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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Recalling names of SR features section

Before it was the Today section, it was IN Life.

What was it called before that?

SR: Fighting Obamacare Futile

Republican candidates in Idaho’s primary are being surveyed to gauge their fealty to the state GOP’s platform, which includes a call to repeal Obamacare and resist implementation. But party officials should take their cue from the realists among them. While they may not like the law, they see that the battle is over and further resistance is counterproductive. “It is the law, so I’m trying to work in that context,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told USA Today. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, pictured, told the S-R editorial board much the same on Thursday, saying the law is likely here to stay and the focus should be on reforming the exchanges to offer more choices and ensure that the newly covered can gain access to doctors. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who wisely refused to sign the loyalty oath, doesn’t like Obamacare either, but he knows when it’s time to stop debating and start governing. He has supported the state Legislature’s decision to establish its own exchange/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Do you suppose that all the uber-con GOP legislative candidates lined up to fight Obamacare in Idaho realize that their fight is futile — that they're just trying to score points with followers? Or do they really think they have a chance to torpedo the Supreme Court-approved law?

A few of my favorite Spokesman things

The Spokesman-Review has been printing the local news for 130 years, but in the past few years we've been able to stretch out a bit on the web with cool features that you can only find online at spokesman.com.

As the new guy here I'm still discovering different features of the site that I didn't know about, so I put together a list of a few of these features. Check them out:

Link: Letters

The Spokesman-Review prides itself on printing an exceptionally high amount of letters to the editor. Our letters page lets you read all of our most recently published letters and gives you a handy place to submit your own letter to the editor (sadly, not available via mobile. Yet.) Oh, and don't forget to read the Spokesman-Review's editorial pieces too.

Link: Then and Now

Francis and N Division

As someone with a deep love of history, I think my actual favorite feature of our site is the Then and Now section. It's hard to describe what Spokane looked like 25, 50 or 100 years ago, so why not let the photo archives of the Spokesman-Review do it for you? We have so many great photos of Spokane that our archives are a real treasure for the community.

Link: Twitter

You might be aware of us on Twitter as @spokesmanreview, but did you know we have a whole range of reporters, editors and generally good-natured newspaper folks who maintain active Twitter accounts? Check us out! As a side note, I need to figure out how to get my favorite account (@dangayle) listed on there.

Links: Feeds & Newsletters

If feed readers are your thing, we've sliced and diced spokesman.com into numerous different RSS feeds for you to consume. You can also subscribe to a custom email newsletter to get your news in your inbox. Follow stories by topic or check out our blogs, whichever way you want.

Link: e-Edition

Want to see the *actual* newspaper online, in its original paper presentation? Check out our e-edition, an alternate version of the Spokesman-Review online.

Links: Audio & Video

Admittedly, as a newspaper we don't do too much audio/video (it's a tad hard to print), but when we do, it goes here on spokesman.com.

Link: Soundslides

Speaking of audio, our Soundslides feature is criminally underutilized, but it makes for such great story telling that I have to include it here. The most recent soundslide has fantastic photography from Kathy Plonka along with audio of the septuagenarians in their own words. Speaking personally, would I normally spend much time reading a story about septuagenarians? No. But presented in this manner, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You will too.

Link: Data

At data.spokesman.com we try to put out information and data that might not otherwise be publicly accessible or useable. If you have ideas for a project, let us know.

Link: Today

Because the news is always flowing, sometimes it's a little hard to find an article that was in the print edition. That's where the Today feature on spokesman.com comes in handy. Every story and article that is published in the paper is organized into one easy to scan place. Everyone at the paper itself use this feature extensively.

That's all I have for now, but keep your eyes on this space. 2014 should introduce some new features to spokesman.com, some small and some big. Really big :)

Edit: Common Core Outcry Baseless

Obamacore. It’s not about health care. It’s a label applied by reactionary folks who oppose Common Core educational standards because the president supports them. Note the lack of rigor in that analysis. Though the process of states voluntarily adopting tougher standards in reading and math began in 2009, vocal opposition only recently arose. Fanned by the fevered preachings of broadcaster Glenn Beck and others, a conspiracy theory was hatched that Common Core was really a plot to:

  • A: Turn all kids into reliable liberals.
  • B: Collect detailed data on all children for use in future national or international plots.
  • C: Yank local control from education once and for all.
  • D: All of the above.

