The Mail Tribune was the first Oregon newspaper to win a Pulitzer Prize, awarded for meritorious public service after Editor Robert Ruhl stood up to a gang of unscrupulous politicians in 1934.
The Mail Tribune traces its roots back to 1906, when the Medford Mail published in the mornings and the Medford Tribune published in the afternoon. The two papers merged on Nov. 1, 1909, under Editor George Putnam, creating the “largest printing and publishing establishment in Southern Oregon.”
The new Medford Mail Tribune came out Monday through Friday evenings with a Sunday morning edition. Putnam was a crusader for truth and printed what he believed, no matter how dangerous it might be. “A newspaper without enemies has no friends,” was his motto.
In 1919 he sold the paper to Robert Ruhl, who served as editor and publisher for more than 30 years. He spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. In the 1930s he took on the nefarious leaders of the Good Government Congress, an anti-establishment movement that brought tumult, violence and election fraud to Jackson County during a time later coined the “Jackson County Rebellion.” His editorials condemning the movement and calling for rational behavior from citizens led to the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1969, the Mail Tribune launched its weekly arts and entertainment section — Tempo — becoming one of the first newspapers in Oregon to do so.
Ruhl’s wife, Mabel, sold the paper in 1973 to Ottaway Newspapers, a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper’s printing method changed from hot metal to cold type and offset. Publication of color photos became first feasible and then commonplace. A Saturday edition was added in 1989, the same day the “Medford” part of the Medford Mail Tribune was dropped. In 1995, the paper changed to its present schedule — a morning edition seven days a week.
Also during the 1990s, construction was completed on the two new downtown buildings that house the Mail Tribune today. First came new offices for news, advertising and production departments in August 1993, followed by the printing and distribution center on the site of the old newspaper offices in 1996. Ottaway purchased the Ashland Daily Tidings and The Nickel in October 2002.
In December 2007, Dow Jones was sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. On Sept. 4, 2013, Newcastle Investment Corp., an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, purchased Southern Oregon Media Group and later spun off the publicly traded New Media Investment Group.
The Mail Tribune, Ashland Daily Tidings and The Nickel were managed by GateHouse Media until the publications were sold to Rosebud Media LLC in 2017.