Inconsistent coverage

Question: About a year ago, a group of Spokane-area scientists and lay people with scientific interests were forming up a group with an interest in exposing superstitious thinking for what it is. Doug Clark came to the third meeting and, of course, satirized the whole group, thus smearing its reputation and purposes before it could even get off the ground. The science group received no other coverage than that. Then, a couple of months ago, a new religious group was forming up, and they got complete coverage with a front page photo. Is there some reason why The Spokesman-Review frequently covers religious groups so fully and completely but only satirizes a scientific group and gives it no front page photo? -- George Thomas, Spokane

Answer: News coverage decisions are judgment calls made by editors attempting to balance the competing issues of time, space, staff and perceived community interest/significance. Over time, the net effect of good decision-making should be a sense that the newspaper has authentically reflected the life of our communities...the hopes, dreams, triumphs, tragedies, work life, home life, church life, business life, etc., of the citizens we serve.

An authentic representation of community life must include, over time, representation of non-religious citizens just as it must represent the lives of the religious. I don't recall why we chose not to cover the formation of the group mentioned by the writer. It almost certainly deserved some coverage beyond a Doug Clark column. Whether it belonged on Page 1 or not is another issue and is almost entirely dependent on the run of news on any given day. -- Steve Smith, editor

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