Put reviews back in IN Life section
Question: About a year ago or so ago, the S-R stopped printing theater, music, dance and other performing arts reviews in the IN Life section and apparently started printing them in the "zoned" news sections (Handle, Valley, etc.). We in North Idaho, us "Handle" folks, now do not get reviews of shows, symphony concerts, etc., that take place in Spokane.
And since the only performing arts organization that is regularly reviewed by the S-R is our professional summer stock company, the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, we Idahoans are now getting no reviews of anything for nine months out of the year. Who made this decision? Believe it or not, many of your North Idaho subscribers are intested in regional culture, and many of us regularly attend performing arts events at The Met, the Opera House, Interplayers, Spokane Civic, CenterStage, and all the other venues in your fair city. What gives? An answer would be appreciated, and I'm sure an apology is in order for all the performing arts organizations in Spokane who are no doubt losing business because we are not as informed as we should be about their offerings. -- Jim Speirs, Coeur d'Alene
Answer: We used to run reviews in IN Life, but because of our deadlines, they often appeared several days after an event. Shortly after Steve Smith came here, he asked that reviews run in the next day's paper whenever possible. As a result, they started running in the local news sections, since those have "live" deadlines. The Idaho problem is that since these generally are evening events, the reviews aren't done in time for Idaho edition deadlines. They are supposed to be picked up for Idaho editions the following day (two days after the event), but that often is overlooked for some reason. I used to get calls from Idaho readers about missing out on symphony reviews, and I talked to our copy desk about it and thought it was working better these days, but apparently not, given your e-mail. -- Rick Bonino, arts and entertainment editor
Update: Thank you for your reply. The new policy still doesn't make any sense. On "one night" events (most concerts and symphony performances), it doesn't really matter whether the review comes out the next day, three days later, or the following week. From the point of view of the performing organization, it wouldn't help their box office anyway and all this does is entirely eliminate the coverage they deserve (and potential future audience). In the case of theater reviews, most shows run for two or more weekends and again, it doesn't matter that the review comes out a few days after the opening. What matters is that it is not being read at all and these organizations lose audience, coverage, etc. for the rest of their run. -- Jim Speirs, Coeur d'Alene