Happy June, Columbia Gorge News readers! Here’s a column that I’ve been meaning to write since April. We’ve undergone a few staffing changes recently and will undergo a few more this month — which makes it a good time to go over bylines.
Bylines, for those not familiar with the term, are the namelines that indicate who has written a story that appears in our paper: For example, "By Trisha Walker." Underneath is the byline title — not always, but generally, and I’ll explain why in a minute — that indicates where the writer is associated. In my case, that would be Columbia Gorge News, as I am a full-time staff writer.
All of us who are part of the regular Columbia Gorge News staff have “Columbia Gorge News” under our bylines, so we are easy to pick out. Of course, you can also see our names in the staff box that always appears on A4 — our contact information is also listed for those wishing to comment on a story or suggest an idea.
Slight tangent: Send in your tips! We rely on those. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask me why one of our staff didn’t cover a particular event, and the answer is usually that we didn’t know about it. Mostly I think this is because we’re the news, right?, so people assume we magically know everything that’s going on. I am sorry to say this, but we are not magic. I know. I’m disappointed by that too.
Back on topic: Sometimes you will see the byline title, “For Columbia Gorge News.” This means content has come from one of our freelance writers. There has been some confusion on this, with people thinking the “For” indicates “paid content” — as in, commercially-produced.
We rely on freelancers because we are a small staff, but they operate in the same way we all do; that is, with the same journalistic principles. The only difference is that they are used on an as-needed basis. This comes in handy because we don’t have enough regular staff to attend all of the meetings or sports events occurring in our five-county readership area. Most of our freelancers live in the Gorge, as does all of our regular staff — and most of our freelancers have worked for Hood River News or The Dalles Chronicle in the past.
Sometimes, you’ll see “Staff report, Columbia Gorge News,” as the byline/byline title. This is used when multiple press releases are combined, or additional information is added to a press release. These reports don’t typically involve original reporting, but do reflect the input and judgment of staff to a degree that readers need to be aware of the full source of the story. Additional information is sometimes added at the end in italics to further explain sources and any staff member associated with contributing to the report.
Recently we’ve made an effort to identify where our press releases come from — who has written and submitted the content. Because this is a new policy, not all press releases have bylines and/or byline titles, but for those that submit regularly, we do make it a point. I estimate 99 percent of our press releases come from local agencies or groups wishing to promote an event or inform the wider community about the work they do. This is why you’ll see a “For Washington Gorge Action Programs” or “For Hood River County School District.” It’s another way we can clarify for our readers where the content is from.
There are some cases where you just see a byline and no byline title. These are generally on our reoccurring columns — for example, those written by our Lyle and Glenwood columnists. Contact information is included at the end of each column to identify them as such.
This also sometimes happens on content submitted for our opinion pages, such as "Another Voice" submissions: A byline identifies the writer, and a brief explanation at the end gives additional information regarding their association with the topic. Again, this is another way to clarify for our readers where our content comes from.
As I’m sure you have noticed, we are down a couple of staff writers, with both Emily Fitzgerald and Kirby Neumann-Rea leaving this year for new publications. It has taken us a while to replace them — housing is an issue local businesses struggle with when attempting to attract new hires, and we are no different. But we will have two new staff writers to introduce to you soon: Noah Noteboom, a 2021 graduate of University of Oregon (and a Hood River Valley High School graduate who previously interned at Hood River News), and Alana Lackner, a 2021 graduate of Washington State University. Both come to us with journalism backgrounds and have worked on their respective university newspapers while finishing their degrees. We will introduce them soon.
All right, that’s all I have to say, really, but LisaAnn Kawachi, our copyeditor, likes a clearcut ending, so I will at least try: Bylines and byline titles are used by newspapers to demystify where content comes from, be that from a staff writer or freelancer, columnist or agency. And if you have any further questions about content, you are always welcome to contact any of us for further clarification. (How’s that, LisaAnn?)