Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Aug. 10, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Catching up on work

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

I’m back from my first pandemic-era cruise and can report it was a great vacation and a familiar experience, with a few common-sense changes. You should go!

Meanwhile, several things happened at work that you should know about.

Letters to the editor

Our letters to the editor section has been greatly reduced for the past week or so. What’s happening? Is this change permanent?

Nope, it’s not permanent. Our news assistant who processes the letters took a vacation. So we are stretching out the supply of letters we had on hand so that we print at least one letter every day. The volume of letters should be back to normal starting Thanksgiving week.

It’s worth mentioning that we print almost every letter we receive, so long as it fits our guidelines. Sometimes we don’t actually have enough letters, so on those days we print a second cartoon or opinion column. There’s rarely a big enough backlog that the news assistant could fill two whole weeks ahead of her vacation.

Paul McCartney was late

Did you happen to get two issues of Parade magazine in your newspaper last Sunday? I know I did. I received both the Nov. 7 edition, which featured CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell, and the Oct. 24 edition, which featured Paul McCartney. Here’s what happened: Parade is printed off-site and trucked to newspapers which subscribe to it, including The Columbian. Unfortunately we didn’t receive our shipment in time to insert Parade into the Oct. 24 paper. When the issue finally arrived, we inserted it into our next Sunday edition. I was glad to get my copy, because as a baby boomer I’m always interested in McCartney and The Beatles. I’m just glad that the delayed issue wasn’t themed around Halloween!

Working with police

One of the most important jobs of the news media is to hold powerful people accountable. This would include the police, as you’ve seen many stories in the last year, reported both locally and nationally.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t work with them when it’s in everyone’s best interests. An example occurred Monday. After Sunday’s horrific killing of a Vancouver woman in her home, allegedly by her husband, Vancouver police temporarily withheld the names of both the victim and the suspect until next of kin could be notified.

By Monday morning, we had learned the parties’ names from court records; the suspect had appeared in court at 9 a.m. But police reached out to us to let us know they weren’t sure the victim’s family, who lives out of state, had heard about their loss.

So we withheld the names of the victim and suspect for most of the day until police let us know the family had been notified. I noticed that all of the other Portland-area media that covered the story — the television stations and The Oregonian — also honored the police’s request.

I think the media’s decision to comply with the police request was the right one. We need to be sensitive to people who are getting the worst news of their lives. Our condolences go to the family of the victim, Monica Murrah.

Spotting new bylines

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, we are in the process of welcoming several new staff members to our newsroom. The latest group includes:

  • Dylan Jefferies, who is covering health, social services, nonprofits and charities. He is a recent graduate of Portland State University, and spent the summer working at The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., as a Charles Snowden intern.
  • Will Denner, sports reporter, who joined us from Southern Oregon, where he had covered local sports for the Mail-Tribune.
  • Sarah Wolf, who will cover business, economic and transportation news when she joins us later this month. She’s a Vancouver resident who has worked at the Catholic Sentinel for several years.

I can’t wait to read the stories these talented, energetic newcomers will bring to our readers.

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