Changing the Narrative
The Pacific Sentinel’s History

Photos courtesy of the Portland Spectator.

The Pacific Sentinel has had a rather complicated past that has been shrouded from the public under piles of magazines. Most of our readers know us as a magazine that emphasizes the importance of uplifting marginalized and discriminated communities and taking the dialogue further with reported stories and reviews. However, that was not always the case. 

Before our magazine was The Pacific Sentinel, we were The Portland Spectator which was a predominantly conservative magazine. The earliest magazine we can find in Portland State’s archives dates back to February, 2003 which was titled “Why Greed is Good”. Their mission statement reads as followed:

“The purpose of the Portland Spectator is to provide the students, faculty, and staff with the alternative viewpoint to the left-wing mentality forced upon all at Portland State University. The Portland Spectator is concerned with the defense and advancement of the ideals under which our great Republic was founded. Our viewpoint originates from the following principles: Individual Liberty Limited Government Free Market Economy and Free Trade The Rule of Law The Portland Spectator is published by the Portland State University Publication Board; and is staffed solely by volunteer editors and writers. The Portland Spectator is funded through incidental student fees, advertisement revenue, and private donations. Our aim is to show that a conservative philosophy is the proper way to approach issues of common concern. In general the staff of the Portland Spectator share beliefs in the following:

  •  We believe that the academic environment should become again an open forum, where there is a chance for rational and prudent arguments to be heard. The current environment of political correctness, political fundamentalism and mob mentality stifle genuine political debate. 
  • We support high academic standards. -We believe that each student should be judged solely on his/her merits. 
  • We oppose the special or preferential treatment of any one person or group. 
  • We believe in an open, fair and small student government. 
  • We believe that equal treatment yields inequality inherent in our human nature. 
  • We oppose unequal treatment in order to yield equality, for this violates any principle of justice that can maintain a free and civilized society. 
  • We oppose the welfare state that either benefits individuals, groups or corporations. The welfare state in the long run creates more poverty, dependency, social and economic decline. 
  • We believe in Capitalism, and that the sole role of government in economic matters is to provide the institutional arrangements that allow capitalism to flourish. 
  • We do not hate the rich; we do not idolize the poor. 
  • We believe in an activist U.S. foreign policy that seeks to promote and establish freedom, political and economic, all around the world. 
  • We believe, most importantly, in the necessity of patriotic duty consistent with the preservation and advancement of our Republic.”. 

The Spectator published controversial articles titled, “Science Depends on Incorrect Theories”, “House servants in Lebanon: Women in Lebanon have the opportunity to make a living as house servants, but some view this as a form of slavery”, “The political problem of Islam” , “Why this war is necessary: a last chance to stop Saddam Hussein”, and many more. 

As we can see, the topics discussed in this early edition veer far from the Sentinel’s current journalistic goals and morals. We can also see that many of these subject lines would be topical and controversial if read by today’s readers. 

Even so, Portland has been a predominantly liberal city and Portland State today, is 66% “liberal” or “very liberal” and only 4% “conservative” according to a recent poll. These observations and data conflict with the creation of a conservative focused magazine in the heart of downtown’s university. However, looking through Portland State’s history, Portland State University’s student body used to comprise veterans from World War II due to the creation of the G.I. Bill which helped US Veterans get their school, housing, or training covered by the US government. 

What we can deduce from this knowledge is that post-war America surged with nationalism and economic growth. Another important facet is that veterans are more “likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans”. This isn’t to say that all veterans vote conservative, but looking at prior statistics in America, a high percentage of veterans hold conservative and nationalist ideals. 

Knowing that perhaps Portland State’s student body was more conservative leaning in the past, it makes more sense that The Pacific Sentinel ’s parent was catered to conservative ideals.

The Pacific Sentinel ’s debut issue was in January 2016. I decided to take a look at the first ever “letter from the editor” by Alex Skousen:

Photo courtesy of the Portland Spectator.

Looking at this letter from the editor, we can see that The Rearguard and The Portland Spectrum (which were magazines between Spectator and Sentinel) are mentioned as successors to The Pacific Sentinel , but they left out The Portland Spectator. Granted, I don’t blame the prior editors to cease The Portland Spectator from existence since it did not align with the rest of the magazine’s goals and morals. However, I bring this first version of our magazine to light and advocate for its existence not because I believe it was a great magazine, but because it is part of our history and represents growth and a change of narrative. 

Looking at the social and political climate of the world today, it is imperative more than ever to be reminded of the past in order for a lack of repetition. It is interesting to see the many forms our magazine has taken throughout the years at Portland State and see the drastic switch from a nationalist centered magazine to a magazine that celebrates diversity and marginalized voices. It is hopeful to see that the media has the ability to change its narrative to become more inclusive. 

Moving forward, our magazine doesn’t want to shove our past issues under the rug. We wear our past on our sleeve as a reminder that the media is ever evolving and has the capability to change its narrative. All past issues from The Portland Spectator, The Portland Spectrum, The RearGuard, and The Pacific Sentinel can be found on PDX Scholar. 

Published in January 2016, the Pacific Sentinel was created; thus,
establishing a source for diversity, unity, and creation.


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