Front Page: National Debate, Northwest Issues

Oct 5, 2012

This is Front Page, our new segment featuring conversations with journalists taking a closer look at the people, issues and events shaping lives across the Pacific Northwest. Today we’re visiting with the Spokesman Review. Here’s our news director John Paxson.

Paxson: The Spokesman-Review, based in Spokane, has been in print since 1894. It serves eastern Washington and northern Idaho and boasts the third largest readership in the state. Its editor is Gary Graham. Gary, welcome, and what’s on the Front Page?

Graham: As most everyone should know by now it’s prime election season. We have about five to six weeks to go.

Probably no surprise to most readers in America today, the Romney-Obama debate was our lead story as I would guess it was in many newspapers across the country.

Paxson: Is this in your view a more critical election than most?

Graham: That’s a good question and I hear the hyperbole a lot about, well, this is the most important election in 20 years or, you know, in modern history. I almost want to laugh at that because I truly believe that every election is important and we tend to want to add drama I think to the Democratic process and that’s fine but let’s not forget our history here.

Paxson: What in your view are the one or two central issues in this election—what are people, what are folks talking about?

Graham: It’s the economy, no question about that. You know the old political saw that voters vote their pocketbooks will be proven once again this year. On the state-wide issue particularly here in Washington it’s the economy, it’s education funding, it’s immigration. There’s just a lot of issues: state finances both in Idaho and Washington are important. Voters and residents are seeing governments cut back in spending and they’re seeing the impact in their local communities so I think that’s a big issue.

Paxson: Gary Graham, editor of the Spokesman Review, if you were to go into a café in downtown Spokane, if they aren’t talking about Obama and Romney, what are they talking about?

Graham: Well, one of the things I’ve heard about from a number of readers has to do with the climate and the wildfires in central Washington. We have a lot of people who travel back and forth to Seattle in our market and we often hear from them about what they went through and what they saw on the horizon. And we’ve had some of that smoke cloud our air here on two or three different days. Knock on wood we’ve not had a lot of huge forest fires but wildfires have been an issue and from what I’m seeing from the forecasters, there’s potential for much more yet this fall.

Paxson: Gary, thank you very much. We’ve been speaking with Gary Graham, the editor of the Spokesman Review.

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