No need to question our integrity
Those of you who know me know that I am a stand-up guy. I will always explain the decisions we make with our coverage, either in e-mail or on the phone. From time to time, I’ll write an explanation on the blog or in my column on how things transpired from our office.
We appreciate feedback and we have no problems with questioning our decisions. We can either back them up, or we are big enough to acknowledge we missed something.
I, however, will not stand for having my integrity questioned. Having people disagree with me is part of the job. But to question my integrity is going over the top. And I will make a stand, with the facts, of course.
So here were a few anonymous quotes from people claiming to be Camas fans. (Of course, they are anonymous, so I am not sure.)
“Once again, this is just The Columbian hating on Camas and refusing to give them the respect they deserve. I am getting really tired of his. The Columbian needs to get things straight and stop slighting one of the schools it is supposed to be covering. Every time the Columbian does something like this, it just looks worse and worse in the public eye.”
Or this one:
“Typical Columbian reporting, or should I say the Skyview Gazette.”
Now the facts.
Camas was a part of two features during “preview” week for high school football, including the center piece of the 3A GSHL preview, with a full story on Camas and pictures of Logan Grindy, Addison Owen, and Odin Coe. I went to Camas’ practice three times the previous week to get the interviews.
For Week 1, Camas got the center piece photo for a Sunday section. The day after the college football season started, we went with Camas’ win in Seattle as our main story of the day.
For Week 2, Camas was once again the main story and photo for the high school coverage, a league win over Mountain View.
For Week 3, we featured the new Doc Harris Stadium in Friday morning’s paper. (Oh, and a little background information on that story: We “hate” Camas so much that when the Camas administration asked us to do something for them regarding that story, the editors decided to honor that request. I will allow the Camas administration to explain to you what exactly happened, but the e-mail we received thanked us for our professionalism in handling a delicate situation. And we had every right to decline the request.)
Also in Week 3, we decided to go with Skyview-Heritage for our top game of the week because we already had Camas the previous two weeks, and just did the Friday morning feature on Camas’ stadium. Turns out, the Camas game was a blowout, and the Skyview-Heritage game went into OT. (And the Camas game still was on the sports cover.)
So then comes Week 4. Our “crime,” I guess, is we did not pick Camas in the staff predictions. Oh, the humanity. We vote on our picks, and it was a split decision. I will acknowledge that I went with Skyview. No, not because I’m anti-Camas, but because I saw how Camas responded to its Week 2 game with a monster Week 3. Well, Skyview struggled, by its standards, in Week 3, and I figured the Storm would bounce back. Two solid teams, close to equal, I made a pick. You could also say I like going with the “upset” from time to time. I could certainly make the case that Camas is better, on paper, but the Papermakers are not unbeatable. Their coaches would tell you that.
Those of you who have read me for years understand I hate our predictions. But I also have bosses who love them. I have always feared that the players would be mad and take it out on the reporters if they did not like the predictions.
I have some good news, though. In the four years we’ve been running predictions, not one player has been rude enough to question a reporter’s integrity. Oh sure, a few times we get good-natured ribbing, but that’s the fun of sports.
Only the fans seem to think a simple prediction that does not go their way is an affront to society.
So after the game, we get this comment:
“Columbian probably crying because their home team got thumped.”
Any reader outside of Camas might think Camas is the team that is getting all of the ink. Just think of it: If you go back to preview week, that’s five weeks of high school football coverage: Camas has had the main preview story for its league, and then the main game story in three of the four weeks. And in the week that Camas was not the game of the week, the game was still on our cover AND we featured Camas’ stadium the previous day.
Goodness, it looks like we better STOP covering Camas.
(Well, that’s not going to happen, because we do cover the good teams, the teams that have the potential to go all the way to December.)
One more thing about this alleged hatred of Camas that we have: Last year, after Camas lost a 17-point lead with nine minutes to go in Week 9 against Union, I told my editors that to preview the playoffs, we had to feature Camas.
Not Union, the team that just won its second consecutive 3A GSHL crown. Not Skyview, the team that had just won its second consecutive 4A GSHL crown. But Camas, the team that lost. Why? Because I was so impressed with the character of that team, how they handled the loss, how they had to re-focus for another quality opponent. And for the class in which Jon Eagle displayed in defeat. That was a great football game, regardless of the outcome, and it was a great lesson in life. I wanted to tell that story to our readers.
Now, in going back through the first four weeks of this season, it hit me that there is one team that might be wondering where the coverage is. You see, last year, most of us could agree, Union, Skyview, and Camas were the best teams in the region. It appears that could be true this year, as well.
Well, Union has not had the top billing in a game this year. Union has not had a feature (although one will be coming during league play). I even explained to coach Cale Piland at the beginning of the year that we were going with Skyview to preview the 4A GSHL, and based on the schedule, it might take some time for Union to be “the game.”
Week 1, we went with Camas instead of Union. Week 2, Union had a Saturday afternoon game. We covered it, but it was “inside” the section. Week 3, on the road in Oregon to a game we did not staff. Week 4, we were there, but it was a blowout and it was a very small story, inside, with all the stats. The Titans don’t play a league game until Week 6.
We can’t make everyone happy all the time. Generally, we can defend our coverage. But to be called the “home” paper of one of the schools, well, those are fighting words in our business. We’re far from perfect, but we do not root for one Clark County team over another.