Veteran newspaper editor, Salem business leader team up on new media outlet.

Les Zaitz

The city of Salem is getting another news outlet.

Share this article!

Les Zaitz, editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise, and Larry Tokarski, president of Mountain West, have announced the launch of a new online media outlet. The Salem Reporter will focus exclusively on the Salem area with a mix of investigative reports, coverage of local government and business.

The service will be available only online through a $10 monthly or a  $100 yearly subscription. It will launch on September 17 at

Related: Former O investigative reporter aims to supercharge small town journalism

In an interview with Oregon Business last year, Zaitz, a former investigative reporter at the Oregonian, said his goal was to figure out “how we on a small scale can produce a new financial paradigm for the newspaper that can be replicated and scaled up.”

The Salem Reporter marks another step on that journey.  It is the third community paper under Zaitz family ownership, along with the Keizertimes and the Malheur Enterprise.

Zaitz ticked off a few reasons why expected the Salem outfit, which is co-owned by Tokarski, to achieve profitability.

“We don’t have heavy overhead or legacy costs,” he said in an email.  “Virtually every dime we spend will be spent on gathering news. In today’s climate, readers hunger for credible news about the communities in which they live. The challenge is to make coverage so compelling, that it so squarely meets those needs, that people will pay a modest monthly price to get it.”

Tokarski approached him with the idea, said Zaitz, who will continue to run the Malheur Enterprise.  He declined to disclose internal finances.

The Salem Reporter announcement comes one week after the Oregonian noted the imminent departure of editor Mark Katches. Katches is taking a job as executive editor of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Oregonian is owned by  Advance Publications. In what appeared to be a veiled comment about his former employer, Zaitz said, in a statement: “We will be relentless in pursuit of the truth, asking hard questions no matter the challenge.  We will do so, keeping in mind every single hour that we are here to serve the people of the Salem area – not our egos, and not any corporate master.”

The Salem Reporter will compete with the Salem Statesman-Journal, as well as other outlets that cover state government (Oregon Business included).

In addition to Zaitz, the Salem Reporter will include a reporting staff of three.


To subscribe to Oregon Business click here.