During the spring, campaigns sprouted around the country to stop Common Core. In April, the Republican National Committee officially condemned it with hyperbolic fervor. The timing of this protest couldn’t be worse/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.


SR: School Vote Was Good Sign

On Tuesday, North Idaho politics returns to full boil as the Coeur d’Alene City Council votes on a human rights ordinance that would bar discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We’ve endorsed the ordinance and are encouraged that it’s reached this point. Lake City residents might’ve thought things would simmer down after contentious campaigns for school and hospital boards culminated in a May 21 vote that repudiated the far-right’s push for partisanship in all areas of government. But it’s unlikely to cool off any time soon. Mayor Sandi Bloem has reiterated her decision to leave office, setting up a big battle to replace her. She told Dave Oliveria, of Huckleberries Online, she’s “tired of all this,” a reference to the failed recall bid against her and three council members and the amped-up battles over, well, everything. The battles themselves are part of a larger war for control of the Republican Party/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: How will the vote on the antidiscrimination ordinance come out Tuesday?

SR: Legalize Marijuana

States have always been the laboratories of democracy, but few have tried to legalize marijuana so it can be regulated and taxed. That’s because Congress adopted a law more than five decades ago that treats pot the same as heroin. The prohibition of marijuana has failed – just as the one on alcohol did – but it is swept up in the “war on drugs.” Marijuana use is widespread despite being driven underground. As with Prohibition, those making huge profits are gangsters who ruthlessly protect their turf. Gangsters in the 1930s were put out of business by legalizing the sale of alcohol. That can happen with marijuana, too/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Should this country legalize marijuana?

SR: Rightly, Lake City Recall Fails

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Council members Deanna Goodlander, Mike Kennedy and Woody McEvers will be keeping their seats until the next general election, a fact their constituents should stand up and applaud. Foes of the foursome failed to get the 4,300 signatures that would have put a recall measure before city voters on any of four dates prior to the next municipal election. Although they submitted what would normally be a comfortable surplus of signer ink, their effort failed when about 23 percent of the signatures were ruled invalid. The sad fact is many a passer-by is only too happy to scrawl their names on a petition, but heaven forbid they make the effort to register to vote. They might – OMG! – have to get out of their cars. But the bigger challenge was convincing a community that has come so far over the last 10 years that the individuals responsible for helping make it happen should be ousted for continuing to do what they have done so well: make Coeur d’Alene a small city with enviable business, residential, recreational and education resources/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here. (Jerome A. Pollos Coeur d'Alene Press file photo of Jennifer Drake, right, and Michael Sheneman outside City Hall April 5)


SR: Recall Targets Lake City Progress

If you haven’t been to Coeur d’Alene in a while, the transformation is remarkable: the mixed-use Riverstone development, the popular Kroc Community Center, a handsome new library, an array of higher education projects under way near North Idaho College and the Prairie Trail bicycle path. Downtown and Midtown boast many other improvements. The city has all the signs of a community with a plan, and the leadership to see it through. Next up is a redesigned and upgraded McEuen Park, which would give the city another enviable waterfront park. But what isn’t readily apparent to visitors is a political undertow that hopes to drag down progress by recalling Mayor Sandi Bloem (pictured) and three members of the City Council: Woody McEvers, Deanna Goodlander and Mike Kennedy. Their crimes? There isn’t one/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Quotable Quote: State Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, a longtime foe of urban renewal, once called the development of the Kroc Center a “criminal conspiracy.” She seethes at a recreational and arts facility that any community would love to have, because the city donated and prepared a former gravel pit as the site of this gleaming gift from philanthropist Joan Kroc.


Welcoming Rich Landers

So how do you welcome Spokesman-Review outdoors writer Rich Landers to his new spot in the newsroom? You use tape to put down an outline of a dead deer on the floor, of course. Someone who shall not be named took a little time out of his morning to put together this scene of outdoor mayhem.

Retirements hit SR Valley office

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Will the last person out the door please shut off the lights?

An era is ending this week at the Spokesman-Review's Valley Office as four longtime employees retire - Voices editor Jeff Jordan (39.5 years), sports writer Dave Trimmer (24 years), sports writer Steve Bergum (32 years) and photographer J. Bart Rayniak (33 years).

