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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Evening Reverie June 30, 2008

Good evening, everyone...

Do you read the Crosscut web site? Each morning, long before most “normal” people are even stirring, I am hunched in my bathrobe absorbing the news from a considerable number of different sources, including Spokane-centric news resources. Moreover, by the time most people have had their morning coffee I have read or replied to as many as 50 e-mail messages, and alarmingly, a great number of them seem to think the Spokesman-Review is a claptrap assembly of marginal news editors and reporters. So, in my evening reverie, I decided this evening to see what one critical news resource in the Seattle area had to say about how the Spokesman-Review Online is doing at their job.

First, let us examine the thinly-veiled allegations that the SR is falling behind in the race for Web domination online. There is hardly a newspaper in the Pacific Northwest that doesn't offer at least part of its daily print newspaper online. Some provide outstanding, well-written articles and pictures, while others are sadly falling behind the times. I frequently read/store or use articles from both Seattle papers during the course of my morning ritual, as well as stories posted overnight here in Spokane.

Read what someone else in a world-recognized position to recognize the status and quality of the Spokesman-Review online had to say about it:

While you are at it you might also read as well. It's a bit longer but contains some real meat about how the SR Online actually works.

The Editor of Crosscut goes on to say at length:

So what are the barriers to excellence? They are substantial. A reader commented that newspapers shouldn't charge for online news because the overhead is so much lower than that of a printed edition, which eats up a lot of material and involves lots of big machines and people to produce and distribute the product. This is true to a point, but as Spokane's Smith said, there are still very high costs related to creating the content, and if you can't raise enough revenue to do that, what's the point?
There's another expense that people give short shrift, and that's the cost of programming. Believe it or not, just about every newspaper or newspaper chain creates, or at least greatly customizes, its own software to present content on the Web. There are very few turnkey software solutions out there that do everything a newspaper needs to do online, fewer still that can handle the volume of data a daily newspaper handles, and integrating the various best solutions to specific tasks is unbelievably time-consuming, and time is money. It's as though everybody had to design and build their own printing press.

Offhand, when two separate critical sources have recently reviewed the performance/under-performance of many major Pacific Northwest Online news sources, and both of them had strongly-worded and glowing terms for the SR, I am astounded that the critics of the SR missed this vital piece of the picture.

We are at or near the top of the pile when it comes to innovation!


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.