We asked Spokane Redditors to ask us anything, here are some of our favorite questions.
Writing articles and doing journalism isn’t all we do on a weekly basis at RANGE. We’re also trying to reach our community in a bunch of different ways not usually employed by news outlets—whether it’s inviting readers out for beers and a chat or opening ourselves up on Reddit.
We asked Spokane Redditors to ask us anything about local news, politics and our journalistic philosophy and they delivered with some fantastic questions.
You can see all the questions, answers and discussions here, but we’ll highlight a few of our favorites.
“I’ll ask the obvious question….why? why does our area need another news source? What will your coverage focus be?”
We replied in part:
“Spokane is very lucky to have a robust local news ecosystem for a region our size, but we still see plenty of holes we want to help fill.
Our coverage isn’t daily news, so we’re not chasing cops and rewriting press releases. We’re focused on news that helps people understand our community better in order to participate in civic life, like with our explainer on the County Commission.
We believe that one of the reasons turnout is low in our elections and so few people take part in civic life — like attending council or commissioner meetings — is that government is a really opaque process. We want to help increase transparency and help people understand what doors to knock on and what levers they can pull to solve the problems they have in their lives.
Another big niche that we feel isn’t being served in Spokane is focusing on how policy impacts normal people.
For example, in our coverage of Camp Hope, we actually centered the people who live there rather than the focus basically every other local media outlet had placed on the story, which was the impact on local business owners. Carl, our reporter, spent a week out there during the heatwave just asking people what they needed to get by.
Our coverage changed the way other outlets covered Camp Hope, and within a day or two of us publishing our first story during the heatwave, the TV stations and the Spokesman had sent their folks to actually talk to people as well.
We don’t focus on breaking news, but our approach is already leading people to trust us with leaking documents that are important to our topic areas. That’s how we were able to break the story about the Mayor’s intention to tear down the cooling shelter.
Our real hope is to demonstrate a model of grassroots journalism that starts with the people most in need and uses their experiences to demand better of our leaders.
As for our coverage focus: Right now we have one full-time reporter (Carl) and he’s focused on pretty much everything. We’re hoping to grow into a large enough publication to have at least one reporter on each of these beats: Criminal Legal, Healthcare, Labor, Housing, Education, and Spanish-language translation and coverage.”
With the dichotomy of information we see today, why should anyone believe you’re impartial?
All three of us were fired up about this one, so here’s a few highlights from each of our answers.
Luke: “I don’t want you to think we’re impartial. I want you to think we’re fair.
After a week of reporting about Camp Hope, Carl got an opportunity to interview the Mayor and her communications director, Brian Coddington. He asked tough, fair questions and because he had previously also interviewed dozens of people living at Camp Hope, we were able to write a story that feels — to me anyway — extremely fair to both parties.
On the one hand, we have all of these perspectives of people living at the camp who are struggling to just survive, and on the other, you have the mayor telling us, openly, that she’s not even sure if she considers them constituents.
Ultimately that is a primary part of what we want to do here: bring the needs and perspectives of normal people into conversation with our city’s elites, and then let you decide if those elites are doing enough to help the rest of us.”
Val: “… Additionally, we’re worker-owned with the Spokane Workers Coop, so we’re not owned by a shady hedge fund or developers or billionaires and we don’t have to fight outside interests. Our funding comes from grants and membership dollars, so we’re not compromised there either.
But to be honest, no news outlet is completely impartial and the ones that claim they are are lying. Everyone, even journalists, has a point of view. The predominant measure of “objectivity” is usually from a white, male, middle class point of view and the default mode for journalists is to give those in power (ie law enforcement) far more weight—even when they demonstrate over and over that they don’t deserve it. We’re building an anti-racist, equity-minded, class-focused newsroom and we have and are going to continue to prioritize spotlighting the perspectives and expertise of members of marginalized communities.”
Carl: “I would say the goal isn’t objectivity, it’s fairness. That means representing people as they choose to represent themselves and not cherry-picking their quotes to paint them in a certain light. But, it also means not trafficking in lies, platforming hate or giving voice to unfounded accusations.”
How does this give us the tools to demand better? What can I do as an average Spokane citizen to make things better for myself and those in my community?
Val: “Demanding better of our leaders and elected officials requires knowledge. You can’t vote effectively if you don’t know what the office you’re voting for really does. You can’t speak up at city council, commission or school board meetings without knowing what they’re up to ahead of time and if what they’re doing is harmful. As the saying goes: “Information is power” and we want to put that power into the hands of regular people in our community.
Part of the reason we don’t and never will have a paywall is because we believe everyone should have access to the news and information that is required to participate in their community. Casting information as a luxury is a tool that keeps people down and uninformed.
What we can do as average Spokane citizens is: consume news critically and from multiple sources, use that information to speak up to our elected officials and get involved with our community outside of our immediate circles and comfort zones.”
Luke: “I honestly think just being a pain in the ass to the right people. And gathering as many of your friends and neighbors as possible who have the same needs or concerns and then putting your thumb in the right people’s eyes.
The part we want to help with at Range is that understanding of, “okay my problem is X … is that a city council thing? A county commission thing? A board of health thing?”
Probably the best example I can think of of a group of people rallying and forcing our leaders to rethink their votes was the police contract from June of 2020.
The contract the Woodward administration negotiated was bad on a number of levels but it specifically went against the wishes of the people to have an actual police ombudsman with teeth.
Spokane’s ostensibly progressive city council was going to pass the contract until a deluge of letters from normal people came in and they ended up voting against it 7-0 (even the conservatives voted no).
The contract that eventually passed wasn’t amazing by any means, but it demonstrates that, especially at the local level, legislators do listen to their constituents.”
Are hot dogs considered sandwiches? It’s meat in between bread.
This is a very important question that can reveal much about someone’s character.
Luke: “I’d say that, rather than trying to endlessly classify things, we should focus on what is universally beloved across cultures from Mexico to Hamburg to the parish of Sandwich to Greece (gyros), Turkey (donerkebab), Vietnam (Banh mi) and China (Bao): meat smashed between carbs, something that truly unites us all.”
There are many more (serious) questions and answers in the thread. Be sure to read them here.