From The Editor

Milestones in communication and the future of local news

It was a hundred years ago that radio stations began to be licensed by the federal government. Only a few frequencies were made available for broadcasting to the public at first, and all the early stations were either set up by hobbyist-experimenters, or by businesses for public-relations purposes.

Soon, though, AT&T put WEAF on the air in New York City, with the idea of seeing if they might be able to make some money with radio, and WEAF actually aired the first radio commercial – a fifteen minute paid discussion of an apartment development. But, in the end, AT&T found that what they called “toll radio” was less likely to be profitable than the leasing of telephone lines to other radio stations for networking purposes, and they sold WEAF to pursue the networking business.

However, they had the right idea. For ninety years, radio has been mostly supported by advertising revenues, as also is television. The model is a very old one – newspapers have printed paid advertisements in this country since papers first appeared, well before the Declaration of Independence. Since newspapers often have more costs of production and distribution than do broadcasters, it has been common also to charge for newspapers, or to sell newspaper subscriptions, to be profitable.

THE BEE is somewhat of an outlier. Until 1991 this newspaper – the second oldest neighborhood newspaper in the Portland region – was a paid weekly, with a fairly small distribution, until John Dillin bought it and saved it from its apparent doom. His strategy was to revive it as a free monthly, covering a much larger section of Southeast Portland -- running it by himself, with the help of a local advertising salesperson. In 2000 it was sold by Dillin to the Pamplin Media subsidiary “Community Newspapers, Inc”, and at that time your editor, Eric Norberg, replaced Mr. Dillin as its editor and general manager.

So, for thirty years now, THE BEE has been distributed free by mail to 16,500 residences and businesses in Inner Southeast, in “carrier routes” roughly from Powell Boulevard and Foster Road south to the Clackamas County line, and from near S.E. 82nd west to the Willamette River. 3,500 additional issues are also put on free newsstands around the area for those who don’t receive it in the mail, and also are sent to paid subscribers. We have an estimated 45,000 readers each and every month.

In the last ten years we have strived to be more and more thorough and complete in covering the news of the communities we serve – usually, most of our stories do not appear anywhere else! If you want to know all that’s going on here, generally you have to turn to THE BEE. That is our mission, and our goal.

But, even as we now serve more readers than THE BEE has ever had, ever since its origin back in 1906, it is with considerable irony we are finding that our financial foundation of advertising revenue is no longer what it was, and that’s a challenge for us.

Our advertisers still get excellent results, as you might gather from the many advertisers who continue with us year after year; effectiveness is not the problem. The problem is that the ways of advertising are increasing exponentially, and some of the biggest ad competition we face now come from such international behemoths as Facebook and Google – all of which do little if anything in the way of local news, save for what they can borrow from local media.

It’s not that we are not online! THE BEE was the first newspaper in our company to set up a website with all its news content on it – that was back in 2001, and it’s still there, updated monthly, at However, now our lead website, performing the same function, is hosted by our own company – We and our 24 companion local Oregon newspapers offer online advertising, too – some of the most extensive range of such advertising available from any local Portland ad medium. But our print readership is so strong, that most of our advertisers’ response still is driven by our monthly printed issue.

All this, to explain why you lately have begun to hear about “saving local journalism”, and you’ve heard it not only from newspapers, either. In an era in which “news” you find on “social media” is too often rumors and sometimes even propaganda, there has arisen a desire among local residents to be able to depend on news media that check and verify rumors before presenting them, and who are able to sift propaganda from fact.

The need for this, locally, is greater than it ever has been; but with the proliferation of the ways to advertise, the advertising funds available for all local media to underwrite it, even for TV, have been diminishing.

So what are WE doing about it?

Our parent company, Pamplin Media, is seeking to strengthen reader funding, in the same way that Oregon Public Broadcasting does – not, in our case, with pledge drives, but with subscriber campaigns. They have placed “paywalls” on many of the 25 newspaper websites, so that only paid subscribers would have full access to the online content of our journalism – with some other benefits added. You have already begun to see ads for this in THE BEE and our other Oregon local newspapers. (Click here to see one of them.)

In this spirit, your editor in January not only sent his annual check to O.P.B., but also paid for an annual digital subscription to all of our group’s newspapers – even though, as an employee, I really don’t have to. A number of other BEE readers have done so as well, and we are humbly grateful for all the support.

And, in December, a friend and very successful local businessperson, Sandy Hubbard, stepped up to assist me in THE BEE’s advertising efforts, as a freelance salesperson – to the extent that her busy schedule of helping national and international clients as a business consultant allows her the time to do so. She has edited and published magazines in Portland in the past, and many readers may already know her from her roots in the community. She will be making personal calls on local clients, and using her creativity to produce advertising results for them, in THE BEE as well as in our other local newspapers.

Newspaper people really aren’t among the area’s high earners! We do what we do because we love having you count on us to keep you abreast of everything that goes on here – both good and bad – and usually, with pictures!

