The Bend Bulletin reports that its editor, Erik Lukens, will step down as the paper emerges from bankruptcy under the new ownership of EO Media Group.
Heidi Wright, chief operating officer of EO Media, said the editor position is critical to the paper and the company felt a change was needed. The decision had nothing to do with Lukens' ability as an editor, she said.
"That's pretty normal when a newspaper changes ownership," Wright told the Bulletin.
Lukens started at the Bulletin as an editorial writer in 1998 and moved to The Oregonian in 2012. As editor of the editorial page there, he and his team won a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for a series of pieces on the struggles of the Public Employees Retirement System.
At The Oregonian, Lukens earned a reputation for challenging the progressive orthodoxy that dominates Oregon politics, and for stylish writing (he holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University). He returned to the Bulletin as editor three years ago. Since then, the paper has struggled financially, the result of declining advertising revenues and unwise investment decisions the paper's owners made in the early 2000s. Those financial pressures led the Bulletin's then-owner, Western Communications, to declare bankruptcy earlier this year.
The paper's new owners, EO Media, own 11 papers in Oregon, including the East Oregonian and the Daily Astorian, will now hire a new editor.
Lukens could not immediately be reached for comment by WW but wished his former colleagues well in a statement.
"I am grateful for my time at The Bulletin and appreciate everything the Chandler family has done for the paper and the community during its many years of ownership," Lukens said, referring to the family that has owned the newspaper since 1953. "I wish EO Media the best."