Monday, October 18, 2021
Oct. 18, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Welcoming our new colleagues

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Have you noticed a bunch of new bylines in The Columbian lately? As I mentioned in a column last month, we’ve been in hiring mode.

We are in the final stages of hiring a sports reporter, and are still recruiting for a business reporter and a health care/social services reporter. (If you know a good journalist, please send them our way!) I thought I would take a moment to introduce the newcomers thus far:

Shari Phiel is covering Clark County government, small cities and the state government and Legislature. It’s a big beat, but I am hoping some common themes will run through it, such as land use/urban growth boundaries. Shari has a lot of professional journalism experience, most recently as an editor at The Daily News in Longview, so she is up to the challenge.

Lauren Ellenbecker is our new Vancouver city government/federal government reporter. Lauren is from Anchorage, Alaska, but went to college at Washington State University in Pullman, where she studied journalism and was a staffer on the Daily Evergreen, the student newspaper. I am looking forward to getting to know her better, because she spent last year with AmeriCorps, the domestic service program, helping impoverished people in the Midwest. I am sure she has some very interesting and compelling stories to tell.

Hope Martinez, who joined us as a news assistant, is a Vancouver native and a recent college graduate with a background in fine arts. Hope has a variety of work to do, including producing the vital statistics such as marriage licenses and dissolutions. As you can see, these popular lists are back in the paper, thanks to Hope’s ability to learn new skills quickly.

Griffin Reilly, our new education reporter, is due to report for work on Monday. Griffin has just finished a Charles Snowden endowed internship at The Daily Astorian, after graduating earlier this year from the University of Oregon. We’re unusually excited to welcome him, as we have been without a permanent education reporter for more than a year. During the pandemic, sports reporter Meg Wochnick moved over to cover the beat and did great work. But now that high school sports are back, she’s back at her regular job.

Taylor Balkom is our new photojournalist, joining Photo Editor Amanda Cowan in this small but busy department. You have already been seeing Taylor’s photography in the paper; he has freelanced for us for more than a year, and he was particularly gracious at taking the assignments no one wants, such as the Christmas Day feature. We are delighted to make a more formal arrangement with him; his photojournalism is amazing and he is also a good reporter and writer. He previously worked for the Ketchikan Daily News in Alaska before coming to Portland.

Changing weather

The weather is changing. I’m not talking about the coming of fall, but about the giant weather graphic that appears daily in the print edition. Look for one change right away, and more to come in the future.

The most immediate change is to the tiny box in the lower right corner. It has listed the freezing level at various points around the Pacific Northwest, but our vendor, AccuWeather, says it is no longer able to provide that information. Instead, we’ll offer fishing and boating forecasts in the summertime. In the winter, when fewer people are boating, we’ll change that to the fishing and flu forecasts. This started Thursday.

Next, I want to change some of the cities where we report temperatures to make them more relevant. For example, I want to replace Acapulco, where Americans seldom travel, with a common destination like Cabo San Lucas. If you have some place you’d like to see included, please drop me a line!

The final change to the weather graphic will be replacing the photo at the top of the page. This image is probably 20 years old and needs to be updated. We’ll shoot the new photo after the old Red Lion hotel is demolished, which the Port of Vancouver plans to start this fall.

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