I'd be here all day if I tried to write about the contributions of all four of them, but I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the past by posting a slide show of several of Bart's photos from years gone by. I tried just searching for Bart's name in our in-house archive system and it choked, refusing to give me more than 500 results. But I was able to find a few gems in there.

Farewell, gentlemen, and good luck in your retirement.

SR introduces forkfly.com, relaunches spokane7.com

The Spokesman-Review Digital Product Development Team announced today the introduction of a new website, forkfly.com.

The Spokesman-Review also announced the re-launch of its entertainment website, spokane7.com.

Forkfly enables local businesses to offer consumers discounts and specials on online and mobile platforms through “real-time engagement.”

“Forkfly is a colorful, creative new product that marries customer loyalty to local businesses offering deals and specials. We are very excited to bring it to the Inland Northwest,” said Kathleen Coleman, Director of Digital Business Operations/Product Development at The Spokesman-Review.

Records Forum Cooperation Unique

A whopping 92 people attended the open government seminar in Coeur d'Alene last night, sponsored by IDOG, Idahoans for Openness in Government, and co-sponsored by the Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d'Alene Press. Press Managing Editor Mike Patrick told the crowd it was the first time he could remember the two competing newspapers co-sponsoring an event. Among those attending were numerous local government officials and staffers, reporters for a variety of news media, political activists, several former state legislators and lots of interested citizens. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden singled out an audience member, former state Rep. Gary Ingram (left in photo, huddling with Wasden), for special recognition: Ingram is the author of much of the Idaho Open Meeting Law/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: What other types of events would you like to see the Coeur d'Alene Press and Spokesman-Review jointly involved in?

Ex-SR Photographer Saw Gadhafi Body

Former Spokesman-Review photographer Holly Pickett was on the scene today in Libya when rebels killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. She saw Gadhafi's body. And has been documenting what happened to the fallen leader via Twitter. Latest two tweets: "Not sure where 's body went. It must have been to a very secure location. I think Misratans may have torn him to shreds." And: "I meant Misratans would tear him to shreds if the body wasn't closely guarded." You can follow her Twitter here (latest tweet on top).

Question: Can you imagine how courageous Holly is?

SR Staffers take buyout…

Good morning, Netizens…


[Taken from Huckleberries Online]


At Huckleberries request, SR Editor Gary Graham issued this statement re: 12 veteran newsroom staffers who opted to take an early retirement buyout recently: “It's no secret that we're losing 12 veteran, full-time journalists by the end of the year through an early retirement offer. Those who are leaving have played important roles in our journalism for many years and they will be greatly missed as colleagues and friends. The early retirement offer was only extended to employees who were at least 55 years old and had at least 20 years of service with the company. Those leaving include Steve Bergum, Rick Bonino, Jeff Jordan, Vince Grippi, Dave Trimmer, John Blanchette, John Craig, Kevin Graman, Bart Rayniak, Chris Anderson, Gil Hulse and Jim Kershner. I also want to note that some of the familiar names listed here will continue to write for us on a freelance basis.”


Good Lord, look at the array of talented journalists who are retiring!


Although you may recognize some of the names, I personally remember John Craig and Jim Kershner, both who have been writing since I first moved into the Spokane area over a decade ago. I distinctly remember a time many years ago when John Craig was the go-to person at the Spokesman for Stevens County news. Everything, from hellfire and dissension in Springdale's Council meetings, of which there were a lot back in those days, or even a homicide anywhere throughout Stevens County, John always managed to cover the news.


Perhaps that is why I was particularly distressed at reading how various unnamed members of the news media have sought to exploit the news of the early retirees for their own purposes. My only response to this is where were they when news from Stevens, Ferry or Pend O'Reille Counties took place? Do other members of the news media even have a daily column of the news from decades ago, such as Jim Kershner has done? Do the other news agencies even have such continuity?


I don't think so.


They appear to be attempting to suggest that the Spokesman-Review is doomed, that it is an endangered species. To that I say hogwash. However, we did lose a few friends due to retirement. I wish them all well.



Hey, I gotcher casserole right here

Here's a photo from The Spokesman-Review's Casserole Design Lab, circa 1890. Salt and butter were thought to be the way to a man's heart. And, of course, that turned out to be correct.  

