Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Dec. 11, 2019

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From the Newsroom: News doesn’t care about holiday issues

By , Columbian Editor
Published: November 30, 2019, 6:02am

Sometimes the most practical plans don’t turn out to be ideal. I think that might have been the case with our Thanksgiving print edition.

We printed the newspaper in advance, on Tuesday evening, for practical reasons. Our Thanksgiving paper was huge, requiring many extra hours of labor to assemble, while at the same time our crew was busy producing newspapers and bundles of inserts under contract to several other, larger, Northwest publications. We hired temporary workers, leased extra trucks and trailers, and even used part of our parking lot for overflow.

To be honest, I don’t think there was any way we could have maintained our normal 11:30 p.m. press start and still had the paper on your doorstep on Thanksgiving morning. Depending on when your turkey went into the oven, even dinner-time delivery might have been a stretch.

But by printing the paper in advance, we knew there wouldn’t be a chance to offer any of Wednesday’s news. So we filled it with other content.

Features Editor Erin Middlewood had reported a story about a local animal rescue that specialized in farm animals, and we had great photos, so we put that on the front page. On her features cover, we re-ran one of our most popular and requested stories about how Mill Plain and Fourth Plain got their names. Our Sports team was able to use its space to offer a well-illustrated feature on local pheasant hunting, a feature on a former local high school athlete who is now a sports broadcaster, and its annual all-region fall sports teams.

News Editor Merridee Hanson got into the spirit and designed a six-page “Holiday helpers” one-time special section. It gave us a great opportunity to print a variety of interesting wire stories we wouldn’t normally have enough space to use, including the much-requested list of when holiday TV specials will air.

So that was our paper and I was pretty proud of it until I got to work Wednesday morning.

Now, you wouldn’t think there would be that much breaking news on the day before Thanksgiving. But this year seemed to have more than its share. It started at about 2 a.m. with a two-alarm fire at Pied Piper Pizza in east Vancouver that, ironically, may have started in the ice machine.

Later in the morning came word that one of the victims in Tuesday afternoon’s domestic violence shooting had died, along with the name of the suspected shooter. There was a lot to update.

Not even an hour later, a King County judge temporarily set aside Initiative 976, Tim Eyman’s measure that would cap auto licensing fees at $30 per year, which was approved by voters earlier this month.

I wish we could have had all of this news in our Thursday print edition. But there was a silver lining to all of this: our website and smartphone app. We were able to get all of these stories online as soon as the news broke, and we continued to update them all day as needed.

These days, all of our breaking news goes online first and in the print edition later, and I can see this trend continuing to evolve. Maybe someday the role of print newspapers will be more like the traditional news magazines with a blend of old-time weeklies like Collier’s or The Saturday Evening Post, where we bring you additional depth and perspective on the news of the week, along with a dose of entertainment.

By the way, our print subscribers can receive unlimited access to our digital products at no extra charge. To sign up for access to our website or app, visit www.columbian.com/digital. If you want to look at the electronic version of the printed paper (I like this when I am traveling) visit www.columbian.com/ePaper. If for any reason you have trouble signing up, call our circulation subscriber service line, 360-694-2312.

In the end, our Thanksgiving paper was not as newsy as it could have been. But I am hoping you found some interesting stories to read before the family, feasting and football began, and stayed up-to-date on our website.

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Craig Brown
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