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Wednesday,  June 19 , 2024

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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: Addresser loses its grip

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: March 16, 2024, 6:10am

Let’s start this column with an apology to print subscribers who didn’t receive last Saturday’s edition, or received it late. We had one of those kinds of problems that crops up now and again when you manufacture things.

According to our production director, Cris Matta, a chain slipped and a gripper broke somewhere between the press and where a high-speed inkjet printer squirts subscribers’ names and addresses in the upper right-hand corner of the front page. It didn’t shut down the line but it upset the timing, and some papers ended up with the address squirted in the wrong spot on the page. Some papers apparently didn’t get addressed at all. And, of course, many, like my copy, were just fine.

The problem wasn’t detected until after the papers were already out at the post office for delivery. Circulation Director Rachel Rose said the letter carriers did their best, and in some cases even delivered papers with missing addresses to the mailboxes of known subscribers. But, unfortunately, not everyone got their paper with Saturday’s mail.

Once alerted, we quickly found and repaired the problem. But, again, if you were one of the print subscribers who didn’t get a paper in last Saturday’s mail, my apologies.

Filling a news desert

If you follow news about the news media, you’ve probably heard the term “news desert.” These are communities — in some places, entire counties or regions — where no local news outlet exists. Studies have shown that in news deserts, where residents are deprived of news about what their government is doing, democracy withers and corruption thrives.

Last year the state Legislature allocated money to Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication to hire 16 reporters to help cover identified news deserts in Washington. Each reporter receives a two-year paid fellowship from WSU, including salary, benefits and a modest expense budget.

We saw a chance to fill a news desert right here in Southwest Washington, and applied for one of these fellows in conjunction with The Daily News in Longview.

Our application was accepted!

So we are seeking someone who can write about all facets of the Columbia River. The so-called “Great River of the West” literally shaped the geography of the Pacific Northwest. It nourished Native people for generations. But today we ask more of it than ever before. I’ll leave the details to what I hope will be two years of rich reporting.

We’re hoping to have our reporter start on July 1. To learn more about the program, including how to apply for the job, visit murrow.wsu.edu/student-work/experiential-learning/news-fellowship.

No 2 a.m. print jobs

I got an interesting question recently from a reader who surely works the night shift. He noticed that our ePaper usually is available online about 2 a.m., but you often can’t print the crossword puzzles until after 3 a.m., and sometimes as late as 4:30. Why?

Since I never look at the ePaper at 3 a.m., let alone try to print the puzzles, I hadn’t noticed. But Greg Hartgrave, the ePaper expert in our circulation department, knew the answer.

Apparently our ePaper vendor posts the edition around 2 a.m. (We don’t want it to go up earlier, because during football season we are still fiddling with the bonus sports pages at midnight.) After the edition is up, the software runs some segmentation functions in the background that are required to occur before individual pieces can be printed. This takes a couple of hours. But everything should be good to go by the edition’s official release time, which is 5 a.m.

You learn so many interesting things when you are a newspaper editor!