SR photo 

Cowles Company Pension Plan Frozen

Cowles Company, which owns The Spokesman-Review, KHQ-TV, The Journal of Business and other businesses, announced Thursday that it will freeze the company’s pension plan effective Sept.  1. At the same time, Cowles will open its 401(k) match to all employees affected by the change. The transition affects about 473 employees, or 56 percent of the company’s eligible work force who were not included in a partial freeze three years ago. Their accrued pension benefit will be capped at present levels. “Revenue and profit predictability has diminished dramatically across all of our businesses in the last decade,” Cowles Company President Stacey Cowles said in a prepared statement/Tom Sowa, Office Hours. More here.

SR Opinion Editor Calling It Quits

On Thursday afternoon, after 42 years of newspapering for the Chronicle and The Spokesman- Review, I’m off to sample the pastures of retirement. Never one to recognize a good chance to shut up, I’m tempted here to retrace every miraculous technological twist along the road from hot-metal type to Twitter. I heard something like that once from my father, except it was about horse-drawn buggies and jet airliners. Every generation marvels at its own journey, I guess. ’Nuff said. The change that I find most striking, and scary, is not the technological advancement of the past four decades but the way it’s being used to poison the public conversation that sustains democracy/Doug Floyd, SR. More here.

Question: Are you a regular reader of newspaper editorial pages?

Gazette Raps SR For Police Stand

Under this year’s version of the proposed legislation, tribal cops would not be accountable to the sheriff n or any other elected official. Which is why the Spokane newspaper’s endorsement of this proposal is so mind-boggling. One would think the people who write editorials at the region’s dominant newspaper would understand better than anyone how critical it is that cops be accountable to voters. Cops and their misdeeds (perceived or real) have been the dominant story of the last five years in Spokane County/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette Record. More here.

Question: What do you think of the point made by Publisher Dan Hammes of the St. Maries newspaper that tribal police must be accountable to someone under a cross-deputization program?

SR Endorses Allred For Idaho Governor

Allred is an unconventional Democrat. He had no evident partisan affiliation before entering the gubernatorial contest, and when he did, he made it clear to party leaders that his alignment with them would be on his terms, not theirs. He has a doctorate in conflict resolution – not a bad calling in the world of politics – and taught it at Columbia University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As the founder and president of Common Interest, a public-issue citizen group, Allred understands the value of engaging the public in problem-solving and consensus-building efforts. Such an approach, which he has regularly practiced in Common Interest, won’t work magic, but it has a good chance to build badly needed public trust/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with this endorsement?

‘Sheriff Joe’ Arpaio Eyeballs SR

I finally got my hands on a photo of Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio eyeballing a copy of The Spokesman-Review the Oct. 5 morning after his speech to the Woman in Red banquet, sponsored by the Kootenai County Republican Women’s Federation. A Labrador supporter questioned my report later that week that Arpaio had given his candidate a lukewarm endorsement, stating at the breakfast: “I endorsed him?” I talked to two earwitnesses who heard the comment. Later, Arpaio pronounced himself solidly in Labrador’s camp on a radio talk show.

Question: OK, a couple of you have commented re: “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio’s obvious comb-over (which incidentally is a better topic than politics). Have you ever seen someone pull off a comb-over? What would you do if you were in the same circumstances re: thinning hair?

SR Endorses Walt Minnick

In the Year of the Tea Party, U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick represents the type of middle-course pragmatist who is supposed to be road kill in November. Plus, he’s a Democrat in Idaho. So why is he doing so well in his race for re-election? For starters, he is running on a conservative fiscal record at a time when the debt and deficit have become increasingly menacing. And when we say “conservative,” we mean the type who wants to balance budgets, not cling to blinkered notions of never raising taxes. Minnick represents the type of old-school fiscal sanity that can steer the nation out of a mess/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Agree? Disagree?

SR: Hart Panel Must Defend Credibility

Hart has battled both state and federal governments over his personal belief that income taxes are unconstitutional. Like uncounted tax protesters before him, he lost those skirmishes – and relied on his legislative privilege to prolong the time he had to appeal beyond the deadline set by law. He was not being harassed by the crown, or the governor, to interfere with his ability to do his legislative duty. While Hart’s tax clashes continue, the ethical questions surrounding his conduct are appropriately before the Ethics Committee. That bipartisan panel’s task is to defend the Legislature’s integrity and sustain the public’s confidence/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: What will the recommention by the House Ethics Committee say about the Idaho Legislature?

