Thursday, November 26, 2020
Nov. 26, 2020

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From the Newsroom: Staff ready to cook for the holiday

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

So now on to Thanksgiving.

We aren’t doing much at our house for the holiday. With the coronavirus spreading rapidly, we aren’t even inviting our adult daughter over for a turkey dinner.

At The Columbian, our Thanksgiving plans are still on. We weren’t sure at first whether our COVID-weary advertisers would be able to support the traditional big Thanksgiving Day newspaper, but it now appears that there will be at least some semblance of normalcy in that edition.

It takes a long time to assemble that newspaper and all of its advertising supplements, which have to be inserted, one into the other, by machines we have here at The Columbian. Our packaging department has been working on this for a while now, because we do ours and contract with several other newspapers to do theirs. Through my office window I have seen big trucks arrive with what I suspect are loads of the inserts.

This extra activity ends up creating some unusual schedules for the newsroom. Specifically, we are going to produce two newspapers on Tuesday.

First up will be the Thanksgiving Day print edition. We’ll get an early start on it, and have the first two sections on the press at 6 p.m., followed by the last two sections at 9 p.m. Then we’ll print the Wednesday paper at 11:30 p.m.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Thursday paper will be printed before the Wednesday paper, so there is time to insert all the advertising.

We’ve done this for the last several years. There are a few challenges when we do this:

• First, we don’t want to print stories in the Wednesday paper that follow up on stories that won’t appear until Thursday.

• Second, we need to schedule our copy editors and page designers so they don’t end up with a tremendously long workday on Tuesday.

• Third, we don’t want to run out of news.

To get around these challenges, we end up treating Thursday more like a magazine, with features that we can prepare in advance. This addresses the first and second issues. One of the frustrations of working in daily journalism is that we don’t have time or space to present some of these features. So News Editor Merridee Hanson and her crew have been saving some stories that we think readers will like and we will present them on that day.

As a special treat, reporter Monika Spykerman is writing an A1 feature story for that day that will help set just the right tone for the holiday.

To avoid running out of local news, Metro Editor Mark Bowder has assigned all of his reporters to write an extra “holiday feature” that can run Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This gives the editors the ability to work ahead, and also allows the reporters to enjoy some days off around the holiday.

Ready for mayhem

Even with the unusual deadlines, we will still need to be ready to handle breaking news, which we can and do publish anytime on our website and social media platforms. I hope it stays quiet. But unfortunately, this area has experienced a lot of mayhem around Thanksgiving Day in the last five years:

• In 2019, local mom Tiffany Hill was murdered by her husband in a school parking lot.

• In 2018, sheriff’s deputies shot and killed an auto theft suspect who rammed a patrol car.

• In 2017, a man was shot in a drugstore parking lot in Vancouver. (He survived.)

• In 2016, burglars murdered a Woodland homeowner and set his house ablaze.

• In 2015, a Vancouver coin store owner was robbed and murdered.

If you read The Columbian regularly, you know that these are not common occurrences around here, thankfully. For some reason, they just clustered around the holiday.

Just as this year’s pandemic will disrupt the usual pattern of home and hearth, I am hoping it will stop this unfortunate streak of mayhem and death. But if it happens, you can be sure we will cover it.

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