Spokesman-Review Censors Blog, Removes Post That Had Negative Comments

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., runs a blog that discusses sports in the region. The have entries for the Washington State Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Eastern Washington Eagles, Spokane Chiefs, and local high school sports. It is called Sportslink.
Last week prior to the University of Idaho/Boise State men’s basketball game, after not having any posts about the Idaho Vandals for some time, writer Greg Lee responded to a comment in the post describing the Vandals previous game. The comment was wondering what had happened to the Vandal coverage.

His response:

But the S-R won’t be staffing every home game, either. We’ll be there tonight for the home conference opener and I’ll be there Saturday when Boise State is in town. Beyond that, the Vandals will have to earn their coverage. Idaho, after all, was 4-27 overall and 1-15 in conference a year ago.

For the major regional newspaper in the area to not cover a school because they are not playing well is absurd. Yeah they are not doing well. They are playing better, but not great. But you don’t decide not to cover them because their games don’t count or matter.

This generated a firestorm and a lot of comments about this. Most, if not all, were negative. But none of the comments used bad language, they were just critical of the Spokesman-Review and their editorial decisions.

When you put up a blog and open posts to comments, you need to be prepared for the online discussion to follow, whether it is positive or negative. You handle the individual incidents when people try and attack other posters, but otherwise you leave it open to praise and criticism.

Well the Spokesman-Review did not like the comments that they were seeing on their blog and deleted the post. This is the worst thing they could have done and it was totally wrong to do that. No where on their blog or other blogs do they define the rules of community behavior and how they are going to respond to violations of those rules.

If you want to have more viewers to your site and foster a good online discussion, then you need to leave it up. Was it wrong for reporter Greg Lee to say that? Yes it was. But it happened. Leave it up and take the medicine. But don’t delete the post.

This used to be a good blog. I am a University of Idaho alum who lives out-of-state. It is hard to keep up with what is going on in the athletic program living this far away. This blog used to provide me that coverage and insight that I sought. But not anymore.

The Spokesman-Review was a good newspaper, but is declining fast. They are not adapting to the new newspaper business model well. They are cutting staff and for some reason they are stuck in the dark ages by requiring a paid subscription to read the online content.

When I lived in the area, I liked reading the Spokesman-Review. It had good information and good coverage of all the issues in the Inland Empire. But not anymore. If I were to move back, I would look to subscribe to another newspaper.

The Spokesman-Review needs to revamp and revolutionize how it covers the Inland Empire area and how they run the business side of their newspaper. If they don’t, then they won’t be around for long.

2 thoughts on “Spokesman-Review Censors Blog, Removes Post That Had Negative Comments

  1. Geoff H

    You’re spot on with your remaks. The SR must adjust to the changing landscape of the industry. If you’re going to host a blog, do it with credibility. Removing posts for political reasons does nothing to enhance your readership. Everyone makes mistakes and statements they wish they hadn’t, but few have the liberty to erase that snapshot in time. Get real. And, you’re comment about the paper’s “pay for play” format (must subscribe to access the content) fell by the wayside years ago. You’re pushing away the very people you want to view your news, opinions, positions, etc. I’d expect more from a regional paper. Welcome to the 21st century of journalism. Get on board and ride the bus.

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  2. I received the following response to an email that I sent to the editors regarding the removal of the blog post. I found it to be a fair response.
    Peter,
    I apologize for the post being removed. The writer removed it because of what HE wrote and not because of the comments. I told him it was the wrong thing to say and didn’t reflect our policy. He realized that and just dumped it. He would have been better off just posting another comment correcting our stand. Anyway, it wasn’t pulled because of the negative comments. Those come with the territory.
    Just so you know, we have scaled back on the Vandals, mainly due to budget concerns. However, if for some reason the interest in the Vandals skyrocketed (regardless of wins or losses), we would amp up our coverage. Our job as a sports section is the reflect the interest of our readers. That’s not an exact science, but it’s pretty clear the interest in the Vandals has gone down. If tomorrow, the Vandals drew 10,000 folks to a game and the Cougars drew 2,000, we would have to re-evaluate our coverage. Obviously there are people still VERY interested in the Vandals. I understand that and we will try to keep up with what’s happening in Moscow. We will be at every home game.
    Regards,
    Joe Palmquist
    Sports Editor
    The Spokesman-Review

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