Monday, March 20, 2023
March 20, 2023

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From the Newsroom: We had a pretty good week

By , Columbian Editor

Forgive me if I brag a little bit this week, but I thought we produced some very good journalism. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Sunday: Sarah Wolf spent more than two months reporting her A1 package about Clark County’s technology employers and how they are clustered around the production of semiconductors. These companies have been in the county for decades, but many residents don’t realize exactly what it is they do, how they bolster the local economy, and what the outlook is for this important sector. Sarah’s story was accompanied by photos and infographics produced by our staff, and appeared as a special project online, which gives it additional interactive features. This sort of story is called explanatory journalism, and it’s a staple of a good local newspaper.
  • Tuesday: A feature story about a new Crumbl Cookies franchise opening in Orchards was the most popular story of the day online. But my favorite was the A1 story about the Ridgefield boat launch, which was reported and written by Shari Phiel. It’s a classic example of community news. Salmon fishers are concerned that the boat launch is already overcrowded, and that the problem will be made worse by redevelopment of vacant waterfront property where the old wood treatment plant used to be.
  • Wednesday: Lovers of true crime stories needed to look no further than our front page, where we led the paper with the opening statements in the Warren Forrest murder trial. Forrest, a former Clark County parks worker, is a suspected serial killer who is on trial in a cold case from 1974. Prosecutors say new, more sophisticated DNA tests have linked him to the killing of a teenager, Martha Morrison. Forrest is already serving a life sentence for another girl’s murder, and is suspected in others. Assistant Metro Editor Jessica Prokop is planning to sit through the entire trial and provide regular update stories. If you’re online, she can be followed live at We call this kind of coverage spot news, since it is happening “on the spot,” which in this case is the county courthouse.

That wasn’t the end of the good stuff in a strong paper. On the local cover, Kelsey Turner offered a story about people living in old RVs parked along public streets. Technically it’s not permitted, but there’s no good place for them to go. They can’t pay for a spot in an RV park, and there is a huge waitlist for the Safe Park program. Kelsey talked to officials, neighbors and a man who lives in his car for a well-rounded issues story, which we sometimes call a “situationer.”

On the same page, Griffin Reilly offered a spot news story about the county getting its first publicly funded charter school. I think that the term “charter school” prompts an immediate reaction from many people based on their political views. But the fact is, Clark County has never had one. I thought Griffin’s story explained the school and omitted the hyperbole.

Of course, we employ talented reporters beyond our metro team. In our Life section, Monika Spykerman writes a weekly food story. Usually the story is more about 21st century life in Clark County than it is about food, and this week’s installment, putatively about Chocolate Citrus Buttermilk Bundt Cake, was no exception. She quotes the Bible, talks about King Solomon, Buddha, The Beatles and The Doobie Brothers, and also mentions you need one tablespoon of orange marmalade. I loved it. Newspapers should be entertaining!

In Sports, Tim Martinez had the news that Columbia River High School’s football coach had resigned, after we got a tip from the sports editor’s daughter, who attends the school. Newspapers should be local!

In our business, we make mistakes. We miss stories. We could and should do better sometimes. But when everything comes together, newspapers provide an unmatched window into our community. I love them.