When I moved here in 1974 to start as a reporter at a new alternative newsweekly called Willamette Week, Portland was pretty Podunk. There was nothing artisanal, crafty or hip about it. My first house (and it's still my family home) cost $85 a month—heat, water and electricity included.
Portland did have promise—with a City Hall demonstrating amazing energy and vision, and a business community eager to take risks on making downtown better.
And WW—founded by local investors frustrated with the two daily newspapers—had plenty of spunk and ambition. The newspaper also faced a seemingly impossible financial situation.
Flash forward to today: Portland is in another universe. We are a darling of the national media, of urban planning directors and transit officials everywhere—and of young people thinking about where to put down roots.
Along the way, WW found its groove, too. We have assumed the role of community challenger-in-chief: We challenge corruption in public and private with our investigative work, and we challenge the conventional wisdom in our news reporting and arts and culture coverage. We do it all with a relatively small staff and a budget equivalent to the revenue of about three Little Big Burgers.
I have loved leading this newspaper as publisher since my business partner, WW Editor Mark Zusman, and I bought the outfit in 1983. The people who work here are smart, engaged, capable, generous of spirit, and fun. Their shared goal is to help you navigate what goes on here at every level, so we can all do our part to help make this a truly terrific place in which to live, work and play.
I'm now stepping aside as publisher, with Mark taking on the title and its responsibilities. I'll continue to work for WW's parent company and will concentrate on our businesses in North Carolina and New Mexico, the company's stable of specialty publications, and WW's Give!Guide, our annual campaign to raise money and volunteers for local nonprofits.
As I leave this post, our city is nagged by the concern that we lack a shared vision of what we want to be when we grow up. The early 1970s proved an inflection point in Portland's history. We're now at another of those moments, and I hope it will not be too long before we develop a stronger sense of purpose and move ahead confidently in a community that's at least as full of opportunity today as it was in 1974. WW will be at the forefront of that conversation. Our journalism is as strong as ever. And we remain incredibly lucky to have your engagement and support.
As publisher, I wrote an annual letter to you presenting a report on our fortunes and future. As I've said in each one, you are our reason for being. That will never change.
Richard H. Meeker