Sunday, May 9, 2021
May 9, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Some changes for the better

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about why the weekday comics and some other news pages were temporarily being printed just in black instead of in full color. It came down to the timing of a shipment of press plates. We have recently increased our volume of plate orders because we are taking on new commercial printing contracts with Gannett, whose Pacific Northwest properties include The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., the Salem, Ore., Statesman Journal, and Bremerton’s Kitsap Sun.

We’re going to begin to fulfill these printing contracts in the next couple of weeks. Although most of the impact will be in our printing and packaging division, where we are creating new jobs and bringing some part-time workers back to full time, Columbian readers will notice a few changes. I think they’re for the better.

The best news is that we will resume printing The Columbian later in the evening, which will allow us to get the evening sports scores into the paper. Frankly, that’s become a luxury for print newspapers the last few years as the industry saves costs by combining press operations. As the hub of what is becoming a good-sized commercial printing operation, our newspaper will be the last on the press, and so we will be able to catch those late scores. And, if you follow the lottery, we should once again be able to get the previous night’s winning numbers into the printed paper.

Another change is that we will move the Friday and Saturday classified sections, which are currently pre-run, into the main body of the paper. This move frees up time in the pressroom to accommodate our contract print jobs. It should also leave us with a little more front-section “newshole,” or the area that we have to put news stories once all the ads and regular features are placed onto the pages.

Because the classifieds will appear in the back of the B section, we will move the weather page to the back of the A section on Fridays and Saturdays. We’ll drop some of the filler material that has appeared in the Friday and Saturday classifieds, but we will keep the Friday coloring feature, which is popular with readers. We are going to try to put it into the front section, but it may move around a little as we see how everything fits together.

I’ll keep you updated if anything changes and try to remember to put an editor’s note in the March 5 paper, which will be the first Friday with the new configuration.

Weathering snow and ice

Reporters like to snicker that the definition of news is “Anything that happens to your editor,” but that Tuesday A1 photo of the big tree into the power line was taken approximately four blocks from my house in Felida. Clark Public Utilities and Comcast arrived right away, but our power was out for 12 hours as they repaired all of the damage. The wires were down for blocks, and several utility poles were leaning precariously. Needless to say, the street was closed for hours, too.

I hope things were better in your neighborhood, but in many areas of Clark County, they weren’t. So we made the difficult decision to hold the Saturday and Sunday printed newspapers, rather than deliver them. (A few Sunday newspapers made it onto the sales racks at local stores that our single-copy representatives could safely reach.)

In my 20-plus years at The Columbian, this has happened a couple of other times. We don’t want to put our carrier force at risk delivering papers in the middle of the night, when roads are covered in snow and ice. And, it’s hard to see road hazards, such as downed power lines, in the darkness.

We actually printed the papers on schedule, and stored them in our delivery vans until Monday’s thaw. We had to plow the parking lot to keep the vans from getting stuck on the 50-yard trip to the loading dock!

Although we missed your delivery on those nights, we made our e-edition and website free to all, and posted notices online and on our phones about the decision not to deliver. I asked our circulation customer representatives how many complaints we had received, and the answer was surprisingly few. Thank you for being patient with us during the storm, and, if it happens again, be sure to visit us online to get your daily dose of news. That is, assuming the power is still on at your house.

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