Disappointed in changes but likes Valley Voice

Question: I consider myself a very faithful reader of the S-R. However I am somewhat disappointed at some of the changes you have made, namely:

1. You do not print a "Looking Back" photo on a daily basis as you used to. That is one of the first things I look for in the "IN" section. As a native of Spokane I really enjoy these old photos. They are our heritage, our history.

2. That Carolyn Hax is awful. I have tried to read her column but get lost in all her nonsensical jibberish. Too much fluff and not to the point.

3. You really blew it when you dropped the Parhana Club from the Sunday comics. It was funny which comics are supposed to be. "Opus" is not funny! Most of the Sunday comics are junk and again ARE NOT FUNNY.

I would not be fair to you if I didn"t give you a good stroke on the Valley Voice section of Thursday's edition. The profiles of people who have lives and recently passed on are really great. Please, please don't drop that.

I am doubtful that anything will change as the result of this short note, but I needed to let you know. -- Dick Castleman, Spokane Valley

Answer: First, the "Looking Back" photos have been printed on a space available basis for many, many years. As news space goes up and down, their frequency can vary. And because papers tend to be smaller early in the year, that's when space is most limited and frequency less reliable. We agree with you, the photos are important and they'll remain part of our lineup.

Second, we added Carolyn Hax (in rotation with "Annie's Mailbox") after Ann Landers died. "Annie's Mailbox" is written by Landers' former personal assistants and so is a lot like the old Landers column. Hax appeals to a much younger audience, has a looser writing style and a more contemporary frame of reference. In combination, I think they serve a large range of readers. I think one or the other really would disenfranchise on segment or the other. Personally, I find Hax tough to read. But she has her fans, too.

Third, I know we've taken a bit of heat on the "Piranha Club." The strip had its fans, but just too few to support its continued publication. "Opus," its replacement, is hugely popular right out of the box and it is only going to grow. Comics choices are among the hardest decisions we make -- it's just impossible to satisfy every need and interest. But we strive for a good mix that serves the largest number of readers possible.

We do take seriously the letters we receive from readers. Cumulatively, they can have an impact. And I always appreciate hearing from thoughtful readers who choose to spend their hard-earned money on our newspaper. Please write anytime. -- Steve Smith, editor

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