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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Oct. 4, 2023

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From the Newsroom: I’m back. What did I miss?

By , Columbian Editor

If you read this column regularly, you know that I enjoy cruise travel. In fact, that’s where I’ve been for the last few weeks. My wife and I flew from Portland to Chile, spent some time in the Lake District and Santiago, then boarded a cruise ship, Sapphire Princess, bound for Los Angeles with several stops along the coast.

It was my first visit to the west coast of South America, and I hope I get to go back someday. The highlight for me? Lima, Peru. It’s one of the oldest cities in the Americas, where some of the ruins predate the Inca civilization. Yet it is also very up to date. I am tempted to spend the rest of this space showing you my vacation pictures, but that’s not what my boss is paying me to do!

While I was traveling, I was able to keep up with the news every day by reading The Columbian’s ePaper using our app. If you are a subscriber to the paper and a smartphone user, I would urge you to download our app and activate your digital subscription. It’s easy to do, but if you have any glitches, call our circulation department at 360-694-2312 and they’ll help you get going.

Wrong comics

If the comics we published in Friday’s paper looked familiar, it’s because they were a repeat from Thursday. Not an April Fool’s joke, it was a simple human error. We were able to fix the ePaper page online by midmorning Friday, and, barring another problem, the correct page should be in this print edition, along with Saturday’s comics. My apologies!

Giving newspapers a break

As the legislative session draws toward a close, Washington’s newspaper publishers are paying close attention to Senate Bill 5199, which would provide tax relief for newspaper publishers. The bill has passed the Senate and is under consideration in the House of Representatives. Specifically, it would offer a 10-year exemption to the business & occupation tax for newspapers, providing relief estimated at $1.6 million in the 2023-25 biennium. Newspapers currently pay 0.35 percent tax on gross receipts.

Columbian Publisher Ben Campbell has testified in favor of the bill. For us, the annual savings would be roughly equivalent to one reporter’s salary.

That’s a significant amount of money. Newspapers have been stretched and strained as our traditional business model was destroyed by the internet. Today many, if not most, Washington newspapers are losing money or barely breaking even, and are still reducing news staff to make ends meet. I know many people consider TikTok to be endlessly entertaining, but it won’t keep an eye on corrupt politicians, overreaching government or social injustice. That’s a job for a journalist.

The League of Women Voters of Washington hasn’t specifically endorsed the tax break but last week adopted a position stating, “The League of Women Voters of Washington believes it is the responsibility of the government to support credible local journalism that includes comprehensive reporting which informs the public about the decisions and actions of their government, and which holds civic and social leaders accountable to their constituents.”

“Regardless of any support that might be provided, control of all content must remain exclusively with the news organizations,” added the league’s president, Lunell Haught.

If you want to weigh in, an easy way to do so is to call the Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000.

Doughnuts galore

If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that there is a lot of delicious food. But I don’t think I have ever seen quite so many doughnuts in one place as I saw in the newsroom on Thursday.

The Life team is working on an upcoming feature on local shops, and of course that meant trying a few. And, by a few, I mean a few dozen. It’s going to be a fun story, so watch for it in near future. But now, I need coffee.