Press Talk: Changes at The Columbian

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 

When Editorial Page Editor John Laird strolled out The Columbian's door Friday, it did — indeed — bring to mind the obvious.

All good things must come to an end.

He has written his heart out here for more than a decade, and Southwest Washington is much better off because of it. He showed up on our doorstep from Texas. We were in need of a new editorial page editor and did a national search.

We landed on John. All these years later, we couldn't have been happier.

John will tell you he has fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest and sometimes wishes he had discovered it earlier.

The community respected his opinion, even if it didn't agree with it all the time. Yes, he had his critics. Anyone who toils in this business has critics. And those critics were listened to. But in the end — regardless of those in favor or those against — John penned his thoughts honestly.

I still don't think everyone in the public understands editorials or opinion pieces. Although John wrote virtually all of our editorials, those unsigned editorials — or opinion pieces — were not necessarily John's opinions. They were the editorial board's opinions. And John was only one-fifth of the editorial board.

So, yes, John sometimes wrote editorials he didn't agree with.

By the way, I should also tell you editorials are not necessarily my opinion, either. I've personally disagreed with more than a few editorials.

We couldn't have asked any more of John and wish him the best in retirement. He is a class act!

• • •

John's departure set in motion a number of changes in The Columbian's newsroom. Here is what has happened so far:

• Sports Editor Greg Jayne is the new editorial page editor. Greg has been John's backup for several years now, filling in when John was away. During the short stints filling in, Greg has won a number of editorial writing awards.

Greg was a talented sports columnist as well, and has won several awards on that side of the business.

He graduated from Northwestern University and has spent 25 years in the news business.

"I'm hoping to continue The Columbian's strong tradition of thoughtful, insightful debate," Greg said.

• News Editor Micah Rice is the new sports editor. Way back in the day, Micah was our high school sports coordinator. He took a couple of years off from The Columbian and returned as a copy editor, then was promoted about five years ago to news editor.

"We're redoubling our efforts to get more sports stories on the Web and have them up sooner. We're changing the appearance of the section to make better use of colors and photos," Micah said.

• Assistant News Editor Merridee Hanson becomes news editor. She's a Colorado native who has been with The Columbian for 10 years now.

The news editor runs the copy desk, which basically is the last line of defense on errors. Copy desk staffers write the headlines, design the newspaper's pages and feed content to our website.

"I hope to continue to facilitate … excellence in our print product, and at the same time help to enhance Columbian.com with an accelerated level of diversity in content," Merridee said.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.