Why so much local news on Page 1?

Question: We want to know why, for the past several days, the front page has been filled with mostly local news, i.e., one or two national/international spots and the rest local stories). We thought the Regional section was for local/regional stories.

We look to the front page for just a clue on what's happening on the international and national front. Since your change of placement of stories, we have to search through the first section to get the information that was formerly available at first glance.

After contacting one of your representatives we were told that "we're a local paper." Then we were told that the front page is for the top five or so stories that they were working on. Come on, "WSU stops accepting Applications", one of the top stories available?

If you're going to put local news where international news used to be, why stop there? Just think, you could do away with separate sections. There could be Regional, national, international and Sports all condensed into one section!

We have been subscribers for the past 25 years and will have to keep subscribing. You have the only game in town and we do like the paper. Hopefully the front page will resume having the news we're used to again. -- Dave Christiansen and Jane Kennedy, Elk, Wash.

Answer: Our main focus is on local and regional news. We cover news, sports, business and features in the Spokane and North Idaho area because thatís where our readers live, work and play. Our readership surveys consistently show us that readers rank local news as their No. 1 interest and they expect us to provide extensive local coverage.

Now, we also feel it is important to provide readers with a healthy amount of national and international stories. I would argue that we provide more national and international news than your letter acknowledges. We do in fact place many important national and international stories on the front page each and every day. We devote several news columns inside the first section each day to coverage of the national and international scene. Frankly, it has become increasingly more difficult for us to compete with all the sources for 24-hour coverage of national news on television or the Web.

We acknowledge that papers such as the New York Times and USA Today provide more national news than we do, but when is the last time you saw a story about Spokane, North Idaho or even Washington state in either one of those publications? Our local report is what distinguishes us from any other paper that is available in our circulation area. Our reporting is thorough, wide ranging and sophisticated. We donít ignore the major developments on the national or international front, but weíll always give local news the home field advantage when it comes to story selection, story placement and staff resources. -- Gary Graham, managing editor

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