote to defeat Measure 9, which would
have inserted restrictions on the rights of homosexuals in the Oregon
constitution. “My longstanding religious and moral views as a
conservative Roman Catholic are one thing. My lifelong commitment, both in peace and war, to defend and exult in the inalienable rights granted our citizens under the U.S. Constitution is another. This is what I stand for, and this is what Oregon stands for,” his editorial stated.
The measure was defeated with 57 percent of the vote.

“To his employees, Fred Stickel represents the soul of The
Oregonian,” said Sandy Rowe, who Stickel recruited and hired as editor
in 1993. “He is revered for his utter devotion to the newspaper, his
loyalty, his unwavering sense of fairness and his candor.” Known
also for his willingness to meet with employees, his dapper dressing and Marine-erect bearing, he commands both respect and deep affection among his staff.

“Newsrooms by nature are challenging places filled with creative,
sometimes cantankerous professionals often skeptical of authority. A
publisher represents the ultimate authority figure for a newsroom.
I've never known one more beloved than Fred. He is responsible for
many of us choosing to be here and for what we have been able to
accomplish,” Rowe said.

Fred Stickel's retirement will be effective Sept. 18 and a national
search for his successor will begin immediately.

Stickel photo courtesy of
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