Monday, October 26, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020

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From the Newsroom: Virtual approach to the news

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

As if this world wasn’t weird enough, we ended up giving a tour of the newsroom this week, and no one was there.

Before I tell you more about it, let me first observe that this pandemic has overstayed its welcome. After pausing many activities in March, we are now forced to find new ways to accomplish our goals. An important example in the news this week was the resumption of jury trials in Clark County.

Much less important was our “Meet the Media” session with the Public Relations Society of America’s local chapter. We’d done one of these several years ago, and it was successful. They brought sandwiches, we sat around and talked for an hour about how to pitch stories, and then I gave them a tour of the newsroom (somewhat interesting) and our pressroom (very interesting).

We had another one set for April 16, but of course that had to be postponed. Surely, we thought, by September the world would be safe again for sandwiches and conversation. No dice.

So we ended up with a video chat and bringing our own sandwiches, although I didn’t see the participants actually eat anything. Assistant Metro Editor Will Campbell, who is very good at video, provided a prerecorded tour of the eerily deserted newsroom.

Congressional debate

Our next foray into online events will be a debate between congressional candidates Jaime Herrera Beutler and Carolyn Long. We tried hard to make this happen two years ago, but the candidates never ended up making a joint public appearance in Clark County.

The League of Women Voters gets most of the credit for making it happen this year. The nonpartisan group started more than three months ago when it became apparent a rematch was likely in this race. There was a lot of back-and-forth needed to make it happen.

I have been lucky enough to sit through two Columbian Editorial Board meetings featuring these candidates, and really enjoyed hearing from both of them. You would be hard-pressed to find better candidates.

The debate will be televised live at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, by CVTV. If you don’t have Comcast cable TV, it will be streamed on CVTV.org. If that time doesn’t work for you, I am sure it will be rerun several times before the election, and available to be streamed on demand.

The debate will be co-sponsored by The Columbian, The Longview Daily News, the Skamania County Pioneer and the Goldendale Sentinel. It’s hosted by three regional branches of the League of Women Voters, from Clark, Cowlitz and Klickitat-Skamania counties.

Our politics reporter, Calley Hair, will be one of the panelists who questions the candidates. We are still soliciting questions from the general public, too. If you want to submit a question, go to the Clark Asks portal on our webpage, https://www.columbian.com/clark-asks/.

So far we have received several dozen questions. Several people are asking about election security or health care. There are questions about new subjects like the pandemic and wildfire smoke, and old subjects like abortion rights. It will be an interesting debate.

Governor’s race

We are still working on bringing you more on the governor’s race. Two-term incumbent Jay Inslee is pretty well known in this part of the state, but his challenger, small-town cop Loren Culp, not so much. Our jack-of-all-trades sports editor, Micah Rice, sat through Culp’s stump speech Sunday, and we are trying to arrange a joint editorial board interview. I will be sure to let you know if that happens.

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