<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Friday,  July 19 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: Sports tells really good stories

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: October 14, 2023, 6:02am

It’s been too long since I bragged about our Sports staff and all the good work that its five members produce. Now, before you get started on the lack of coverage about your favorite college or professional sport, let me say that we follow the same set of guidelines in Sports that we do throughout all of The Columbian: We prioritize the local stories, the ones you can’t get by watching ESPN or reading The Athletic.

Of course, this time of year that means a lot of high school game coverage. For Thursday’s edition, Tim Martinez went to Portland to cover the boy’s golf district tournament. Will Denner went to the long-awaited Columbia River-Ridgefield girls volleyball match. These two schools, just a few miles apart, met last year for the state title and both are once again ranked in the Top 10 in the state. When these teams play, there’s a lot of good volleyball.

Sports Editor Micah Rice covered La Center volleyball and filed an inspiring story about the team honoring a mother who is battling breast cancer. Freshman player Kylee Mills led her mother, Alexis Mills, onto the court and placed a tiara on her head as the teammates filled her arms with pink roses. “It honestly brought me to tears,” said La Center libero Mia Achziger.

On Wednesday, sports reporter Meg Wochnick profiled another La Center girl, Sonja Austad, who swims competitively despite being diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy when she was only 18 months old. Sonja’s right leg makes some activities difficult; it took her five years to learn how to jump rope, and she couldn’t skip until her 13th birthday. But being in the water “makes me so beyond happy,” she said. “I would be a very different person if I didn’t swim.”

By the way, she’s already qualified for the district tournament.

It’s been many years since my daughter attended Columbia River and played tennis, so I don’t keep track of league standings like I used to. But I always make a point of reading the sports section for inspiring stories like these.

Testing, testing

While I am on the subject of our sports staff, I should mention that we often use them to test new things. They were some of our earliest adopters of Twitter, now known as X, to keep audiences informed as games progressed. They shoot a lot of video segments, including play-by-play highlights and athlete interviews. There’s video with the story about La Center honoring the mom with cancer, for example.

And Sports is the home of our weekly podcast, Varsity 360. For the last couple of weeks, Micah and Meg have been talking a lot about high school football in the podcast, which lasts anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

The technical quality of the podcast improved this month when a local company, First Pacific Financial, agreed to let us use their professional podcasting studio, supplanting the jerry-rigged setup we have in one of the old offices off of the newsroom. The sound and lighting are so much better, after only two episodes the improvement is obvious.

Editorial boards

The professional podcast setup stands in stark contrast to our videos featuring The Columbian’s Editorial Board interviewing candidates for selected public offices. We’re still using a digital movie camera, propping it on a tripod in the corner and hoping the candidates will stay seated for the entire session. For sound, we use a digital recorder that we place on the middle of the table.

We did try to record at least one session this fall using our video conferencing equipment, but it wasn’t a huge improvement.

Despite the low quality of the video, the editorial board did try to ask high-quality questions. If you’re stuck on who to vote for, or want to see why we endorsed a certain candidate, check them out on The Columbian’s YouTube channel.