From the Oct. 19, 1953 edition of the Ontario Argus-Observer
By Don Lynch
The Argus-Observer, along with Oregon’s two other semi-weeklies, is to have a distinguished companion.
The Hillsboro Argus has announced that it will publish semi-weekly beginning the first of November.
As Oregon’s most outstanding weekly newspaper, it will bring prestige to the semi-weekly field. Through the years, semi-weeklies have been considered a sort of hybrid operation, a cross between a weekly and a daily that many publishers have considered impractical. . . .
The Sentinel-Mist at St. Helens was the first of Oregon’s present twice-a-week newspapers. Jessica Longston and Robert Pollock who came to the Eastern Oregon Observer in Ontario from the Sentinel-Mist were apparently well sold on the semi-weekly operation. They soon converted the Observer to semi-weekly and the Argus converted some five months later in order to compete better with the Observer. Actually neither of the papers was large enough to support semi-weekly operation.
During the competing operation the Argus was losing several hundred dollars a month. I just naturally assumed from its larger volume of business that the Observer was making money, but discovered after they were consolidated that it too had been losing money. . . .
Two or three years later the Lebanon Express changed from weekly to semi-weekly publication . . . .
The Hillsboro Argus serves about twice as large a region as we have in Ontario. Although the town is only slightly larger, the rural area is densely populated and the Argus has nearly twice the circulation of the Argus-Observer. . . .
Semi-weekly publishers are almost uniform in their opinion that they make no more profit from two papers than they would from one. I feel sure this is true of Oregon’s semi-weeklies. . . .
It is in the news that the service really is improved. I think that a good semi-weekly often does a better news job and almost as timely as the smallest of the dailies. It is here that the semi-weekly really has its strength.
Ontario is a minimum town for semi-weekly publication. At times we have feared it would not sustain a high enough level of business to maintain the semi-weekly expense. Actually, it if could be weekly for the first three months of the year and semi-weekly for the balance of the year, it would fit the flow of business to support it.
(Editor’s Note: An Internet search suggests the Ontario Argus-Observer may be the only one of these newspapers that survived to become a small, six-day-a-week daily. The Hillsborough Argus web pages, which are combined at the OregonLive.com web site with the Portland Oregonian, suggest that newspaper may have survived as a strange semi-weekly. The Hillsborough paper’s news stories are posted at the Oregon Live site only on Thursday and Friday. As for the other 1950-era semi-weeklies in Oregon, the Lebanon Express has apparently reverted to weekly publication from the issue dates listed on its web site. And the St. Helens Sentinel Mist has no web site, though it is still listed on the web by its address. These outcomes fifty-five years later were no doubt influenced by urbanization patterns and competition from nearby dailies. They show that, in the community newspaper business, as in many other fields, what seems to be true one decade may not be true a decade or two later. – Larry Lynch)