Press Talk: We scored several awards!

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

The world knows newspapers are struggling financially because — wait for it — newspapers have thoroughly reported it.

We’ve reported how the internet has hurt us. It has so spread out advertising dollars that the old newspaper model of using advertising profits to pay a boatload of journalists to serve you is crumbling.

There are some in our industry — not in the newsroom — who believe we would be better served if we lightened up a bit on ourselves. Not spread the word. Bad PR and all.

But that’s not what good newsrooms do. When we see an issue, we don’t lighten up. We spread the word. Friends and family — and us — don’t get a pass.

Yes, the Fourth Estate is news, and we cover it … good and bad.

Hey, look at us!

But there are also those occasions when we try to get the word out that — hey — we’re doing pretty well.

The other day, I noted the role I felt The Columbian plays in holding politicians accountable. I do this on and off.

We’ve covered the shenanigans County Councilors David Madore and Tom Mielke are up to, the passage of the county charter, and the outrageous proposed 117 percent raise for the mayor of Vancouver.

An informed community acts to do the right thing, and our role in that is to inform the community.

On occasion, I’ll get pushback for speaking proudly about our staff. I’m guessing it’s because some feel it’s bragging.

OK, I’m guilty of being proud of our staff and all the great work we do. I’m also proud of my Press Talk column. And I’ll accept that criticism because it’s more important now than ever to let readers know what a critical role we play.

Stories just don’t magically appear. Reporters have to work hard to get them. Stories are not just magically written, edited and placed on a page.

Videos and photographs just don’t show up.

And I’m happy to say again, I’m proud of what we do.

Awards

Warning: More bragging is about to take place.

A few weeks ago, the Society of Professional Journalists handed out awards for great work done. And — guess what — we did very well!

We competed in a five-state region, and this year, they moved us up in newspaper size to compete in the “Very Large” category.

I’ll admit that seemed pretty weird to me. Very large? But there we were, competing against the big dogs like The Seattle Times and The Oregonian. Those two newspaper alone have won more than 15 Pulitzer Prizes in their history.

Regardless, it was an opportunity to see how we’d do against the best of the best.

Wow! We really showed well:

Eleven awards in total and four first-place finishes.

Yeah, I’m bragging.

Susan Abe won first place for print headlines. Headlines are the window into a story. A bad headline can kill the best of stories. A great one will draw you in.

Ariane Kunze won first place for online feature video. The newspaper industry is hopeful that great videos will draw you to our website. And Kunze is a great videographer.

Patty Hastings won first place for social issues reporting. You’d be wrong if you thought all we did was report on politicians with their hands in the cookie jar. Reporting on social issues is critically important, and Hastings knocked it out of the park here. 

Lou Brancaccio won first place for columns. OK, I’m not really a columnist. I’m an editor who happens to write a column. But I take column-writing seriously, and I’m enormously proud of being recognized and just being in the same conversation with some great columnists, including those at The Seattle Times and The Oregonian.

Staff won third place for general excellence. I’m equally proud of our third place in general excellence, considering we were going up against some newspapers two, three, four or even five times bigger than us. And everyone in the newsroom gets a piece of it, as well.

So the next time you see a journalist, give ’em a hug. OK, maybe a hello would do. And thanks so much for sticking with us.