From the press room: what does the future hold for the news?

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When two editors get together for coffee, there are a lot of good conversations. Needless to say, when I met my old boss and current friend Lou Brancaccio at the local Starbucks this week, we solved all of the journalism issues in an hour.

Well, some of them, at least.

If I remember correctly, Lou and I both came to the Columbian full-time in 1999. He was the new editor, and I was a temporary economics reporter, who later became a permanent one. We didn’t have too many interactions for the first few months, until he decided to create a standalone business section and appointed me editor. Looking back, it was perhaps the best job I’ve ever had, with the perfect combination of writing, editing, and the freedom to try new things. Thanks, Lou!

Later, after accepting a commercial reporting job at the Oregonian that I didn’t like so well, Lou helped me again. He hired me back to be the editor of the Columbian subway, responsible for most of the local reporters. I have been doing this job for a long, long time. Finally, I took over the top job when he retired as editor in February 2017. In other words, Lou has been better for my career than I have ever been.

It was therefore a pleasure to see him and talk about the shop for an hour. We both strongly believe in community news. We believe there will be a place for a long time to come, even though it is mostly published online rather than in print. But we do not agree on certain details.

For example, will there be full-time reporters in the future, or will everyone be independent? Take taxis. Ten years ago, if you needed a ride to the airport, you could call a taxi company or a shuttle service, and their employee would drive you. These days, you use your smartphone to summon a Lyft or an Uber, and an independent contractor picks you up in their own private vehicle.


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