Major transition starts at regional publication

Steve Forrester

ASTORIA — Steve Forrester has announced his plan to retire as editor and publisher of The Daily Astorian, where the Chinook Observer is printed.

“While I am retiring from this job, I will continue to work as president and CEO of our family’s company, EO Media Group,” Forrester told his managers Monday afternoon.

The company is recruiting for a group publisher to oversee the Astorian and four other EO Media Group publications on the coast. They include the Seaside Signal, Cannon Beach Gazette, Coast River Business Journal and Chinook Observer. The Observer will continue to operate under management of its local publisher, with the new group publisher handling strategic matters for all the company’s coastal publications.

“Although he isn’t very visible to readers on the Washington side, Steve’s devotion to premium-quality journalism is a key reason why the Observer remains so strong,” editor and publisher Matt Winters said. “It’s welcome news that he’ll continue to lead our company.”

John S. Perry, chief operating officer for EO Media Group, said retiring from the Astorian allows Forrester to focus more on the company’s growing business.

“When Steve arrived at the Astorian in 1987, the family owned only two other newspapers: the East Oregonian in Pendleton and the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day. Today, EO Media Group owns and operates 11 newspapers in Oregon and Washington,” Perry said.

EO Media Group also has invested in digital services, including websites, mobile communications and social media. The company publishes books and magazines as well. It employs nearly 200 people in four states.

Forrester, 69, said he will conclude his 28 years at the Astorian at the end of August. He and his wife, Brenda, will continue to live in Astoria.

Forrester is the third member of his family to serve as publisher of the Astorian. His brother Mike was editor there from 1971 to 1973, before moving to the East Oregonian. Their father, J.W. “Bud” Forrester was editor in Astoria from 1973 until 1988.

As editor and publisher, Forrester introduced an array of features to the Astorian and related publications, including Coast Weekend and Our Coast magazine, both co-published with the Chinook Observer. The newspaper produced a number of special series under his leadership, including a yearlong series on climate change, which won one of three awards of merit in the Grantham Awards for environmental journalism in 2007. Another companywide series covered changing patterns in forest land ownership. Both efforts were initiated by Forrester.

In the 1990s, Forrester committed the resources of The Daily Astorian and his extended family to restoration of the Liberty Theater. For about a decade, the Astorian absorbed the administrative costs of the nonprofit Liberty Restoration, Inc.

The most recent innovation Forrester pushed is EO Media Group’s collaboration with the Pamplin Media Group that established a statehouse news bureau and Oregon Capital Insider, a digital newsletter.

“Steve has made an indelible mark on this newspaper and the greater Astoria community,” Perry said. “His community leadership helped restore the Liberty Theater and put Astoria on the map as a vibrant, historic city.”

Astorian Advertising Director Betty Smith said, “My entire career has been in working for family-owned companies, directly with the owners. I spent 20 years working for Nordstrom and watching their transfer from the fathers to the sons. I came to the beach and joined another family owned business with a legacy. I’m confident that this next transition will be a success.”

Forrester is one of three principal owners of EO Media Group. Others are his brother, Mike, and a cousin, Kathryn Brown, who is publisher of the East Oregonian.

“We know that a hallmark of healthy family-owned businesses is that they plan ahead for the retirements of key family members,” Brown said. “Our family began actively planning for success more than 20 years ago, and has managed smooth transitions as Steve’s parents, my grandmother and my mother retired over the years. I’m confident that we will manage well through this transition.”

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