1160 SW 4th Street
Ontario OR 97914
The Argus Observer is a direct descendent of a publication called “The Advocate,” originally established Jan. 6, 1897, in Malheur County’s county seat, Vale, Oregon. Partisan in nature, The Advocate supported William Jennings Bryan for president and was owned by E.R. Murray and then W. E. Lees.
Twice in its early history, The Advocate attempted a daily publication. The first attempt took place in 1898 and the second in 1904. Between these attempts, The Advocate was moved from Vale to Ontario in 1899. The name of the paper changed to The Ontario Advocate.
In 1936, Elmo Smith, who would go on to become Oregon’s governor, established The Eastern Oregon Observer. The publication was founded as a shopper but later became a full-fledged newspaper. Eventually Robert E. Pollock and Jessica Longston owned the paper. The Eastern Oregon Observer operated for 11 years before being consolidated with the Ontario Argus.
Bernard Mainwaring and Don Lynch then owned the Ontario Argus. Both publications were printing twice weekly. The subscription lists for both papers were consolidated, and the name of the publication was changed to the Ontario Argus Observer, which ultimately became the Daily Argus Observer and today is known simply as The Argus Observer.
A key turning point in the history of the newspaper occurred in 1968 when Wick Communications bought the Argus Observer. The corporation still owns the paper.
The first Wick publisher of the newspaper was Fran McLean, who managed the publication for more than 30 years. McLean’s successor, Steve Krehl took over in 1998 and retired in 2009. Krehl still serves on the paper as publisher emeritus. In 2009, John Dillon, a Treasure Valley native, was named publisher to replace Krehl.
The Argus Observer currently has just more than 35 employees. The newspaper reaches a market in Eastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho consisting of residents living in Malheur County, Oregon and Payette, Adams and Washington counties in Idaho.
The newspaper publishes Tuesday through Friday and distributes a Sunday edition throughout a three-county region in Oregon and Idaho.
Named after mythical creatures from Greek legend — the all-seeing Argus with 100 eyes — the Argus Observer newspaper has remained a viable part of the Malheur and Payette county community for more than a century.