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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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From the Newsroom: Welcoming a familiar face

By , Columbian Editor

Have you noticed an old byline in The Columbian’s pages again? We recently welcomed back Dylan Jefferies, who was with us from November 2021 through November 2022. That was a difficult and stressful period for everyone, and especially for journalists. Dylan started as our health reporter and was in the thick of our COVID-19 coverage, then became our first Community Funded Journalism reporter covering homelessness and affordable housing.

He found the human misery on both beats to be weighing, and so he took a break. Now he’s back, just in time to cover politics and government, including what looks to be a nationally watched race in the 3rd Congressional District. First-term incumbent Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a Democrat who doesn’t necessarily toe the line on some of her party’s liberal positions, is facing a rematch with Trump-style Republican Joe Kent. There are other challengers, too, such as Leslie Lewallen, a Camas City Council member who seems to be more of a mainstream conservative.

Dylan’s position was formerly held by Carlos Fuentes, a talented young writer from Portland who left us late last year to cover state government at The Oregonian. Carlos had covered Vancouver city government in addition to the 3rd Congressional District, but we are going to have William Seekamp continue on the city beat for now, to give Dylan a little more time for politics and, hopefully, a little less stress.

And last week we bid farewell to Lauren Ellenbecker, who had been covering environmental issues and, before that, City Hall. She will be staying in the community; she took a job at a local environmental consulting firm.

So that leaves us with an opening for an environmental issues reporter. This is one of five positions funded by our community through our partners at the Local Media Foundation and to me seems like one of the more interesting and enjoyable beats, as it gets you out of the office, into the forests and onto the water. If you know someone who might like a job like that, the posting will be online at jobs.columbian.com starting next week.

Newsletter survey

Back when I was a Columbian business reporter, we used to produce an afternoon newsletter that included the day’s business headlines and the closing stock prices. (Back then, we were an afternoon paper, and could only offer midday prices.) We distributed it by fax. It was a friendly competitor to another local fax-distributed newsletter, The Daily Insider, which was published by a longtime local businessman named Tony Bacon.

Tony died in 2009, and The Daily Insider eventually passed away too. So did our daily business newsletter. But, as they say, what was old is new again, and now newsletters are a hot commodity.

We have nine different newsletters that we make available for free to anyone who wants to receive them. By far our most popular is Morning Briefing, which is delivered on weekday mornings as soon as Web Editor Amy Libby can add any important news from overnight.

This week we sent a survey to all of the Morning Briefing subscribers asking them for feedback and inviting them to enter a drawing to win one of five gift cards. This is a legitimate survey and not one of those marketing things; we recently hired a consultant to help us improve the quality and delivery of our newsletters, and identify gaps where readers might like us to create a new newsletter.

I’ll be honest: One reason to publish newsletters is to convince the readers who are not digital subscribers to The Columbian to take the plunge, because gathering, editing, formatting and delivering local journalism is expensive. A good way to get there is to make our newsletters as useful and enticing as possible, and that is our purpose here.

Craig Brown is The Columbian’s editor. 360-735-4514 or craig.brown@columbian.com