But we just cannot keep it up if we can’t cover the costs of doing it. That’s our paradoxical challenge – in this time of our greatest and most devoted readership ever. We value and appreciate your coming along with us on this adventure!

Thank you for being a BEE reader!

Letters to the Editor
SMILE, Christmas Tree, Oaks Bottom Bluff, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon, Westmoreland
The tall SMILE living Christmas Tree on S.E. 13th, overlooking Oaks Bottom. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Thanks from SMILE


On behalf of the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) [neighborhood association] I would like to thank a generous neighbor who (anonymously) contributed to offsetting the cost of lighting our Christmas Tree along 13th Avenue. As a long-serving member of the Board of SMILE I can assure you that we appreciate the many supporters and volunteers that make Sellwood Moreland a very special place to live.

Pat Hainley, Treasurer
via e-mail

“Frosted Féte” drew a big crowd


We wanted to check in with you in regards to the Sellwood Community House “Frosted Fete” that took place on the day after Decemberville, this past December 8th.  We welcomed hundreds of community through our door to celebrate the Sellwood Community House. We are so grateful for THE BEE’s support, and that of the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance, who chose to include our event in their Decemberville ad!

This advertising benefited our many local vendors, and reached our neighbors far and wide.

Erin Fryer
Administrative Assistant
Sellwood Community House


Verdict: That was a Barred Owl


Very good write-up about the wildlife that continue to live in our midst no matter how we harass them. [January BEE, “From The Editor”.]

I believe the owl pictured is a Barred Owl. Larger than the Spotted, also more intra-species aggressive, more tolerant of humans, and originally southern swamp raptors that don’t need old growth to breed and survive.

They are interfering with Spotted Owls in their habitat, and are considered an invasive species by ODFW.

At one time not long ago the ODFW and the USFWS came up with a plan to shoot a certain number of Barred Owls to see if it helped populations of Spotted Owls.  I don’t know if this was ever carried out.

Still a nice paper.

Stanley Held
S.E. 28th Place


I am an avid 15 year-old birder. I have been birding for five years, spending much of my time in Oaks Bottom. Just today I saw a Barred Owl in the refuge. This was my first for Oaks Bottom but I have seen others in different locations around the city. After telling my neighbors Kathy and Chuck Martin about my sighting they told me about the article describing possible Northern Spotted Owl spotted in Portland. I know that these are extremely rare in the state as a whole, because their more aggressive counterparts, the Barred Owls, are driving them out of the historic range in Oregon's coast range old growth forest. I checked the ID just to be sure, and this turned out to be a definite Barred Owl, as it had vertical demarcations on the breast instead of the horizontal spots on the Spotted. Still exciting especially in plain view as you saw it, but not as rare as the endangered Northern Spotted Owl. I appreciated the article very much . . .

Ezra Cohen
via e-mail


The owl is a Barred Owl, the interloper from the east coast. Love the city as they eat anything. The Spotted Owl is found in old growth as its diet is limited.  

Jackie Wilson
S.E. 51st Avenue


Dog-poop “offensive litterers” among us


I am at my wit’s end with irresponsible dog owners. I live in a residential neighborhood where little colorful bags of doggie poop can be regularly seen thrown into our yards or dropped on the sidewalk.

There is one dog-walker who takes great pains to drop the bags in my trash can, recycle bin, or food debris bin – where, inevitably, the bags burst and I am left with a mess to clean up. This happens even if I HIDE my trash can behind shrubs or weigh it down with a 30 pound stone. I now have to lock all my trash/recyle bins in the garage because this person will even go to the gate of my backyard to drop off their little “gifts”.

I know it’s not “just me” because I see the bags decorating my neighbors’ walkways and landscaping as well. I do not know why someone would take the time to buy the bags, fill the bags – and then drop them for someone else to clean up. It is the height of self-centeredness and lack of community awareness. . .  Come on, dog-owners, do the right thing – clean up after your dog, and take it home with you.

Seth Umbra
S.E. 18th Avenue

EDITOR’S NOTE: Such bags go into the garbage. They are not acceptable in blue recycling bins or green yard/food bins. And they belong in the dog-owner’s garbage! Your editor speaks as a dog owner who picks up his dog’s waste and bags it and takes it home to our own garbage can.


Mistake in THE BEE


I was happily reading an article about my next door neighbor, Pacific Dance Academy until I read that they leased “the former location of Beacon Acupuncture”. The reality is that Beacon Acupuncture is still in our original space next door to Pacific Dance Academy’s new location. Pacific Dance Academy opened in the former location of Three Dots & A Dash. Beacon Acupuncture has been in suite 102 since August, 2017. . .

[In addition to] my acupuncture business, I teach Qi gong and yoga classes at Conniyoga in Sellwood, and [I have an] upcoming retreat in Bend, Oregon, in March 2020. . . In addition to all that I do and teach, I’m happy to be showing the artwork of local artist Ketzia Schoneberg at my clinic this winter. Her work is gorgeous! 

Laura Goff
Beacon Acupuncture
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We deeply regret the error, and are glad you are still there. The mistake was removed in our online versions.


