‘Spokesman-Review’ Faces Challenges

By: Joe Strupp

Long recognized as one of the best midsize newspapers in the nation, The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., faces a major challenge in the coming months: putting out a quality newspaper with 15% fewer editorial employees and the loss of its editor of nearly 20 years, Chris Peck.

“It’s a heavy hit,” said Publisher William Stacey Cowles, whose family has owned the 105,911-weekday-circulation paper (103,105 under former Audit Bureau of Circulations rules) for four generations. “But we’re left still with a hugely talented pool of journalists.”

Cowles said he hadn’t determined who would replace Peck, who has been editor since 1982. He said he would look internally and externally for candidates: “We’re going to try not to make a big, dramatic change in … direction. But we will focus more on our core [news] product, with cuts in features and photo staff.”

Peck announced his resignation, effective Dec. 14, on Nov. 12. He made it clear that the recent layoff of 25 editorial employees was among the reasons. “I felt it did change the nature of the operation here,” Peck, 51, told E&P. “I’ve always prospered by building and stretching the envelope, and it’s harder to do that with fewer people.” He noted that the paper had closed one of its six bureaus and reduced another to part-time staffing.

Peck said he eventually would seek an editor’s post somewhere else, possibly at The Riverton (Wyo.) Ranger, a 6,884-circulation daily owned by his father, Robert A. Peck.

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