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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Looking in vain for big stories

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Question: Here are a few issues I see seldom (or never) in The Spokesman-Review but which are, I believe, due more coverage (pro and con, although I think you’ve definitely given more coverage on the con side):

1. The U.N. Oil for Food scandal. Given that it involves several parties (U.N., France, Russia, Germany, even journalists) that opposed our entry into Iraq, isn’t it worth investigating potential conflicts of interest, particularly when those that opposed the war suggest the U.N. is the best option for stabilizing Iraq. I can’t help but believe that if the scandal involved, say, Bush administration officials who might have accepted money to advance the war effort, the S-R would be giving it continuous front-page treatment.

2. The remarks by a captured al Qaeda official that our response in Afghanistan prevented already planned attacks on other American cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles.

3. Links between terrorists and Saddam.

4. WMDs. Why nothing about how Sudan is ordering Syria to remove chemical weapons from Sudan, weapons which are believed to be in excess of what Syria could have produced on their own? Why didn’t the recent statement by the Canadian prime minister (that he believes Iraq had WMDs and dispersed them prior to and during our invasion of Iraq) make the front page?

All of these are widely covered by various blogs. Yes, blogs can be quite opinionated, but I find it odd when I see things widely blogged (or even on more ‘respected’ pages such as the Wall Street Journal Online) that don’t even merit a mention in the S-R. Failure to cover these issues only damages the credibility of the S-R, given that this information is widely available elsewhere. — Roger Benedict

Answer: We hear from readers from time to time about specific national and international stories that they are interested in reading about. We receive literally hundreds of stories each day from the Associated Press and other news services, so the choices we make regarding which stories to publish are often quite difficult.

Most of our resources and news space are devoted to news and information about the Spokane region and North Idaho, so we are quite limited in the amount of space given to international news. Our editors review many of the international stories each day and try to select the most important ones for publication. The ongoing story in Iraq is so multi-faceted and fluid that we have a huge challenge each day in trying to determine the most significant developments. Regrettably, stories that you mention, such as the oil for food scandal, the developments in the Sudan and the Canadian prime minister’s comments, are often overshadowed by the more dramatic developments and conflicts in Iraq.

Tad Brooks, an assistant news editor who regularly monitors the national and foreign news, shares your frustration in not being able to provide readers a wider variety of important stories. He reviewed our archives and found that our most recent story on the oil for food issue appeared in the March 31 newspaper. He also said we carried a story a couple of months ago about how the U.S. response in Afghanistan thwarted already planned attacks in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles. As for Sudan ordering Syria to remove chemical weapons from Sudan, Brooks said he was unaware of that story.

We will continue to monitor world events and we’ll look for ways to publish stories about the important developments you mentioned. Brooks also suggests that you can augment your reading of The Spokesman-Review by visiting our Web site, which has links to the comprehensive Associated Press daily report.

We understand that readers won’t always agree with the decisions we make on which stories to publish. Our first mission is to cover local news. At the same time, we do know readers expect us to provide them an intelligent selection of the most important stories of the day from around the world. — Gary Graham, managing editor

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