Friday, October 15, 2021
Oct. 15, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Crazy news day defies prediction

By , Columbian Editor

OK, I probably deserved what happened on Monday. After telling you last week that we were predictably in the middle of the summer news doldrums, we had one of those crazy days.

The day started slowly, just as I had so foolishly predicted. Because I was the first editor in the door on Monday morning, I started to put together the daily news budget.

The well seemed dry. We had a late story coming out of the Vancouver City Council, which was to hear a report on the new Navigation Center, which has been the subject of considerable complaints from neighbors and others. That seemed like a front-page story, and we had recent pictures.

We knew there was going to be a protest in Camas over plans to cut some trees south of Lacamas Lake in order to develop the land for homes. There was a photo, so that could be our C1 centerpiece. Finally, we had a story worthy of the front page about concerns that fixing up the area along Fourth Plain in central Vancouver could end up pricing neighbors on fixed incomes out of their homes.

And that was it. We were three stories short, and in my mind, four stories, because the Navigation Center and the gentrification stories were too similar to run on the same page on the same day.

We went into “dig up some news” mode and sent our reporting intern, Jeni Banceu, to WSU Vancouver to check on the corpse flower that was expected to bloom any day. Though nothing was happening, she soon came back with a “still waiting” story and photo.

We also checked on the trial of a man accused in the murder and robbery of a downtown Vancouver merchant. The prosecution was still presenting its case, but we could do a short update if needed.

But by then, we had plenty of copy. Health reporter Wyatt Stayner pitched a follow-up story on last SaturdayJuly 13’s Paddle for Life event that, due to cyanotoxins in Vancouver Lake, had to keep participants away from the water. Breaking news reporter Jerzy Shedlock was covering a bad wreck in Washougal, where a train struck a pickup. We had a good picture from photo intern Zack Wilkinson.

By the 3:30 p.m. front-page news meeting, the news was unexpectedly at full tide. The save-the-trees protest in Camas turned surprisingly newsy when beat reporter Adam Littman found out the logging was already underway. Business reporter Anthony Macuk got a copy of a revised development plan for the waterfront east of the Interstate 5 Bridge that would allow Joe’s Crab Shack and Who-Song & Larry’s to be saved.

Now with too much news, we ended up holding the gentrification story and a story about local home sales, and then found out that the closing statements were taking place in the murder trial. That was news. Reporter Jack Heffernan sat in and filed a late-breaking story.

I thought we had wrapped up our busy day when just after 8 p.m. we got word that the corpse flower — Titan VanCoug — was now in bloom! Reporter Katie Gillespie and photographer Alisha Jucevic hurried to campus and wrote an updated story and filed fresh photos from their cars just before our print deadline. We sent a push alert to subscribers so they’d know about it — these flowers have a lifespan of hours, and we knew many people would want to see Titan.

What a crazy news day! I swear I am not going to write about summer news doldrums again.

A very special Press Talk

Though he’s officially retired, my old editor, Lou Brancaccio, still likes to stir the political pot around here with his monthly Press Talk column. Love it or hate it, it’s always a fun read. So I want to let everyone know that we are moving his August column up a week, to Saturday, July 27. Be sure to read Lou’s column next week and you can judge whether, in his words, it is the “best one yet.”