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Losing the lines

The managing editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Gary Graham, notes in his most recent blog post the issues and balancing act in deciding what to run, and how to play, news from two states when his newspaper circulates widely in both (Washington and Idaho).

The point struck a chord here, since we watch over a three-state area ourselves.

Graham: “For starters, we’ve been placing the coverage of the Moscow shootings on the front page each day in all of our Washington and Idaho editions. That’s been a no-brainer. Although the news happened in an Idaho community, it’s the kind of event that is certainly of interest and concern to people in Washington. Underscoring that point is the fact that the New York Times published staff-written coverage on the first two days, while CNN and the major broadcast news programs all carried brief coverage on Sunday.”

True; the Moscow shooting story was played substantially in many places, including southern Idaho and western Washington. (Less so, as it happens, in Oregon.)

Graham goes on: “However, there’s another story on the front page of all editions today that required a little more consideration in terms of its play. Our Idaho reporters have been covering a number of developments related to a big marina expansion in Bayview on Lake Pend Oreille. The developer’s actions have been very controversial and have raised a number of concerns by public officials, residents and environmentalists. At first blush, editors might wonder why our Washington readers would care about a development dispute in Idaho. But then all we have to do is remind ourselves that because the North Idaho is such a favorite home for recreation, it would be natural for folks in Washington to be interested in a development at a major lake.”

We’d agree with that news judgment. (And it draws our interest to the Bayview development, too.) But we’re more taken with the comment the post has drawn, one that sums up some of the rationale we have for our Northwest site:

“It’s unfortunate that for many years the S-R has been oblivious to the fact that the border between Idaho and Washington is strictly political. I always find it amusing that you publish stories that your editors believe are only of interest to Idaho readers in the Idaho edition and vice versa in Washington regional sections. Get a clue… This region is homogeneous. We recreate in North Idaho, Many of us work in Washington.. or Idaho. We all care about news in each area. Lose the devisive sections and you’ll save money on newsprint.”

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