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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Editor & Publisher: Spokesman-Review one of 10 newspapers that ‘do it right’

Ticket holders line up outside the Bing Theater before hearing author Tara Westover talk about her memoir, "Educated," which chronicles life growing up off the grid in Idaho, during a Northwest Book Club in May 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
From staff reports

Editor & Publisher magazine has named The Spokesman-Review one of “10 Newspapers That Do It Right,” citing the growth of the newspaper’s popular Northwest Passages Book Club and Community Forum.

The magazine said it looked for innovative revenue strategies, impactful journalism and creative audience growth when selecting newspapers for E&P’s annual feature about media game changers.

“There are some bright spots in our industry and they’re all worth celebrating,” writes Nu Yang, managing editor of Editor & Publisher.

In the March issue, E&P highlights The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages forum, which produces monthly “Common Read” events and invites readers to join storytelling evenings with leading authors, innovators and newsmakers.

In the past year, Northwest Passages has hosted community discussions with bestselling authors such as Tara Westover (“Educated”); Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Saslow (“Rising Out of Hatred”) and Spokane novelist Jess Walter (“Beautiful Ruins”). E&P cited a sold-out November event with travel author and TV host Rick Steves (“Travel as a Political Act”) that drew 750 readers to the Bing Crosby Theater.

Northwest Passages does more than book talks. Other community events included a July town hall with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who announced his presidential run on Friday, and a televised September forum with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and challenger Lisa Brown in the hotly contested 5th Congressional District race. In December book club readers were treated to a four-course feast prepared live in Instant Pots by “Top Chef” contestant Chad White and bestselling cookbook author Laurel Randolph.

“Northwest Passages has changed our relationship with our readers on so many levels, not only making our journalism much more experiential, but also helping both our community and our newsroom better understand the importance of a local newspaper, especially now,” said Spokesman-Review Editor Rob Curley.

The Spokesman-Review partners with local libraries, nonprofits and colleges for forums such as a May 6 event with presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham (“Soul of America”) co-hosted with Whitworth University. At the same time, the newspaper keeps general admission prices and student tickets affordable so that anyone who wants to attend can join the conversation, said Spokesman-Review Senior Editor Donna Wares, director of Northwest Passages.

“We are building something special in the Pacific Northwest and the reader response has been overwhelming,” Wares said. “Whoever heard of 700 people turning out for a book club night? But that’s what’s happening here.”