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From the Newsroom: Election coverage will look different

I don’t know about you, but 2020 has probably been the most disorienting year of my life. The days seem to drag on forever, but the weeks fly by.

And, now, suddenly we are trying to figure out how to cover the primary election, only — gasp — nine days from now.

A few things are obvious: First, with our current work-from-home model, there will be no election night pizza in the newsroom. And second, with no public gatherings, there will be none of the usual photo opportunities at the Public Service Center.

We will try to focus our coverage on the major races, which are surprisingly few considering the county’s sample ballot is six pages long. (Because you live in some districts but not in others, your ballot will be shorter, but we are looking at all of the races.)

Some of the races that will be big in the general election will not be as emphasized in our primary election coverage. For example, in November I expect a good race between Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and second-time challenger Democrat Carolyn Long. But I don’t expect a tight primary race. None of the three other candidates in the primary are expected to come close to defeating Herrera Beutler or Long.

Also, we aren’t planning to write stories about the “beauty contests,” where there are only two candidates in a partisan race and thus both automatically advance to the general election. We will post the results of those races on our website, however. Remember, if you are a print subscriber, you have free unlimited access to our website and all of our other online products, including this helpful page:

As usual, on election night we will try to have a story online within a few minutes of the first results being released. That will probably be around 8:30 p.m. I’ll write that initial story so our reporters have more time to call candidates and write more comprehensive stories for the Wednesday print edition.

Because of the way Washington counts ballots, more results will be released on Wednesday and Thursday. Sometimes these later counts reverse the election night results; it will be interesting to see if that happens this time. Either way we will follow up and let you know.

Comings and goings

Farewell to “Stone Soup,” which has been part of our Sunday comics lineup since 2014. The artist, Jan Eliot, is retiring Sunday after 30 years and opted to retire her strip at the same time.

Taking its place will be “Pearls Before Swine,” which we have been running weekdays for the last five years. We didn’t have a spot for the Sunday “Pearls” until now, so this should please fans of that strip.

A second programming note comes from Features Editor Erin Middlewood, who has recruited the Clark County Historical Society’s editor, Martin Middlewood, to curate our historical photo feature and write a little more about each one. I don’t know about you, but I often look at those photos and wonder if there isn’t more to the story. Martin is in a position to find that out and let us all know. Look for his first column, about Vancouver’s most famous tree that didn’t bear apples, on Sunday. Amy Libby, our web editor, says she will post Martin’s columns on our website, so online readers can enjoy them too.

By the way, Martin Middlewood is Erin Middlewood’s father. At The Columbian, we have at least a short history of editors with family members who write for the newspaper: My wife, Sandra Brown, used to write a weekly column for the Food section. She’s retired from the Washington State University Extension faculty now, but you’ll still see her byline on some of our weekly Market Fresh Finds columns, as she continues to volunteer with the WSU Master Food Preservers. I like to joke that I cook more than she does, but she gets more stories in the newspaper.


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