Bob Pamplin Sells His Newspapers to Mississippi Firm

Pamplin Communications includes the Portland Tribune and 23 other papers.

Robert Pamplin, Jr.

Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr.’s foray into the media business appears to be over.

Pamplin has sold Pamplin Communications, which includes the Portland Tribune and 23 other Oregon newspapers, to Carpenter Media Group, a Mississippi publisher that owns 180 papers across the U.S. and Canada. The transaction, which closed June 1, was first reported by the trade publication Editor & Publisher. Terms were not disclosed.

Pamplin, who in the 1990s occupied a spot on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, has overseen the decline of the industrial empire he inherited from his father, Robert Pamplin Sr., the CEO of Georgia Pacific. The elder Pamplin built a chain of textile mills in the American South and also ran Ross Island Sand & Gravel, a Portland aggregate and concrete company.

The younger Pamplin, an ordained minister, diversified into Christian publishing and broadcasting and purchased Community Newspapers, a string of suburban publications, and several radio stations before founding the Portland Tribune in 2001.

Pamplin started the Tribune in the wake of an investigation by then-Oregonian reporter Brent Walth into Ross Island Sand & Gravel’s acceptance of contaminated soil to refill the 120-foot hole in the Willamette River bottom that Ross Island created through its gravel mining. Pamplin raided The Oregonian for talent and hoped to knit the suburban papers with the Tribune and radio stations into a media giant that could compete with The Oregonian’s then highly lucrative hold on local and regional advertisers. The strategy never worked.

As WW has reported, Pamplin has resorted to selling unused industrial real estate, including Ross Island itself, to his firm’s pension fund, in dozens of unusual transactions that experts have said may violate federal pension law.

Related: New Documents Show Pamplin’s Risky Pension Machinations Have Gotten Worse

Now, Pamplin, 82, has sold off one of his most visible assets. “After 25 years of operating Oregon’s largest newspaper group, we decided to sell,” Pamplin said in a statement to Editor & Publisher. “Due to age and health reasons, it made sense to pass the company onto somebody else who will carry on the tradition of balanced journalism the old-fashioned way.”

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