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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: Welcome to your weekend

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: June 3, 2023, 6:02am

Welcome to your new weekend edition of The Columbian. I hope you find a lot to read in today’s edition and in the many weekend editions to come.

I’ve already outlined the major changes, and you’ll see for yourself today how they manifested. I hope it will take you longer to read the paper, which combines our former Saturday and Sunday editions, plus adds some new content such as an Outdoors page in the Sports section.

We’ll probably make a few tweaks to the design in the weeks to come. For example, we are still trying to decide whether to leave this column on the local cover, where it’s been since Lou Brancaccio wrote it, or move it to the Opinion pages to leave more room for local news.

Thanks to News Editor Merridee Hanson for her many, many hours of work to make this change happen. Among other things, she came up with the detailed plan for how the sections and pages came together. Also thanks to the sports team, which will help metro handle breaking news on Saturdays. Finally, I wanted to thank all our team members who had their work schedules changed. In the newsroom, this group includes all of the metro reporters and most of the copy desk.

Removing stories

Once in awhile, we get a request to remove a story from our website. Generally the request comes from someone who is the subject of an unflattering story, such as a story about their felony arrest or conviction.

Our answer is the same: We don’t remove stories from our website. This has been our long-standing policy for several reasons. First, removing the story from our website would not remove it from the internet. Our site is widely indexed, and our local stories are republished by news agencies including The Associated Press and Tribune News Services.

Second, it wouldn’t be fair to our subscribers to selectively remove stories they’ve paid to receive and access. Nor would it be fair to other people who are the subject of unflattering stories that remain on the site.

Finally, I don’t want to sit in judgment of people and try to decide if I think their reasons for taking down a story are compelling. Journalists don’t have that right. There are other, operational reasons, too.

Of course, if a story is in error, we will correct it, no matter how old the mistake. The correction is also posted with the story online.

League discusses local news

The League of Women Voters of Washington, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes civics and voting, recently spent many months studying the decline in Washington’s news media, specifically newspapers.

As the news industry’s traditional for-profit business model failed due largely to the internet, our democracy has suffered, according to the league’s report, which was issued last year. Retired Clark College educator and journalist Dee Anne Finken was one of the report’s principal authors.

Finken and Lunell Haught, immediate past president of the league, recently discussed their report with Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program. Originally aired May 25, it is available at tvw.org.

“Local news outlets play a crucial role in the functioning of democratic societies — they keep citizens informed of the key issues within their communities and provide important checks on governmental power,” said Mary Coltrane, president of the League of Women Voters of Washington, in a news release advancing the show. “Our study shows the very real costs of the loss of local journalism on communities. We are proud of this study and hope that it will provide the impetus for our state to take action to strengthen and grow this important civic resource.”

Me too.