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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: Some opinionated thoughts

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: March 9, 2024, 6:06am

If you have been reading newspapers for a long time, like I have, you’re probably familiar with the difference between news pages and editorial pages. News stories, which appear on the front page and throughout the paper, are written by reporters who try to include all the relevant facts without offering their own opinions.

In addition, most newspapers, including The Columbian, usually offer one or more opinion pages. These pages often include an editorial that argues one side or another of a local or national issue, praises or scorns, or tries to analyze the arguments. There’s a political cartoon, and letters from readers that also state points of view. Finally, most opinion pages include one or more political columnists, who also advance a position. Sometimes these columns are written by experts on a subject.

But online it can be harder to tell what is offered as news and what is offered as opinion. Complicating matters is that many online consumers never developed the newspaper reading habit. They might not realize that an organization like The Columbian offers both.

So we are in the process of improving our labeling of opinion content. We want readers to be able to quickly and easily discern between our opinions, readers’ opinions (letters to the editor), and opinion columnists, and the difference between all of these and our news stories. Look for these labels to be introduced over the next several weeks.

Editorial board changes

On a related note, our editorial board is undergoing some changes. Scott and Jody Campbell, the longtime family owners of The Columbian, both retired from day-to-day management here a few years ago, but had stayed on our editorial board.

Now they have decided to step away from that duty, too. As Jody explained in an email, “We are having too much fun with grandkids and travel!”

The editorial board now consists of their eldest son, Ben Campbell, who is the fourth-generation publisher of The Columbian, along with Editorial Page Editor Greg Jayne, Assistant News Editor Colleen Keller and me.

We meet about once a month to talk about local issues we want to highlight and what we might want to say. Greg Jayne writes most of the editorials, but Colleen and I chip in on occasion, or when Greg is away. All four board members have the chance to review the editorials and suggest changes before they are published.

This will be a busy year for the board, as we try to meet and interview many candidates for political office, including those running for statewide offices, local legislative positions and the 3rd Congressional District. We plan to offer endorsements in these races after we have conducted the interviews.

The endorsements will be timed to roughly coincide with the date ballots are mailed to voters, which would be mid-July for the primary and mid-October for the general election.

We haven’t yet discussed whether the editorial board will offer an endorsement for U.S. president. Four years ago, we decided against it, reasoning that we had no special insight into either candidate. Neither visited Clark County during their campaigns, nor were they running on any issues specific to our area.

We got some criticism for our nonendorsement but looking back, I think that was a good decision. And I have to say that as of this moment I wouldn’t care to endorse either Joe Biden or Donald Trump this year, but for a different reason.

Both have had their time in the office, and my personal view is that neither candidate is the best that their respective parties can produce. I think many other Americans agree. But we’ll see what the editorial board thinks when the time comes.