Saturday, August 13, 2022
Aug. 13, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Local news is our No. 1 priority

By , Columbian Editor

In the last two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about our recent series on former Vancouver pastor John Bishop. Although I didn’t keep count, I would say that the positive comments and praise for the reporters, Jessica Prokop and Patty Hastings, are running about 10-1 over the negative.

Most of the negative comments were along the lines of this letter:

“With our very democracy hanging by a thread, due to the daily antics of perhaps the worst (president) in the history of our nation, you choose to muck up the front page of The Columbian with (this) continuing saga … Good grief! If you feel this story must be told, couldn’t you find room elsewhere in your paper to print it, like Sunday’s religious section? … I sure miss retired Editor Lou B.!”

I miss Lou, too! Not only was he a good boss, he makes an incredible Italian Wedding Soup. But I think he would agree with me on this point: What The Columbian has to offer is the local news.

We still try to be a comprehensive news source. You can get the major stories from around the world in our printed newspaper and on our website. We try hard to present a robust lineup of sports. In addition to local high school sports, you’ll find the Major League Baseball box scores, for example, and coverage of college football. In addition to local stories our Life section is full of syndicated content including recipes, puzzles and the comics. All of this stuff has long been a staple of traditional daily newspapers.

But I am not going to tell you that we are a better source of information about national politics than The Washington Post. And if you want to read the world’s best international reporting, you should consider buying a digital subscription to The New York Times.

There’s value in gathering and packaging all of this content for readers. We think our readers still want a single convenient place to find out about the world.

The Columbian’s world is centered in Clark County. Given a choice, we are always going to push the local news forward. You can get coverage about Brett Kavanaugh or Donald Trump from thousands of places, but we were the only one writing about John Bishop. (By the way, our religion page appears on Saturdays, and I don’t consider Trump to be the worst U.S. president … my vote goes to James Buchanan.)

Endorsement season

Of course, that emphasis on local coverage also extends to our editorial page. We’re proud to be able to still offer a staff-written opinion every day of the year. Too many newspapers have silenced their editorial voices or limited them to a few days per week. Opinion Editor Greg Jayne tries to write about local issues as much as possible, with second priority to state and regional issues, and lower priority to national and international topics.

If you like local politics, stand by to hear a lot about them. We have just commenced our series of editorials endorsing the candidates and ballot measures that will appear before local voters. It doesn’t seem possible that we can be talking about November when we’re still wearing short pants, but in order to offer more than 30 opinions between now and mid-October, when voting begins, we needed to start our series last week.

Finally, if it is any solace to the letter’s author, next week includes the first Saturday of the month, so Lou Brancaccio’s column will be here instead of mine!


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