Press Talk: News from the inside

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



News from around the newsroom:

Break it down

Hey, watch for Columbian reporter Stevie Mathieu’s story Sunday on some enlightening breakdowns of how the county voted in certain races and issues.

What Stevie did was look at precinct-by-precinct voting patterns. For me it was quite fascinating to look at these breakouts.

If you go to our website you’ll also be able to click on individual precincts to see vote totals in the race we are examining. Web Editor John Hill — and many others — worked very hard on this.

Our All Politics is Local blog teased our Sunday story by taking a quick look at Vancouver’s proposal for a new tax that would have provided dedicated funding for parks and recreation.

On Election Day we reported the measure had lost pretty badly. But, as reporter Stephanie Rice noted on our blog, it lost in every precinct that was eligible to vote on it. In one precinct — Stephanie noted — only 22 percent voted in favor of it. Please pick up the Sunday Columbian for a good read on it. Then head over to our website for some additional details.

Getting down with the mavens

Speaking of the All Politics is Local blog, it received a prestigious award — for the second time I might add — from Editor & Publisher, a newspaper industry publication. It received an Honorable Mention for Best News or Political Blog under 1 million unique monthly visitors.

Three great reporters — Stephanie, Marissa Harshman, and Andrea Damewood — did the heavy lifting for this honor. (Andrea now is doing great work for Willamette Week.)

The self-described meeting mavens have a little fun, a little edge and a little attitude as they liven up the area’s political backwaters. They share sharp observations and amusing anecdotes.

I couldn’t stop smiling after a recent blog post headlined Deck The (City) Hall. It’s filled with observations and photos. Check it out on

Downright necessary

I needed to reboot my brain so I reread the book “Crucial Confrontations.” I’ve met one of its authors, Ron McMillan.

If I were to suggest a follow-up book to Ron it would be:

Reboot your Brain. Why It’s Important to Revisit What You Do.

A few highlights because — who knows — it could help others as well:

• The first 30 seconds of a conversation are critical. It sets the tone for everything. Even better, set the tone before the conversation begins. That means don’t take any baggage or preconceived views into the conversation.

• Make sure those you are talking with feel safe and comfortable.

• Don’t overreact.

• The answer to any previous bad experiences is not to withdraw but rather to figure out why it went bad and correct it.

• Work on yourself first.

• Admit to your shortcomings then put a plan in place to correct it. Then put a plan in place to gauge how you’ve done.

The book notes the word confrontations can sound abrasive. But when a confrontation is handled well, both parties talk openly and honestly. Both are respectful. And as a result you get a problem resolved and the relationship benefits.

I suspect we sometimes get too focused on the goal and don’t pay enough attention to the paths we take to get there.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, or Twitter:

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