The Spokesman-Review : interns

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Shefali: International News in a Local Paper

It's a double edge sword. When a paper like the Spokesman Review puts international news on their front page-there's one of two reactions: either we are applauded for keeping international news (like the War in Iraq or the Lebanon Conflict) on the front page-open and out there. Or we are criticized for printing hard reminders about the war and not enough local coverage.

I was talking to a housemate of mine who said he read the paper and was tired of seeing stories about the War in Iraq and stories on the Lebanon Conflict. But it was frustrating because what he meant by 'reading the paper' was that he read all of the A-section. That's about it. It was hard to argue with him because we were speaking two different languages. Part of the problem with journalism I see these days (and I’m no expert) is that reporters tend to assume that our readers are a certain type of reader--when they aren't.

Perhaps we assume readers read the entire paper-we cater to the audience that sits in the metro car or at the breakfast table with the paper wide open scanning anything and everything. We aim to please in the newspaper industry and I don't see that as a problem--it's when we are so detached from our 'customers' that I get a bit scared. Are we trying to put out a paper that suite us...or them? We assume that people know to look in the B-Section for local news. We assume they know to read the whole story to get the whole story--but do our readers know what an inverted pyramid is?

I told my housemate this dilemma. I told him that the Spokesman never claims that it's a source for international news--but we print what we feel is significant. I got to tip my hat to the newspaper I interned at for nearly 10 weeks. The Spokesman knows that it's a watchdog tool for the community but what good is a watchdog if it doesn't know who it's watching. This newspaper certainly takes it's time to get to know readers and listens to them--it's a hard thing to do. Not everyone has nice things to say about the paper. But my hope is that those who critique the paper still respect us as a publication for listening.


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