Portland Mercury

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from The Portland Mercury)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Portland Mercury
Portland Mercury cover.jpg
TypeAlternative bi-weekly
Owner(s)Index Publishing
PublisherRob Thompson
EditorWm. Steven Humphrey
FoundedJune 2000
Headquarters115 SW Ash St., Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204
Circulation45,000 (as of June 2014)[1]

Portland Mercury is an alternative bi-weekly newspaper and media company founded in 2000 in Portland, Oregon. It has a sibling publication in Seattle, Washington, called The Stranger.[2]

Contributors and staff[edit]

Editor-in-chief: Wm. Steven Humphrey
News editor: Alex Zielinski
Arts and culture editor: Blair Stenvick
News reporter: Isabella Garcia
Publisher: Rob Thompson

Current list retrieved on July 27, 2021.[3]


The current Portland Mercury launched in June 2000.[4] The paper describes their readership as "affluent urbanites in their 20s and 30s."[5] Its long-running rivalry with Willamette Week began before its first issue was even printed when Willamette Week publisher Richard Meeker asked a Portland law firm to pay $10 to register the Mercury name with Oregon's Corporation Division, thus preventing it from being used for 120 days.[6]

Portland Mercury has hosted or co-hosted events over the years including political events like Brewhaha and Hecklevision, a film series that encourages audience members to use a texting system to write jokes and commentary that appear on the screen.[7][8] At one point, the newspaper's revenue was almost entirely dependent on advertising and sales of tickets for events and concerts with nearly 95% of its revenue coming from advertisements.[9][10]

Former managing editor Phil Busse's controversial tenure included charges of plagiarism, a favorable review for a restaurant that hadn't yet opened, a bid for mayor, and a cover featuring him wearing women's underwear, dollops of whipped cream, and a hard hat.[11] Shrill, a television series based on Seattle-based writer Lindy West’s memoir and essay collection of the same name, is inspired by The Stranger and Portland Mercury and stars actress Aidy Bryant.[12]

Portland Mercury's print edition was published weekly until fall 2018[13] when it changed to bi-weekly beginning with the issue released on September 13, 2018.[14] Its name as displayed on the nameplate was shortened to just Mercury as well.[13][15]

On March 14, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the paper temporarily suspended print publication and switched to online only.[16] In addition, it laid off 10 employees, which comprised half of the publication's staff.[17][18]

The original Mercury[edit]

A weekly newspaper called The Mercury and later The Sunday Mercury was founded in Salem in 1869,[19] and moved to Portland a few years later.[20] Oregon writer Homer Davenport described approaching the Mercury when he arrived in Portland as a young man, and being sent to New Orleans to cover and draw pictures of the Fitzsimmons-Dempsey fight.[21]

The Mercury was best known for being the subject of a major libel lawsuit involving attorney and writer C.E.S. Wood. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled against O. P. Mason and B. P. Watson, and the newspaper itself was turned over to receiver A. A. Rosenthal. Rosenthal promised to "make a decent paper of it," but the paper was raided by the Portland district attorney's office later that year and suppressed for publishing offensive material. An 1939 article published in The Oregonian praised the plaintiffs for having "abolished a publication insidiously demoralizing as well as unspeakably offensive."[22]

The Sunday Mercury continued into the 20th century, described as a legitimate enterprise, with C. H. Clute[23] and William J. Swope serving as publisher.[24]


  1. ^ "The Portland Mercury". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Meza, Claudia (March 17, 2020). "How Alternative Weeklies Are Weathering The Pandemic". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2020-04-27. the Mercury and its Seattle sister paper, The Stranger
  3. ^ "Masthead". Portland Mercury. July 27, 2021. Archived from the original on 2020-10-12. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  4. ^ Humphrey, Wm. Steven (June 1, 2000). "The Triumphant Return of The Mercury". Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on November 15, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Ad-info". Mercury readers are affluent urbanites in their 20s and 30s with impressive disposable incomes and an appetite for everything the city has to offer.
  6. ^ Brenneman, Kristina (April 9, 2000). "No welcome mat for this Stranger". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "Northwest Portland roundup: Mercury's Brewhaha, Ground Kontrol re-opening party and those cotton ball-size snowflakes". February 16, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Bingham, Larry (May 16, 2012). "Keanu Reeves's 'Point Break' subject of Northeast Portland 'Hecklevision' series". Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  9. ^ Meza, Claudia (March 17, 2020). "How Alternative Weeklies Are Weathering The Pandemic". www.opb.org. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  10. ^ Mesh, Aaron (March 14, 2020). "Portland Mercury Halts Print Editions Amid Coronavirus Shutdowns". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  11. ^ Butler, Grant (April 3, 2009). "White Bird hires controversial Phil Busse as general manager". Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  12. ^ "Portland-filmed 'Shrill' renewed for Season 3 on Hulu". March 31, 2018. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Gormley, Shannon (May 24, 2018). "Starting This Fall, The Portland Mercury Will Publish a Paper Every Other Week". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on April 15, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  14. ^ Humphrey, Wm. Steven (September 12, 2018). "Good Morning, News: Merkley Spills the Tea, GOP in Serious November Trouble, and the New Biweekly Mercury". Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on January 24, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "Portland Mercury, News, Entertainment, Trouble". September 13, 2018. Archived from the original on September 13, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "The Mercury Is Temporarily Switching to Online Only". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  17. ^ Davis, Rob (2020-03-14). "Portland Mercury temporarily cuts 10 staff, will publish online only". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-04-26.
  18. ^ "Coronavirus woes causing cutbacks at Portland Mercury". Portland Tribune. March 14, 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  19. ^ Turnbull, George Stanley (1939). "Journalism in Salem" . History of Oregon Newspapers . Binfords and Mort.
  20. ^ Ludington, Flora Belle (1927). "The Newspapers of Oregon, 1846-1870" . Oregon Historical Quarterly. 26.
  21. ^ wikisource:en:The Country Boy/Chapter 5
  22. ^ Turnbull, George Stanley (1939). "Libel and Violence Bear Fruit" . History of Oregon Newspapers . Binfords and Mort.
  23. ^ Gaston, Joseph. Portland, Oregon: Its History and Builders . Vol. 1.
  24. ^ "Portland Sunday Mercury". The Oregon Daily Journal. 4 April 1913. p. 2.

External links[edit]