I hear ya and the expense side

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



So I’m hanging out at my favorite sandwich joint — Sunrise Bagels — when I hear this:

“You seem to be branching out with your column. That’s good.”

Now I’m not naming the person because lots of folks just don’t like being caught saying something nice. There’s a general tendency to slap folks upside the head rather than to say nice things.

Not that I — or this column — don’t deserve it sometimes.

I thanked the gentleman and agreed that on occasion I branch out from just writing about the media. On occasion I stick my toes into the turbulent waters of other stuff. And that’s when my head gets slapped quite a bit.

“That’s good,” my newfound friend pointed out. “They’re reading you.”

I agreed.

I think it’s also important to understand the dynamic that’s at play when you hear from folks who get all negative on you.

If you say something or write something someone agrees with, there is little incentive for someone to make the effort to tell you so. Why? Because you’ve represented their views.

However, if you’re saying something or writing something someone disagrees with, there is great incentive for someone to let you know. Why? Because their views weren’t represented.

And in today’s world — more so than any other time — those negative vibes are everywhere.

The truth is, I appreciate hearing from folks who disagree with me. I learn a bunch when people oppose my views.

So keep ’em coming. But thanks, my newfound friend, for the kind words. It’s nice to hear positive comments every once in awhile.

• • •

Speaking of writing about the media, I was looking at the Seattle Times a few days ago and was a bit surprised by its size. It had three sections and a total of 26 pages.

On the same day — a Tuesday — The Columbian had five sections and 30 pages.

Now, the Seattle area is like a gazillion times bigger than the Vancouver area, so for us to be bigger than them is just crazy.

Believe me I say this not to brag. I say this because The Columbian is lagging behind many other newspapers in making our expenses meet our revenues.

Even when you look at The Oregonian, you see there are days when they combine several sections into one.

Truth is, we’re also looking at combining some sections as we try to and cut down on expenses.

Revenues simply have not kept up with expenses in the newspaper industry. As eyeballs began to switch from newspapers to newspaper websites, the advertising dollars have not made a similar switch.

Our hope, of course, is that advertisers will begin to see the business sense in getting on our website. But as they do so, newspapers like the Seattle Times and The Oregonian — and The Columbian — have to tighten down on the expense side.

We’re all doing this today, both in our business and personal lives. Let’s hope it settles down soon.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.

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