Front Page: Signs of the Times

Sep 14, 2012

As we continue to expand our regional news coverage here on Northwest Public Radio, we are pleased to offer a new segment. In conversations with editors, reporters and others covering the news, we’ll be taking a closer look at the people, issues and events shaping lives across the Pacific Northwest. We call it Front Page. Here’s our news director John Paxson with this week’s featured publication, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Paxson: The Daily News is an independent family- and employee-owned publication. Under several names, it has been in continuous publication for one hundred and one years. Our guest today is Lee Rozen, managing editor of the newspaper. Lee, welcome, and what’s making the front page?

Rozen: Here in Moscow we’ve had several stories about concerns over animated signs, or as they call them “dynamic display signs.” We have a retail stretch of highway that has two or three of these signs on it now and the city fathers and planners are very concerned that suddenly we’re going to see a large number of animated signs, very distracting to drivers.

Paxson: They’re like very big TV screens, almost?

Rozen: Right. The concern is that images that will be on there can move and flash and blink and do all sorts of things while you’re trying to concentrate on that car ahead of you or end up not concentrating on that car or pedestrian in a crosswalk.

So the city council has decided to put in an emergency ordinance limiting what these signs can do and how big they can be. There’s a 14 foot by 14 foot sign on one of the biggest retailers in town that they put up. It cost them about $150,000 and the day after that went up the planning commissioners said “whoa” what’s this and went to look at the law, the city ordinances, and said well there’s nothing in there about how to regulate an animated sign.

Paxson: Interesting. And obviously as this phenomenon spreads it will be an issue for other towns and cities.

Rozen: I think so. Any town that has a retail strip that they don’t see themselves as a mini Las Vegas is going to be concerned about this.

Paxson: Our guest today has been Lee Rozen, managing editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, talking about what’s on the Front Page.