Our News Bureau in SW Washington
In response to growing needs, OPB has developed a news bureau in southwest Washington, with the goal of promoting informed dialogue on issues important to the region. From our office in downtown Vancouver, reporter / producer Conrad Wilson leads the bureau's reporting.
Wilson is an accomplished journalist, having covered politics in Washington, DC and the environment in the Rocky Mountains. His reports have aired on shows like Marketplace, NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered and Only A Game, and he's written for BusinessWeek, The Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and more. You can find a list of stories he has filed for OPB here.
The bureau aims to better engage urban and rural citizens in the important issues faced by the entire region, and enhance OPB’s capacity to tell the region’s most important stories. Rather than dispatching reporters from Portland, the local bureau allows correspondents to develop more meaningful community connections, and more intimate knowledge of local issues. This will include a focus on cross‐border issues, news from Clark County and surrounding counties, and important developments at the state legislature in Olympia.
With support from over 300 contributors, OPB has completed fundraising to support the bureau’s first three years of operations. OPB received a generous lead gift from the Firstenburg Family Foundation, and lead supporters—Paul and Debbie Speer, Jan and Steve Oliva, and The Wollenberg Foundation—committed $150,000 in matching funds to encourage broad participation from the community.
Meeting Growing Needs
"This project will provide needed reporting and insight into emerging issues—especially important issues that straddle the border between Oregon and Washington.”
Washington and Oregon share the Columbia River, the Cascades, and countless other natural and cultural touchstones. OPB has long reported on southwest Washington, documenting the many issues that tie the two states. With a new bureau in southwest Washington, OPB aims to provide valuable public service journalism, and better engage citizens in important shared issues. A number of factors shaped our decision:
- Over the last decade, print and broadcast media organizations have scaled back their newsrooms and distribution networks, leading to diminished sources of trusted, information‐rich local news and analysis.
- Cutbacks have resulted in reduced reporting on regional, statewide, and rural subjects that can be expensive to cover.
- OPB is uniquely positioned to expand trustworthy, collaborative reporting on issues important to citizens in southwest Washington and beyond.
Regional and National Impact
The bureau's full‐time multimedia reporter will create regular radio and online stories, and in‐depth online components, ranging from audio slideshows to video clips. The reporter’s stories will contribute to long‐form features and support other properties, such as our weekday radio conversation, Think Out Loud. Stories will be shared with public radio stations across the Pacific Northwest, and with the PBS NewsHour and NPR when a story is of national significance.
This project is part of OPB's larger effort to improve sources of high‐quality public service journalism, bridge rural and urban communities, and help citizens across the region better address important issues. This initiative comes at a watershed moment for OPB’s news service. Since 1997, the size of our newsroom has increased more than three‐fold, and OPB has become a trusted primary newsgathering organization. Since 2008, OPB has established regional news bureaus in central and southern Oregon, which are now a vital part of our news operation and provide valuable insight into local community concerns.
To maximize the impact of the bureau, OPB will work in partnership with other news organizations. OPB is the hub of the Northwest News Partnership—a new network of more than 40 newspapers and media organizations across the Pacific Northwest which includes The Columbian and other local outlets. The southwest Washington bureau's reporting will be shared across this network, reaching hundreds of thousands more citizens across our region and beyond. This collaborative approach helps extend the reach of the bureau and maximizes the value of this new service.
OPB’s television, radio, and online services reach around 150,000 residents each week in Clark County, Wash., alone, representing 13 percent of OPB’s total audience. Many more use our services in other counties, and OPB operates translators in communities such as Gray’s River, and Longview. Of OPB’s 119,000 contributing members, approximately 10 percent reside in Washington.