Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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From the Newsroom: What do Columbian editors do?

By , Columbian Editor

The best part of being The Columbian’s editor is getting to work with so many interesting, intelligent and dedicated people. Foremost among this group is our team of editors. Their names appear in print daily in the box on the bottom of Page A2, and you will also see their bylines and credit lines. We are a small, hands-on organization, and editors are expected to contribute their share of content to our online and print editions.

I thought I would take the space to talk a little about these editors and describe briefly what each does.

• Mark Bowder is our metro editor. Mark has the toughest job in the newsroom. I know, because I had that job for 14 years. It’s his duty to manage the bulk of the reporting staff, make story assignments, edit their copy, and decide what local content will be pitched for the front page and what will appear on the metro cover. The job involves a lot of coordination with the other editors to make sure photos are shot, graphics are prepared and that the whole news report will fit into any given edition. He is assisted by Jessica Prokop, who oversees or personally writes most of the police, fire and courts news, and Will Campbell, who leads our business reporting.

• Merridee Hanson is the news editor. Her title often confuses people, who assume she is the person to talk with about getting a Columbian reporter to write a story. She actually oversees the members of our copy desk, who edit the stories, select the wire copy, write the headlines, tend the web and design the print pages and graphics. It is a huge and important job, so she has two assistant editors. Colleen Keller is our main “wire” editor, choosing copy from Associated Press and our other news services to be placed on various news and features pages. When Greg Jayne goes on vacation, Colleen writes great editorials. Amy Libby is our web editor, overseeing, including posting a lot of stories on weekdays, helping with breaking news and producing our email newsletters.

• Micah Rice is the sports editor. This job is pretty much everything you would expect: overseeing the sports section, from reporting to design. Micah does a fair amount of sports reporting and produces the sports pages several nights per week. During the pandemic, with many sports on hiatus, we have pressed him into service as our Sunday web host, keeping our online readers up to date on news breaking locally and everywhere else. That’s why you’ll see his byline on police news items, which I admit otherwise seems a little strange! Our assistant sports editor is Tim Martinez, who oversees prep sports coverage (and writes his share of it).

• Erin Middlewood is the features editor. Erin’s job became both easier and more complicated due to the pandemic. It’s easier, because she is not having to oversee production of our Weekend section. It’s more complicated, because so many community events have been canceled and our lives outside work have changed so much, it’s caused us to overhaul our concept of what a Life section is and should be. She and her two-person team are doing an amazing job at this.

• Amanda Cowan is the photo editor. With only two photographers on staff, she spends a lot of her day on assignment, but the fun is broken up with a lot of meetings and paperwork. She’s the licensed pilot for our drone, which we have vowed to use more before the weather deteriorates this fall.

• Greg Jayne is the opinion editor. In some ways Greg has the perfect job — we mostly leave him alone and pay him to write — but that also means he needs to have daily opinions, which just exhausts me when I fill in. As the opinion editor, Greg remains aloof from the news team. You won’t see him assigning, writing or editing news stories. He works closely with the editorial board, which reads drafts of his editorials and offers suggestions and changes.

This is an amazing group of people. You couldn’t find a team that is more devoted to the community and willing to do what needs to be done to tell its stories. I really am blessed to work with them.