Why so much bus reporting and bias?

Question: I've read several of the online stories concerning the STA and I've sent feedback that has met all of the criteria required by The Spokesman-Review. My feedback contains no obscenities, nor libelous statements, etc. However, since the person writing these articles is very pro STA, my feedback is virtually never published. I have been convinced for years that the S-R is a biased paper with the full interntion of shaping and swaying the way people think, and behaviors like I just described only solidify my position.

There are numerous topics where the S-R is clearly biased on a position. Support/lack of support for the mayor, the parking garage, the president (what party he's in does make a difference), schools, are just a few topics to which the S-R expresses their preferences. Sometimes it's blatant, sometimes it's subtle. This is harly decent reporting; why not just report the facts, all of them, and no holding back, and let the readers decide for themselves? I would like to know who reviews online reader feedback and makes the decision to post or to not post the feedback.

Also, we've heard all about the STA for months now and the same topics concerning the STA are being repeated in the paper. It's time to move on to more important news and such. But since the S-R, and in particular, one reporter are pro bus, I suppose we can look forward seeing the same subjects repeated over and over in a desparate attempt to sway the voters into buying into it. We voted NO on it and that should be enough. Please drop the subject and find some new news. -- Bill Anderson

Answer (part 1): I checked our list of replies submitted to stories online, and quickly found this comment and this comment from you about the most recent STA stories. I can't trace what may have happened in the more distant past. However, Larry Reisnouer, who checks over the story replies daily to make sure they fit simple criteria, says he doesn't recognize your e-mail address or remember deleting any comments about STA. In fact, Larry doesn't edit for content. He just tries to make sure replies are not libelous or obscene or over the 250-word limit. Reporters have no connection to the comments that are posted about their stories online. -- Ken Sands, managing editor of online and new media

Answer (part 2): I'm sorry the writer feels we've reported too much on the STA budget/service issue. However, in our view, this issue is one of the most important facing our community and extensive coverage is demanded. Readers can expect far more in the next few months. I suggest the writer skip those stories if he finds them unimportant. Are we pro-bus? Well, I'm not sure what it means to be pro-bus. But we do believe that citizens are best served when they have the information they need to make informed decisions. If citizens understand the ramifications of STA service cuts and decide they can live with them, so be it.

As to overall news bias, the writer repeats the same old cliche. But in my experience the perception of bias begins with the observer's own prejudices. The pro-administration factions in our area are convinced we're Bush bashers and anti-war activists. The anti-Bush factions are convinced we're Republican mouthpieces. We take heat from both sides. Now, I don't believe that constant, simultaneous criticism from right and left is proof per se of our objectivity. But I do think it illustrates how difficult it is to please everyone all the time. The Spokesman-Review news staff works as hard as any in my experience to cover the news objectively. Our staff is as culturally and politically diverse as the community it serves. Our internal debates mirror those in society. That's the best check on biased reporting.

As to printing just the facts...it is pretty silly to think that there is something like a list of "just the facts" for any story. Too often, one person's facts are the next person's lies. People who see the world in such black and white terms are, at least, awfully naive. -- Steve Smith, editor

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