Sunday, April 11, 2021
April 11, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Ad campaign puts faces to our names

By , Columbian Editor

If you have lived in Clark County for awhile, you probably know what some of the local television news personalities look like. KOIN’s Dan Tilkin? Dark curly hair, 40s, blue eyes. KPTV’s Andy Carson? Blond hair, soul patch, doesn’t like to wear ties. And so on. Depending on your viewing habits, these folks are in your family rooms five days a week.

But how about Tim Martinez, who’s brought you Clark County prep sports news for the last 18 years? Or Jessica Prokop, who in four years at The Columbian has become one of our best reporters and worked her way onto our management team?

Trying to match names and faces is the goal of an advertising campaign we launched about three weeks ago. On Mondays, you’ll see a color ad somewhere in the print edition with pictures of some of our journalists, and a little bit about them. This week, we featured Jessica and the other two members of our Breaking News team, Jerzy Shedlock and Jack Heffernan.

I have to admit there is some discomfort on the staff about this feature. It’s sort of like when you had to present your project in front of the class.

Besides Jessica, Jerzy and Jack, we’ve already featured our outdoors writer, Terry Otto, and Tim and Sports Editor Micah Rice. I think our photo team is up next. We have almost 40 journalists, and the ads feature no more than three people at a time, so we might go all summer!

Although I am on the nervous end of the spectrum, I realize it is part of a greater goal, which is to create transparency in media. Research repeatedly shows that the more Americans know about the people who bring them the news, the more confidence they have in it. I think television news people have known this for years, and they also have the technological advantage of bringing their faces and voices to you every day.

In print we have to work harder. Our current campaign is part of that effort to increase transparency, as was our 2017 “Real reporters/real news” advertising that featured the metro reporters. The column you’re reading is another effort, and we also have our Clark Asks feature where readers suggest and vote on stories The Columbian should cover. You can read the latest one in today’s Community section.

The police log

If you’ve lived in small towns where there’s a good newspaper, you’ve likely read the emergency services log, which lists incidents by date, time, location, a description of the agencies dispatched, and why.

A caller who said she’s lived in the county for about a year, asked why The Columbian doesn’t do something like that. A clue lies in the previous paragraph: “small towns.” With almost 480,000 people living here, and more coming every month, our emergency services folks are busy.

We receive such a daily log, and Jerzy and Jack comb through its pages looking for major calls or trends. I looked Sunday to see what a typical day was like. There were 1,125 logged incidents. The first, at 11 seconds after midnight, was a Vancouver police traffic stop at 1400 Washington St. The last, at 11:56 p.m., was a call to Washougal police about suspicious noises in the 3300 block of A Street.

Since it was a sunny weekend, I thought it might have been unusually busy. So I checked Tuesday, March 19. It was busier! There were 1,286 items logged. The first call, at 12:02 a.m., was to VPD for assistance on Northeast 63rd Street; the last, two seconds before midnight, was the dispatch of East County Fire & Rescue paramedics to aid a person reported to be not breathing.

In a big community there tends to be a lot of personal drama unfolding at any time. So we try to find and report the stories with larger implications.


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