Saturday, January 26, 2019

I get my local news from the Bulletin.

So I get my local news from the Bulletin.

Which for some reason didn't report that they've recently entered into bankruptcy proceedings. (This is apparently the second time.) They owe a bunch in taxes, apparently.

UPDATE: Apparently, they did report this and I missed it.

I'm in no mood to pile on. I've always liked the Bulletin, if not their editorial slant. I was not aware of their financial difficulties except in seeing their Incredibly Shrinking Paper. But I attributed that to the woes that all paper publications are having.

I will say this: I suspect the root of their problems--besides what is affecting everyone--is that White Elephant of a building, their castle on the hill, that they built in 2000.

So here's the thing. The Bulletin has always been a booster. It makes sense that they would be. But even if you're a booster, you need to know the underlying reality. In the early 2000's all you heard was boosterism, from businesses, to media, to real estate people.

But having grown up in Bend, and seeing no real new industry arriving in town besides retirement and tourism (which create large numbers of minimum wage jobs) and seeing rents and housing prices steadily increasing--well, it just didn't feel right.

I've often brought up the notion that at my store, Pegasus Books, I'd gone through a bunch of booms--sports cards, comics, Magic, pogs, Beanie Babies, Pokemon, etc. I'd learned my lessons about bubbles the hard way. It may seem strange to equate pogs to houses, but the dynamics of all bubbles are amazingly similar.

So when real estate prices took off--and with it the rapid development of subdivisions and the massive influx of chain stories and restaurants and fancy businesses--it seemed very clear that it was a bubble and wouldn't end well.

But almost no one was seeing it that way. That's about the time I discovered a couple of other people online who were talking about a "bubble" and I joined in. We called them "Bubble Blogs."

But the boosters in town continued to believe the party would go on forever. "Bend is different" is was what I heard over and over again.

Expansion is always a risk, and you can't fool yourself into believing that just because you've been successful at one level you'll automatically be successful at a higher level. It's like the Peter Principle: You'll expand to your level of incompetence. I'm not trying to pile on the Bulletin here--It happens to ALL of us, at some point. The salient point about bubbles is--you don't know it's a bubble because you're inside the bubble.

Then the Bulletin ran into the buzzsaw of the Internet, which is like a double whammy. That's the thing about "whammys." They rarely arrive alone.

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