SR Audience Growth 4th Best In USA

After years of losing circulation and treading water, The Spokesman-Review has rebounded somewhat to land among the top 5 newspaper audience gainers (print and online circulation), according to the Growing Audience blog. In fact, the SR is No. 4 w/a 10.4% growth from March 31, 2009 through March 31 of this year. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City leads the pack with 22.25% growth. This, according to an analysis of the most recently released ABC FAS-FAX data by the Newspaper Association of America (which) identified the 25 newspapers with the largest increases in combined print and online readership. … To make the list requires some success in both print and online. A closer look at the numbers generally reveals that almost all of these newspapers had at least modest gains in daily and Sunday print readership and substanital increases in online readership. You can read the Growing Circulation report here.

Question: And you were about to shovel dirt over us?

Brent: Papers Give Away Too Much

Brent Andrews: Call me a curmudgeon if you will, but I’d go a step further and say Hucks should not be free, either. To me “free” means dead, for the old newspaper. If the S-R has made any real profits off its Web enterprise - now, what, a decade or more old? - I’d be shocked. Think of all the money that has gone into this, that could have been spent on writers and a thicker print product that everyone has to have. That does not even address the cost to corporations of the new FB addiction raging in everyone from gradeschoolers to grandmas but seemingly more widespread among young adults who are ditching work and family to check and post. We were addicted enough to the Internet already, before FB came along as the new AOL.

Question: Do you waste time looking at Facebook and corresponding w/Facebook friends while at work? C’mon. Be truthful.

A Great One has fallen…

Good morning, Netizens…

Allison Stacey Cowles, activist, and matriarch of the family that owns the Spokesman-Review, died Sunday morning at the age of 75 of pancreatic cancer. Allison Cowles lived in Spokane for 36 years, and raised two children, (William) Stacey Cowles and Elizabeth A. (Betsy) Cowles who rose to become President and Chairwoman respectively of the Cowles Publishing Company in their adulthood.

A full history of her long and illustrious life was written by Jim Kershner at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/25/allison-cowles-dies-75/, and of her marriages to William H. Cowles III and in 1996 William (Punch) Sulzberger.

She was a gracious, dominant social and political leader in Spokane, and the number of contributions she gave to Spokane are incredible and lengthy.

I only met Allison Cowles once in passing in my life, and she formed a vivid image that has lasted all these years. She shined a beacon of goodness and light into life, and should always be remembered with gentle prayers and and kindest thoughts. Rest in peace, Allison.


Gold, Frankincense, a Watch?

So, I’m wondering what kind of gift the SR will be giving DFO for his 25 years of faithful service.

  • A sliver pocket watch
  • A goat
  • A year’s subscription to the CDA Press

Care to venture a guess?

Oregon student newspaper goes on strike at hiring of former S-R editor Steve Smith as publisher…

(This has nothing to do with politics or the legislature, but Smith is a well-known civic figure in Spokane. I suspect this will be of interest.)


The staff of the University of Oregon’s student newspaper, the Daily Emerald, went on strike four hours ago at the prospect of a new organizational structure headed by Steve Smith, who until a few months ago was the top editor of the Spokesman-Review. Smith this morning said he was stunned at the fracas, and has withdrawn his acceptance of the newspaper’s offer to be publisher.

Shortly after leaving the Spokesman, Smith was recruited as a consultant to draft a plan for the financially-struggling daily. His report recommended hiring a publisher, who would supervise the paper’s student editor. According to this lengthy article in the paper, the paper’s board initially planned a nationwide search, then decided to take up Smith on his offer to work for a year, at $80,000, as publisher. Smith also planned to teach at the school.

The paper’s editors protested, saying the Emerald can’t afford that salary, and they didn’t want the independent paper answering to Smith at work or in class. They said Smith may be the best person for the job, but that there should be national search.

The board offered Smith the job, which he accepted.

From the paper’s student editor, Ashley Chase:

The board chose to hire a candidate without performing even the most basic hiring protocol; there was no job interview, no references were contacted and, most appalling of all considering the Emerald’s financial state, there was no negotiation of the candidate’s salary proposal. The most powerful position this organization has seen in its 109 years of publication is set to be filled by a person who wrote his own contract and job description, which takes occupational liberties that are far out of line with the Emerald’s guiding values and ethics.

The paper’s staff went on strike, and are publishing an alternative publication online here.

