I want you to be fair and balanced

Question: I have been a Spokesman-Review subscriber for many years. It is becoming more doubtful if I will continue to be for much longer. I am extremely concerned with the far-left liberal direction your paper is going. Do not try to insult my intelligence that this is not the case. Your selections of articles from papers like the New York Times etc., reflect the liberal selectiveness of your paper. Headlines used for articles are written to emphasize the good of liberals or negative of conservatives, especially our President. Your editorial page is almost totally liberal, including that almost every cartoon puts down the conservatives and our President. No doubt you and your staff are gearing up for the elections. It gets old. Are any of your editors conservative?

On a different subject, as you are aware that our relations with Canada, European and Scandinavia countries are not the best. Having been born and raised in Canada, I know that Canadians in general and specifically the current Liberal government are far left. I believe that most European and Scandinavia are also very liberal, far left countries. My point is that it is no wonder that these countries hate our conservative government and President Bush (the exception, thank goodness, is Tony Blair) and do all that they can to not cooperate with us, especially France. I know this for a fact about Canada, but am unsure about other countries. My question to you, is how much of a factor is this in the current international politics. I would like a "fair and balanced" answer. -- Roy Tiefisher, Coeur d'Alene

Answer: Our goal each day is to present a fair, accurate and comprehensive report on local, national and world events. As you know, we rely on a variety of news services for our national and international news coverage. On any given day, you'll see that we use stories from the Knight Ridder News Service, the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service, Newhouse News Service and Gannett News Service. However, the majority of our national and foreign coverage is provided by Associated Press, which is the most-widely used news service in the United States. We recently discontinued use of the New York Times news service, primarily due to budget constraints.

I would respectfully disagree with what you describe as our "far-left liberal direction," but I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree on that point. Doug Floyd, our editorial page editor, believes we achieve a pretty good conservative-liberal balance with respect to columnists. We're about to add Thomas Sowell to the mix, by the way.

But it's harder to answer the criticism regarding cartoonists. Doug says most editorial page editors around the country agree, regardless of their own ideologies, that there aren't a lot of good conservative cartoonists available. One -- Michael Ramirez of the Los Angeles Times -- we run frequently, and we look for individual cartoons that take a more conservative-friendly approach. But at the end of the day, there are more liberal-leaning cartoons than conservative ones. It's the nature of cartoonists to lampoon, however, so it's typical that the tilt of the cartooning world is more likely to be away from whoever is occupying the White House.

As for your point on international politics, I'll have to defer to the foreign policy experts. -- Gary Graham, managing editor

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