following historical information was taken from the first installment
of a series of articles about the founding and history of the present-day
Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. The series began running
in the August 1957 issue of the Oregon Publisher to commemorate
the association's 70th anniversary. The articles were written by
George S. Turnbull, author of "History of Oregon Newspapers"
and former dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at
the University of Oregon in Eugene.
"Over on Yaquina Bay, in Lincoln County, is a tiny hamlet
that once had its dreams of future greatness. In its good days it
was known as Yaquina City, and its founders and promoters were sure
it was to be the terminus of a transcontinental railroad; it borders
the present city of Newport, which has became (sic) a substantial
and growing community.
"The dream faded. Looking now at the few buildings on
the old site of Yaquina City, you wouldn't believe that at one time
the little town had two competing newspapers, one of which ran a
daily as well as a weekly issue for a short time.
"Here it was that the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association,
under another name, had its inception. Attracted, no doubt, by the
superlative recreational facilities of Yaquina Bay and the nearby
Nye Beach on the ocean, Oregon's editors and publishers selected
the ambitious little 'city' as the place where they would organize
the Oregon Press Association. This later (1909) was to become the
Oregon State Editorial Association, and finally (1936) the Oregon
Newspaper Publishers Association.
group formed at Yaquina City was not Oregon's first organization
of newspaper editors and publishers. A previous association was
formed at Salem in October 1878 for a specific purpose, to promote
the passage of an effective libel law by the legislature, in session
at the time. In this aim it was successful.
"As explained in the published history of Oregon newspapers,
it took a bit of manslaughter to prepare the way for the libel law.
Verbal strife among this state's newspapers, waged in the so-called
'Oregon style' of personal abuse, had just culminated in the killing
of A.C. McDonald, one of the publishers of the Portland Telegram,
by the assistant editor of the Portland Bee in a street fight. The
fatal brawl followed personal abuse of the Telegram man's family
in the columns of the rival paper. The slayer, J.K. Mercer, was
convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in the penitentiary.
"Realizing that this sort of thing had gone much too far
and called for preventive action, ten Oregon newspapers and one
in Washington Territory (the New Tacoma Herald) signed a call for
formation of a newspaper association to press for passage of a criminal
libel law. Presiding over the sessions of the new association, which
lasted for two weeks, was Mart V. Brown of Albany, retiring state
printer. Besides President Brown, promoters J.H. Turner of the East
Oregonian, Pendleton, and W.H. Odell, Oregon Statesman, corresponding
secretary, were chosen trustees.
"... When the new State Press Association adjourned after
giving the new libel law its start, it was voted to meet again in
Portland in June 1879. That meeting, apparently, never took place.
The new association was unfortunate in some of its personnel; both
Mr. Brown, the retiring state printer, and Anthony Noltner of the
Portland Standard, prominent in the group, were under fire in connection
with allegedly excessive charges for printing done for the state,
and their fellow editors found their enthusiasm for the meeting
fatally chilled. So far as this writer knows, no further meeting
of the old association was held, and no new start was made until
1887. Under different names but with no lapse of continuity, the
organization that was started at Yaquina City has continued to this
"A total of 18 editors, publishers, and other newspaper
workers assembled in the ambitious little Yaquina Bay town August
12, 1887, to organize the statewide group."
The first person to serve as president of the Oregon Press Association
was Martin L. Pipes, representative of the Benton Leader of Corvallis.
In May 1928, Harris Ellsworth, advertising manager of the Four-L
Lumber News, Portland, became the association's first field manager.
In this position, Ellsworth spent part of his time managing the
association and the other part teaching in the School of Journalism
and Communication at the University of Oregon.
The office headquarters of ONPA, up until 1971, were at the University
of Oregon. During the summer of that year, ONPA moved its office
to downtown Portland. From there, ONPA moved to the Commerce Plaza
office complex, off Hampton Street in Tigard, where it remains today.