Monday will be an exciting day around our newsroom, and a milestone for The Columbian.
For the first time since Jack Campbell, then the editor and co-publisher, died unexpectedly in 1978, a member of the family that owns The Columbian will be working on a permanent, full-time basis in our newsroom.
Will Campbell is joining us as an assistant metro editor.
You’ve seen Will’s byline since he was a middle-schooler. I can remember he job-shadowed around the building one summer, spending a week with each department. But when the rotation was over, instead of spending the rest of the summer with his friends, he asked if he could come back to the newsroom. I can still remember thinking “This kid has a real hunger for news.”
Over the succeeding years, Will’s only gotten more hungry. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Oregon and most recently had been working at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane as a breaking news reporter, covering mostly the cops and fires beat, with some general assignments.
Looking at his Twitter stream, @wtcampbell, it looks like they kept him busy. Here’s a recent report: “Haskell said Rankin thought Novak was reaching for a gun in his waistband before shooting him. No gun was found, he said. Novak was in fact holding a baseball bat that he used to hit a car, causing a gunshot-like sound.” Or this one: “First responders are at the scene of reported car crash with a pedestrian at Riverside and Jefferson. One person is being loaded into a stretcher with a cervical collar but appears to be alert.”
Compared with that kind of news, Will may find his new job a little laid-back. He’ll be joining reporter Anthony Macuk in covering business news. I think that business news is the most interesting beat in the newsroom. Jobs and wages, the waterfront, the impact of tariffs, interesting companies like nLIGHT — there is a wealth of great business news to cover in Clark County. I’m looking forward to Will getting established in the beat, even if there is a distinct lack of gunfire and serious injury.
Whenever we get the chance, we like to remind our readers that The Columbian is one of what is becoming just a handful of family-owned community news organizations. A century ago, most newspapers were locally owned, but over the decades, corporations took over many titles as the family owners lost the interest or ability to stay in the business.
Family owners are generally local owners. They have a rooting interest in seeing their communities grow and prosper. They can make decisions that are right for the paper and right for the community, and they are not bound to boosting corporate profitability, rewarding institutional stockholders or impressing Wall Street analysts.
The Campbells have owned The Columbian since Herbert J. Campbell bought the paper in 1921. His sons, Don and Jack, became co-publishers in January 1962. Don handled the business side of things while Jack ran the newsroom.
Don’s son, Scott Campbell, has worked here basically all his life and has been publisher (the newspaper’s CEO) since August 1987.
Scott is still the publisher today. His wife, Jody Campbell, is our director of community partnerships. Their eldest son, Ben, has been here for eight years now, and is our circulation and marketing director. Now, Will becomes the fourth Campbell family member in the employee directory. (The fifth member of the family, Ross Campbell, is general manager of the Portland Pickles baseball club and isn’t involved in running The Columbian.)
The Campbells have put a lot of thought and effort into this transition. In a few years, when Scott and I are retired, I’m hoping Ben and Will are here, brothers working together to serve Southwest Washington like Don and Jack once did.