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  • Senior Political Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting, 2016 to present.
  • Political Reporter, The Oregonian, 1984-2015.

About Jeff Mapes

Jeff Mapes covered Oregon politics in print and over the airwaves for more than 30 years. It proved to be the perfect beat for a self-declared “political junkie.” Coming to work at The Oregonian in 1980, Jeff Mapes covered Oregon’s state politics and its congressional delegation. 

During Mapes’ career, he saw Oregon in a period of transition. He saw the move of the state from being primarily a natural resource based economy to one rooted in high tech and tourism. Those changes altered the political landscape as well.

In this wide-ranging interview Mapes offers multiple observations on changes to Oregon’s political parties. He details the rural/urban divide that affected Oregon’s politics. He notes the evolution of the state from being “pretty isolated from the rest of the country” to a “national beacon of cool.”

Mapes’ reporting on Oregon’s state government has changed over his career. At the beginning, physically being in the Capitol Building and in Salem was essential to do his job. Currently, legislative bills and committee hearings are all accessible online.

Mapes considers 1990 a “fulcrum year” in Oregon politics naming the passage of Measure 5. Part of this is due to the listing of the Northern Spotted Owl on the Endangered Species list. He also notes the ascendance of the hyper conservative Oregon Citizens Alliance as a key element in the transformation of Oregon.

Whether as an Oregonian reporter or senior political reporter for OPB, Mapes has sought balance in his coverage. He navigated having good relationships with elected officials, staff, and lobbyists he reports about, and maintaining his journalistic objectivity and integrity.

– Interview recorded July 12, 2019