Press Talk: Changes coming for us

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



OK, everybody who hasn’t had to tighten their belt a little because of this dang, stubborn, ugly economy, raise your hand.

Exactly. Things may be loosening up — a bit — but happy days are not here again. Not yet. The newspaper business is no different. In fact, we’re really a pretty accurate depiction of what’s going on out there. Why?

Well, as the economy loosens up, folks begin to spend a little more. As folks begin to spend a little more, businesses advertise a little more to try to catch those spenders. And as businesses advertise a little more, it helps newspapers, because we’re still the big dog when it comes to getting your message out. Especially local businesses.

November and December were pretty good advertising months for us, but then they usually are. It will be the next three months that will give us a better indication about how the economy is doing.

Regardless, like all businesses, our expenses need to meet our revenues. There’s no business (some of our friends in government don’t have to follow this rule) that can survive otherwise. And when you’re faced with competition (again, this doesn’t apply to the government) you have to make smart decisions to keep your customers, employees and other stakeholders stable.

So, we’ll be making some changes later in January in order to make sure our expenses and revenues keep in line with each other.

Frankly, you’ve likely seen some of these changes at other newspapers already. Let me go over a few of them:

• The width of The Columbian will be a little narrower. If you place The Oregonian over the top of The Columbian, you’ll see the difference. The Oregonian is smaller. It’s not much, but when you add up the paper cost savings, it’s a decent amount.

• We will be going from a five-section newspaper to a four-section newspaper. The biggest change you’ll see here is that the business section will be inside the Clark County section. Our business reporting team remains the same. And again, you’ll see business news included in other sections on some days in The Oregonian, as well.

I should add that we are making a conscious effort to not reduce the number of news pages in The Columbian. So, that means you shouldn’t see a big difference in the number of stories.

• The Opinion page is moving to the A section. This is mostly a cosmetic change that has to happen because of the move of business into the Clark County section.

• Our daily TV grid will get a little smaller. If you receive any of the specialty channels, you either have cable or a satellite dish. And both cable and satellite companies provide on-screen TV grids.

• Sometime after you see these changes above, there will also be a change in the Sunday TV book. The book, now produced by us, will be produced by a private company that will offer it — at a cost — to those who still use a TV book.

Again, The Oregonian has already done this.

With the changes, it also should be noted that we have added some reporting positions back to the newsroom. This should result in more stories — stories that will help the community navigate the turbulent waters that still exist here in Southwest Washington.

We’ll still hold the government agencies accountable as they spend our tax dollars.

We’ll still keep you informed and entertained as we continue to be the leading information source in our area.

And we’ll still improve, the most-viewed local website in our area.

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

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