Friday, August 12, 2022
Aug. 12, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Burnt ends and a big scoop

By , Columbian Editor

We are in the local news business at The Columbian, but it is always fun when one of our stories gains national (or even international) attention.

The most recent example was sports reporter Meg Wochnick’s big scoop, “Burnt ends and blowing smoke.” It turns out at the same time the University of Notre Dame’s head football coach, Brian Kelly, was finalizing a secret deal to move to Louisiana State University, he was in Vancouver, visiting star recruit Tobias Merriweather and touting the benefits of the Fighting Irish.

Meg and Sports Editor Micah Rice both knew it would be a big story, because unlike my Washington State Cougars, those universities both have gigantic national followings.

Meg was able to get the scoop because she had previously written about Tobias and his family and had gained their trust. Shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, she was ready to hit the “publish” button.

It was interesting to watch the readership build, even though it was a Friday night — traditionally a slow period for our website. Hundreds of readers were in the story by the time I went home around 6:30, and it stayed hot all weekend. By Monday, it had received more than 140,000 views, and by Wednesday, more than 150,000. Meanwhile, three different national sports shows had asked Meg for an interview!

It will be our most-viewed story for this year. Even if you are not a football fan, you should read it. Not only are the events interesting, the story gives you a glimpse into the high-stakes world of signing elite football recruits. (By the way, Web Editor Amy Libby’s clever headline refers to the barbecue meal that Tobias’ dad was serving as Kelly sang Notre Dame’s praises.)

Almost up the creek

Did you happen to see the national story about Amazon Web Services being out for a good part of the day on Tuesday? If you didn’t, it could be because the outage ended up taking down our Associated Press wire service.

The electronic hole in Amazon’s computing cloud formed about the time we got to work, and it wasn’t fully resolved until 6 p.m., giving me plenty of time to get nervous about putting out a Wednesday newspaper with a whole bunch of empty white spaces.

Actually, we would have had enough leftover regional copy, and copy from the Tribune Content Agency wire service, that we could have limped by. But readers would have surely noticed some weird gaps in our coverage, particularly in college and professional sports.

As it ended up, we had fewer updates than usual to our website during the day, because we didn’t get any AP stories to post. In addition to the AP, the Amazon problem affected companies such as Delta Air Lines, Netflix and – gasp – McDonald’s, whose app was down.

Reading Monday’s paper

The Seattle Seahawks are bad this year, so I hadn’t gotten this particular complaint in a while. But they won Sunday. Tuesday, there it was in my email: “How come there was no Seahawks game story in today’s paper, since you no longer have a Monday paper?”

We do offer a Monday e-edition newspaper, with a complete sports section and the Seahawks game story and box score. It’s included with your subscription, and you can read it online at It’s easy to set up your account; go to Call us at 360-694-2312 or email if you have questions!

Because this complaint was emailed to me, I am pretty sure its author has a computer or smartphone with internet access. I mention her complaint here not to criticize, but to try to build awareness that we have a full Monday e-newspaper available to any subscriber who wants to read about the Seahawks game — good or bad — and all the rest of Sunday’s news. I sincerely hope you’ll read and enjoy it.


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