Smith, in a response posted on his personal blog this morning, says that he supported a national search and that “my career path, such as it is, doesn’t include a long-term stay at the Emerald.” He said the news staff’s objections took him totally by surprise last night. Wrote Smith:

No one from the Emerald news staff took the time to talk to me. I was not called for comment by the editors before they wrote their story for this morning’s paper.

He said he thought he had a good relationship with Chase, the editor, and that his only goal was to help the paper through it’s financial crisis. Smith continues:

But I have been too close for too long with the Emerald and its fine student journalists to go to war with them now over this. So I withdrew from the fray this morning. It’s best the board and the students take a deep breath, then sit down and try to figure out how to move forward. I will continue to offer whatever support is considered appropriate by all involved.

Welcome to the beta

If you’re reading this, well, you found us. We’re doing some internal testing this week on the new Spokesman.com, and should be ready to go public by next week. We’re well aware that no redesign is going to make everyone happy, but, if you’ll indulge, let me talk a bit about our process and goals.

The flagship site of a publication like The Spokesman-Review has to do a little bit of everything because, frankly, a huge portion of our readership expects it. People come to us for a ton of different things - from breaking news to sports recaps to crossword puzzles to calendars - and each person expects to be able to find what they’re looking for on our website. Over time, our original news site (spokesmanreview.com) added features and content areas we never anticipated. Many of these things were difficult to support with that site’s underlying technology, and many things we wanted to do were simply impossible. So what you see here isn’t a simple cosmetic redesign; it’s a complete overhaul of our web technology - from the servers to the database to the framework we’re building on.

We chose all these things because they give us a flexible platform that helps us build new things quickly. Yes, we need a flagship site with a little bit of everything, but we also want to give you smaller, more focused sites that inform our community, and help people who live here interact with each other. Sites that focus on one thing, and do it really well. That’s a *huge* part of where we need to go, but we have to have the basic building blocks in place first.

You’ll find plenty of signs of this philosophical shift as you spend some time here. Goal No. 1 was to clean things up and make the site easy to use, and the top-level navigation reflects a pretty fundamental move in that direction. Our print newspaper is organized into sections, which works great if you’re getting your information once a day. But that’s not the way people look for information online; hence the structure here, according to what content’s about, when it happened, where it happened, and what kind of media it needs. Ideally, this answers all the ways our readers might be looking for information. And it *should* be fairly seamless to switch between those systems of browsing - check out one of the day pages (here’s the Today page), click on the calendar icon to browse to any day in our archive, toggle among different media types, click on an item to view it, click on that item’s tags to see related content, and so on. We’re really hopeful that we’ve made navigation - and exploration - a LOT easier.

We’re also making multimedia much more visible. We’ve been producing amazing videos and photos for a long time, but our old website didn’t make them particularly easy to find. New sections on this site will help you browse the latest and best multimedia stories, no matter when you come looking. The cleaner design also makes the advertising that supports our site more visible and better-looking. It will help us integrate our news site with our jobs, homes and cars sites - no matter what you’re looking for, we want to help you find the most locally relevant information there is.

And we’re providing a lot more metadata about everything we publish. Tagging is the most obvious example (although the “Places” section is going to have some awesome geographical capabilities before long), and is the kind of thing that lets us power a bunch of cool stuff. Pages that quickly pull together content based on a topic (try everything tagged “Christmas”) are the simple stuff. There’s a lot more.

Here’s one of my favorite things: the Live Stream. It’s a tumblelog, if you’re familiar with those - a page that collects all the activity on the site, mixing in stories, multimedia, reader comments, everything. How’s it related to tagging? Well, in our database, each of those items in the live stream gets the same tags as the content it’s linking to. And that means that on my profile page I can “tag myself” with my favorite topics, and get a personalized news stream right there, filtering for exactly the type of content I’m interested in.

As we finish migrating from Spokesmanreview.com, features like these will only get more valuable. For now, anything you don’t find on the new site will still be accessible on the old site; we’ll run both in parallel for a while. And we have a ton more features planned. The framework we’re building on will let us start rolling out specialized sites, too - Down To Earth, for example — focused on local people, places and topics. Spokesman.com is the first step, and we know there will be bugs to work out and adjustments to be made.

So please, tell us what you think! Sign up for a site account and leave a comment, or shoot me an email. And we’ll use this space to talk with all of you about how we can do things better.