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Micah Rice: Strengthening devotion to local sports in 2017

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: December 31, 2016, 8:05pm

The new year is a time for resolutions.

We have a few New Year’s resolutions in The Columbian sports department. After all, it’s good to occasionally take stock and refocus.

But we couldn’t chart our path for 2017 without looking back at 2016.

This past year, we took big strides toward becoming a more locally focused sports department.

That was both by design and necessity. When the company laid off two full-time staffers last summer, including our Portland Trail Blazers beat writer, it made us refocus our resources toward what we do best. I’ve always believed you should do a couple things well instead of many things just so-so.

And for us, that’s telling stories of athletes in our own community.

Our commitment to local sports, especially high schools, was reflected across many platforms.

Online, our readership continued to grow. Thousands of readers voted each week in our online polls for athlete for the week.

We dove deeper into the use of video to accompany our coverage of high school games. Collectively, those videos were viewed several thousand times.

In the print media, we broke new ground at The Columbian by publishing a pair of special sections.

One ushered in the high school football season by profiling each local team and league. The other celebrated the achievements of this fall’s local state champions in football, girls soccer and cross country.

So where do we go in 2017?

If the Columbian sports department were a sports car (or more likely a Ford Pinto) we’d hold the steering wheel straight and press down on the gas. We’re going full throttle in our coverage of local sports.

We’ll be helped by a new addition to our team, one who is familiar to many in Southwest Washington.

Meg Wochnick has joined us. She has spent the past 10 years covering sports at the local level, first in Olympia and most recently as at The Daily News in Longview.

In joining our team, her enthusiasm, knowledge and experience will help us offer some of the best high school sports coverage in Southwest Washington, if not the whole state.

Those special print sections I mentioned earlier? Starting in the fall of 2017, we’ll be doing one for each high school athletic season.

Those videos I mentioned? Well be doing those more often. A podcast is on the horizon.

We’ll have the personnel to find those human-interest stories that are waiting to be told. Plus, we’ll delve into issues that affect athletes across the county.

The year that was saw The Columbian sports department strengthen our voice when it comes to telling the stories of Clark County athletes.

This upcoming year, we’ll sing the same tune … only louder.

Micah Rice is The Columbian’s Sports Editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, micah.rice@columbian.com or on Twitter @col_mrice.