Monday, September 20, 2021
Sept. 20, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Can you find the good news?

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

I like to get suggestions from readers about stories to cover or how to improve The Columbian. Recently, I enjoyed talking with Jaquie Cole, a Ridgefield woman who reached out to us because she thought our readers might be interested in an aerial photo of Mount St. Helens she took the day before the big eruption. We were! In fact, it made a nice story for our Monday e-edition.

The next reader suggestion was a little tougher for me. A reader named Stan asked, “Would it be possible for The Columbian to publish once per month (or at least once per quarter) one page with nothing but good news: e.g. people helping people, acts of kindness, a success story. We need some good news in the midst of shootings, riots, protests, war and other depressing news that floods our eyes and ears daily.”

First of all, Stan, I couldn’t agree more! There are many good things that happen every day. In fact, I think there are more good things than bad things that happen every day.

But here are two eternal problems: First, news focuses on the unusual, and, if there is more good news in the world, then it’s the bad news that is unusual and thus is focused upon. If the morning commuter traffic flows well and everyone makes it to work on time, that’s not news. But it’s news if there’s a crash on the Interstate 5 Bridge and traffic backs up to Hazel Dell and the Vancouver Mall for four hours.

The second eternal problem is that when we publish good news, readers tend to ignore it. That makes me sad.

We’ve taken pains to publish a “good news” page or section in The Columbian every week for at least the last 25 years.

Can you name this regular feature? It’s not the comics. Not the editorial page. Not even Sports, although there is a tremendous amount of good news to be found in our local sports reporting, particularly in the feature stories about local athletes.

Nope. I am talking about “In Your Neighborhood,” which currently appears Sundays in our Metro section. It’s carefully assembled by Lyndsey Hewitt, who does a multitude of tasks in our newsroom, including handling perhaps the worst news: the death notices.

Last Sunday’s report included seven stories and six photos. In Woodland, a high school team won a state championship by demonstrating its workplace skills. A student at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics won this district’s Congressional Art Competition and her painting, “Mellona,” will hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year. Furry Friends raised $4,300 for its no-kill cat shelter’s veterinary program. And so on. There is so much good news stuffed into this feature, we have to print it in our smaller typeface. (If you have trouble reading agate type, it’s full-sized online.)

My frustration is that readers somehow miss this weekly page. Stan is not alone in saying he would like a page devoted to only good news, but somehow seems to miss it.

If you don’t read it regularly, check it out Sunday. A lot of good news will be there, I promise!

Last ‘Roll Call’

The owner of Voterama in Congress, which we call Roll Call, has ended his feature and retired, he said Monday.

Richard Thomas sought a buyer for his customized report on how your state’s congressional delegation voted on every bill. But a last-minute bid fell through after the prospective buyer said the numbers didn’t look profitable enough.

“Thank you, again, for your support over many years, or even several decades in many cases,” Thomas wrote. “One subscriber, in fact, has been on board ever since our first day of publication in July 1973!

“Enough with nostalgia. My retirement has arrived. And the best of everything to you and the future of local news.”

Thanks, Rick, and the best of everything to you, too. Columbian readers will miss your feature.

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