Editor Ken Vance shares Clark County Today’s legacy and mission, which he states is the ‘hill he is willing to die on’
I had a professional epiphany this past week. Before I share it with you, please indulge me by allowing the sharing of a memory to provide some context.
Some 25 to 30 years ago, I was a feisty, young conservative masquerading as a sportswriter for a daily newspaper here in Clark County. The leadership of that paper’s newsroom came up with a brilliant idea. Believing that each reporter in the newsroom needed to be able to cover any story on any given day, without any expertise I might add, they determined that each reporter from time to time would need to produce stories outside of their assigned beat or coverage area.
One of the projects that I pitched to the editor I was assigned to for this purpose was a story, or package of stories, addressing the sentiments of conservatives who felt underrepresented by the mainstream media. You might imagine how unpopular this idea was to my editor, who like most journalists, didn’t accept the premise of my story idea. But, I kind of had him between a rock and a hard place. They wanted to promote this concept of versatility throughout the newsroom, so my persistence in working on the project eventually led to his reluctant acceptance.
That editor, who I still like and respect very much to this day, is now retired. He would later tell a fellow colleague that the project was the most frustrating of his career to that point. I can tell you it was the most frustrating of my career, which has now spanned a total of 35 years. It took me six months to get him to publish the package, which featured three profiles of Clark County conservatives and a collective story about the original premise, or theme, that conservatives weren’t being treated fairly by news organizations, including the one I was working for at the time. The editor I was working with made me do more rewrites on that one package than I’ve done on the thousands of other stories I’ve produced in my journalism career combined. Eventually though, the stories made it to the pages of our Sunday section (no other day of the week offered the space for a package like that). The headline of the lead story was, “Conservatives Like Us.’’
I think back on the young reporter I was back then and laugh. As much as I felt that conservatives were underrepresented, or mistreated by the mainstream media back then, I could have never imagined the way it would be today.
Clark County Today to celebrate 6th anniversary
I’m reflective on this topic, in part, because later this month our small staff here at Clark County Today will celebrate the sixth anniversary since our launch in September of 2016. The existence of Clark County Today is that very theme I fought for those 25-30 years ago. The mainstream media just doesn’t represent those who think like I do. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. I’ve lived it for 35 years. I have enough evidence to fill 100 columns, not just this one. But, that is so yesterday’s news. The absolutely frightening reality is that underrepresentation has now grown to outright censorship and an absolute denial of freedom of speech.
To borrow the words used previously by a Clark County Today team member, this is the hill that I choose to die on – at least professionally.
In addition to the impetus provided by our upcoming anniversary, events of the last week also prompted the writing of this column. Clark County Today covered two events last week that were heavily partisan in nature. On Thursday, we covered the Patriots United Election Integrity and Transparency event in Vancouver. (The other was Friday’s Clark County Republican Women’s Auditor Forum.) Just because they were partisan in nature, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be covered by the media, but that sentiment is obviously not shared by everyone.
More than 500 Clark County residents paid to listen to three guest speakers share their thoughts on the theme of Thursday’s event. Clark County Today published a scene-setting story, based largely on the comments of Third Congressional District candidate Joe Kent at the event, and the story also introduced the three guest speakers and provided the individual videos of each speaker.
Since we posted that story, YouTube has since removed two of the three videos because it claimed they violated the company’s terms of service. YouTube also suspended Clark County Today for one week when it removed the first video. Thankfully, when this happens, we can still share the videos by hosting them on the Rumble platform.
It’s just the latest example of the censorship Clark County Today has had to endure in recent years. Earlier this year, we went through a 90-day suspension by Facebook. We have also faced regular written reprimands from Google. We are not alone, other websites we have partnered with on content have reported the same. I am not a flat-earth, out-of-my-mind extremist when I tell you the mainstream media, social media and Big Tech are overwhelmingly controlled by folks who don’t think like I do. But, more importantly, they don’t want folks like me to have a voice in the marketplace.
Last week, we published a story from the WND News Center about a MSNBC host who emphatically stated that the media needed to stop covering “both sides’’ of issues. It’s unfathomable to me that a member of the mainstream media would state that kind of bias openly, but I am thankful he did. It provides further proof that we’re not making this up. It’s ironic to me, however, that we have also published so many stories about things that were previously labeled as misinformation by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have now been proven to be factual.
For as long as we are able
I don’t know how long Clark County Today is going to be around. Hopefully, for as long as I am able to continue this journey. When we launched our news website, we knew from the beginning there was a chance we would be on a short-term contract, so to speak. You are well aware by now that over the past decade or more, newspapers have been folding at a prolific rate. The business model is broken. It’s virtually impossible to monetize a news organization with just advertising and subscriptions. As you know, we are not dependent on advertising revenue and we have never asked you for a subscription. If you publish content that is undesirable to those who hold this virtual monopoly on news and social media, then you have even fewer opportunities to be financially solvent. Let’s face it, news organizations like ours are a passion project for those who don’t want to live in a community with just one voice.
So, as long as we are able, Clark County Today will continue to publish content that the mainstream media, Big Tech and the majority of social media platforms won’t. We will continue to represent those with facts, ideas and opinions that others are fighting desperately to suppress.
An example of this in recent years is our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. I shared recently my personal experiences with the misinformation that the mainstream media, social media and Big Tech have force fed us and how it compares to the facts that have been proven over time. Some of our best content on the subject was the columns offered by Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler, who has nailed this issue from the very beginning. We have also had meaningful coverage of the homelessness issues here in Clark County and our coverage had a direct impact on the Leverich Park neighborhood and students and staff at Fort Vancouver High School. I am also proud that throughout the pandemic, we were the voice for those area residents who opposed vaccine mandates and other emergency order proclamations by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Thanks to our media partners at the Washington Policy Center, we have also been able to keep Clark County residents informed about efforts by the Democratic leaders in the state to implement a capital gains income tax and the ridiculous new long-term-care payroll tax. Clark County Today has also produced an impressive archive of stories digging deep into the issues surrounding the effort to spend $5 billion of your tax dollars to build a replacement for the Interstate Bridge, which will force light rail unwillingly on Southwest Washington residents, the majority of which have continually said we don’t want it.
So many of these stories that I have referenced, not to mention many others, would not have been published by anyone else had Clark County Today not been in existence. Events that we have covered would have been ignored if we weren’t there. Also, area residents know that they can pen a letter to the editor from time to time and we will publish it when others refuse.
All of this could not have been done without our wonderful team. In addition to myself and Heidi, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out our founder and owner David Madore, whose vision and commitment is responsible for all of our success. Also, we would never have launched this effort in the first place without our incredibly talented Graphic Designer/Webmaster Andi Schwartz, who keeps the website running with daily attention 365 days a year. Reporter Paul Valencia has been with us throughout the majority of our existence and he is beloved by so many in Clark County. Paul has shown tremendous versatility in recent years that has only enhanced his popularity and impact in the community.
So, call my epiphany an “It’s a Wonderful Life’’ moment. I believe we allowed Clark County residents the freedom to become who they were meant to be just as that “broken down old Building and Loan’’ provided for the residents of the fictional community of Bedford Falls.
We may not be the home for everybody, but I consistently hear from those who think like I do that ours is a worthy and noble cause. It’s quite simply, the professional hill I choose to die on.
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