About that Portland Residential Infill Plan


Below is a copy of my submission to the City regarding the Residential Infill Project. This insane plan is now open to comments, which can be submitted on a City web site –

I am opposed to the general thrust of the Residential Infill Project (RIP), which I believe is destructive to existing neighborhoods and does not recognize the value of livability. I have visited China and Russia and have seen the blocks and blocks of ugly apartment buildings. They are dehumanizing. If that is where we are headed, our society as we know it is doomed. Manhattan went through a similar agony in the era of Robert Moses. They were smart enough to stop him from building a freeway through the middle of Manhattan. If you haven't read Jane Jacobs’ classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" you should be in another job. That book was first published in 1961, and things have only gotten worse since then. In Seattle, they have been thinking along the same lines as advocates of the RIP: To resolve traffic congestion they decided to build more freeways. Seattle is now barely navigable, chopped into pieces by spaghetti strings of new freeways, and traffic crawls along more congested than ever.

Please stop talking about residential infill and start looking at the vast stretches of paved parking lots, empty residential tracts, and other poorly used space in the suburbs, particularly in Clackamas County to the south and Washington County to the west. I know those are outside your official jurisdiction, but that does not mean you need to vandalize Portland to satisfy what you perceive as imminent needs. Encourage other jurisdictions to do their part. It is wrong to talk to the existing inner neighborhoods of Portland about destruction of their communities while nothing is being done in the suburbs.

Already the impact of development has been felt throughout the city. Taking advantage of relaxed codes, affordable houses in Eastmoreland have been torn down by developers and replaced by architectural monstrosities that cost twice as much. Apartment buildings thrown up next to single family dwellings throughout the city accomplish little beyond enrichment of a developer's bank account. On Woodstock we await the construction of a full block of new apartments across from the Library. The project provides for half as many parking spaces as the number of rental units. The result will be congestion and reduced livability for that entire neighborhood, not just those who live closest to the project. And nearby, the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood is a prime example of the sudden and rapid growth of extreme congestion resulting from the construction of numerous apartment buildings along S.E. 17th and S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. Long-time neighbors there feel as though they are complaining to the wind. Nobody listens. Removing minimal parking provisions does not get more people to use mass transit. It only results in more traffic. Business suffers, along with neighborly attitudes.

It is time to reconsider the entire destructive building plan for Portland. We do not want to become another Seattle. And building more expensive housing projects is not the answer.

Jim Wygant
via e-mail

Solar power tips


As a Southeast resident employed in the solar power industry, and a BEE reader, I have found homeowners are sometimes unsure about some of the things they need to know. I’d like to take time to address those as a public service.

Oregon's Public Utility Commission decided long ago to apply annual “Net Metering” instead of paying consumers for excess solar power. Your home uses the kWh it needs first, then sends the excess to the grid (your utility provider). In cloudier months, you use extra solar credits from sunnier months. Once a year, the net kWh you haven’t used are donated to people who cannot afford to pay their electric bill.

How many kWh you use annually determines the size of your system in kilowatts. The average residential solar system is 7kW. Using a 320 watt solar panel would require 22 panels (22 x 320 = 7,040), while 400 watt panels require only 18 (18 x 400 = 7,200). The average cost of a 7kW installed system, after applying all incentives, can vary.

Factors that affect the cost include the type of solar panel or inverter (converts to the kWh used in your home), roof material (e.g. Spanish tile is difficult to work on), the roof pitch, multiple building installations, and critter guards (to keep squirrels away from the wires).

Backup batteries also increase project costs, though they qualify for most incentives. Beware of solar loan rates under 4%, because they are often hiding finance fees in the solar costs.

Solar panels have a useful life of 30 plus years, 25-year performance warranties, and a return on their investment of 5 to 12 years, depending on the incentives. They produce electricity approximately 30 percent cheaper than utility electricity over their lifetime – a significant savings achieved with owning your system, versus leasing.

There are three active incentive programs, including Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), the new Oregon HB 2618 rebate and the 26% Federal tax credit. Some incentives are only offered by 4- or 5-star ETO trade allies.

So the next time someone knocks on your door “selling solar”, or an ad pops up on social media, I hope you are now better-prepared to consider solar proposals.

Ruthie Macha Petty
Solar Consultant, Elemental Energy
via e-mail

Knitting project underway for New Year


I want to recognize Knitters and Crocheters of the Inner Eastside Community and beyond, as we begin our annual project for 2020.

The All Saints Episcopal Church “Psalm 139 Prayer Shawl Ministry” would like to thank you all for helping us provide each of our November 23 Saturday Hot Meals Thanksgiving Dinner guests a handmade hat and scarf. Each year our guests look forward to seeing us; we are greeted with some hugs as well as lots of enthusiasm and appreciation. Last November. 104 dinners were served to those in need. 

You help make this project a success and your generosity is very appreciated by both our guests and our ministry.

Bev Curtis
All Saints Episcopal Church

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


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