Saturday, November 27, 2021
Nov. 27, 2021

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Community celebrates 125 years of newspapering

Hundreds visit The Columbian's offices to help commemorate a milestone

By , Columbian Small Cities Reporter
Published:
4 Photos
Charlie Elmlinger, right, mans the press as visitors stream past on a tour of The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver on Saturday . The event was held in advance of the Columbian newspaper's 125th anniversary, coming up in October.
Charlie Elmlinger, right, mans the press as visitors stream past on a tour of The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver on Saturday . The event was held in advance of the Columbian newspaper's 125th anniversary, coming up in October. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Hundreds of readers came to The Columbian offices Saturday to celebrate a special milestone in the paper’s long and storied history: its 125th year in business.

Outside, children had their faces painted and took pictures with old Columbian mascot Columbo the weather dog. Inside, about 120 people caught an up-close glimpse of how the paper is actually made, touring the packaging room and seeing the 47-year-old printing press in action.

For many, it was an opportunity to meet some of the reporters, editors and others who put in long hours putting together a paper for each day of the week. And for some, like old Columbian employee Netha Lefevre, it was a chance to take a walk down memory lane.

Lefevre, a lifelong reader of the paper, briefly worked at The Columbian in the mid-1970s, cleaning the office at night while spending her days in class at Clark College. The visit brought back fond memories of chats with photographers and press workers laboring away to get everything done on a tight deadline.

“I’m very proud,” she said. “It’s a newspaper that’s sustained 125 years of community involvement. I think that’s really exciting.”

The paper’s true anniversary is Oct. 10. On that day in 1890, local printer Tom Carolan published the first issue of what was then the Vancouver Columbian, a weekly paper with a Democratic bent designed to counter the local Republican paper of the time.

Since 1921, The Columbian has been under the hometown ownership of the Campbell family, a fact that many seem to appreciate to this day, Publisher Scott Campbell said.

Today, the now editorially independent paper faces its most profound challenge yet: making the transition to a fast-paced digital era as print ad revenue continues to dwindle. It’s a phenomenon that has provoked an ever continuing evolution of the product, Campbell said.

“It’s a lot of development on the digital side, and the problem with the digital side is there’s not quite the business model underpinnings to make that pay a lot of the bills,” he said. “But I think print’s going to continue to be a part of that, even 20 years out.”

Campbell said he enjoyed hearing the community’s questions about the business Saturday. In the future, he would like to find more opportunities to open the building for tours.

“I think we’ve been maybe a little too busy running the business, and a little maybe short on doing this kind of thing more often,” Campbell said. “We’re real pleased with how that event worked out, but we don’t want to wait 25 more years to do this again.”

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