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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: An odd (and wrong) view of downtown

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: October 21, 2023, 6:03am
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It figures that an old-fashioned mistake would crop up in a history story.

I’m talking about a photo in the online version of last Saturday’s story detailing the surprisingly contentious history of building the Interstate 205 Glenn Jackson Bridge. Because the photo appears only online, print readers didn’t see it.

Reader Dan Packard was quick to spot the error and send me a note. “In the excellent Columbian Saturday story about the history of the I-205 bridge, the circa 1968 close-up picture of the Interstate bridge and downtown Vancouver is reversed. I-5 runs east of downtown Vancouver, not west.”

Yep, the photo was flopped. This was easier to do back in the days when we printed photos from negatives. If you placed the negative wrong side up in the enlarger, you got a mirror image. You can still make this mistake today using software, which is what happened in this case, but it is less common.

I have to say the reversed photo, which was taken above the bridge looking north along Highway 99 and into downtown, was really interesting to look at, though it was wrong.

This note isn’t spam

If you are one of the approximately 85,000 subscribers to one or more of our newsletters, you received an email from us within the last week that says “Dear readers, we would like to remind you that we are in the process of migrating our newsletters to another platform. This means that you will need to save noreply@columbian-email.com in your safe senders list by saving it to your email contact. Please do so now to avoid any newsletters going to your junk/spam folder.”

Email like that makes me deeply suspicious, but this one is legit. We are changing vendors, which we think will provide better service to us and unobtrusively to our readers. In fact, the migration to the new platform began this week. If we achieve our goal, you’ll notice nothing, but Web Editor Amy Libby’s job will be easier.

If you don’t get your newsletter or can’t figure out what to do to add the new address to the safe senders list, call us at 360-694-2312 or email circulation@columbian.com.

By the way, please sign up for one or more of our eight free newsletters by visiting www.columbian.com/newsletters.

Using confidential sources

Generally speaking, news organizations including The Columbian try to avoid using confidential sources, which are people who give information to reporters but don’t want a name associated with it. Giving the full name and title of a news source helps readers evaluate the information. It prevents sources from taking cheap shots at their rivals. It decreases the chances of falsehoods being reported as facts.

But sometimes using full names harms vulnerable people. That recently resulted in an interesting discussion around this subject with our two homelessness and affordable housing reporters, Mia Ryder-Marks and Alexis Weisend.

They said people who are homeless or facing homelessness are at the center of their reporting. Telling their stories is essential to help readers understand their lives. But at the same time, the sources are troubled or embarrassed. Using their full names in a story can end up victimizing them down the road, when prospective landlords or employers search their names on the internet. We do not want to victimize these powerless people with our reporting.

So that’s why on occasion, you’ll see a person struggling with housing referred to in our stories as “… (first name,) who didn’t want to give his last name, said….”

We’ll try to explain in each story why we granted anonymity. Being transparent with readers is also part of establishing credibility.

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