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Oregon Capitol News goes bust 

Another casualty of the troubled journalism industry announced defeat today

Another casualty of the troubled journalism industry announced defeat today. Oregon Capitol News, an online news site devoted to political and investigative reporting in Salem, said today that it will shut down immediately, according to a news release.

 “We just ultimately decided that the business model was infeasible,” said John Charles, President and CEO of the organization that sponsors the website, by phone earlier today.

Oregon Capital News began in late 2009 under the name Oregon Politico as an independent and unbiased news offshoot of Cascade Policy Institute, an Oregon-based libertarian think tank. Along with reporting, the venture also developed a large database of government documents called GovDocs for the public. Both projects were funded by outside donors who hoped to pull back support as the website became self-sufficient, said Charles.

The name of the website was changed in mid-2010 after a legal challenge by Politico.com.

After campaigns to earn grants and cash from other funding sources were fruitless, it became clear last fall that Cascade Policy Institute would soon have to take on the financial responsibility for the project, jeopardizing the credibility of the news outlet and siphoning funds from the think tank’s primary mission, according to the news release.

“We decided, don’t wait for the wolf to be at the door,” said Charles, “take command of the situation.”

The site may be reincarnated if an outside funder can be found to take it over, but all three primary employees of the site are moving on, said Charles, making it difficult to reinvigorate the project quickly.

GovDocs will remain a viable resource, however, and will be periodically updated by Cascade Policy Institute, he said.

“I am proud of what we did and it was with some sadness that I sent that email this morning,” said Charles.


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