How do I get you to write a feature article?

Question: I have contacted your paper by email, letter, phone message and an actual conversation with someone regarding a possible feature article on a "hero" in the Spokane community. My first attempts to communicate with several feature writers and editors were totally ignored. No email replies, no return phone calls.

So often the media focuses on stories of tragedies. Featuring "elders" has many positive aspects to it. One being that they can tell many stories about the landmarks and the history of Spokane. -- Nancy Colburn Schilling, Spokane

Answer: I am sorry the correspondent was not contacted following each of her contacts with us. She should have received call backs or return e-mails even though our editors felt they had already responded to her request. This community, like any other, is chock full of people who have led interesting, even inspiring lives. Absent some compelling news reason, most of them never are subjects of news reports, in print or on televsion. As much as we wish we could do stories on all of them, the fact is we can't. I believe that is the point the editor referenced in the question was trying to make.

A newspaper's first responsibility is to report the news of a community. News is commonly determined by factors such as importance, timeliness, proximity (is it local?), impact and so on. While we occasionally have the opportunity to tell a good story for no other reasons than the fact it is good, we don't have those opportunities that often. We know that manty people believe the news media, including our newspaper, spends too much time and space on "negative" stories. I believe a consistent reading of the paper belies that notion. I often suggest people take a month's worth of papers and red pencil all positive stories they encounter. They'll be amazed at the number of such stories they initially missed because their attention was drawn to more traditional news content. -- Steve Smith, editor

Useful links
About Steve Smith
About Gary Graham
About Ken Sands
About Doug Floyd
About Carla Savalli