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Readers give editors earful of praise, gripes

If one message came through loud and clear during our second 'Call the Editors' night, it was this: A newspaper is many things to many people.

Eight Tribune editors, writers and photographers took calls from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. More than 90 people took us up on our invitation to sound off that night, and another two dozen or so followed through Wednesday morning with calls and voice mails.

In the year and a half since we launched the Portland Tribune, readers have come to depend on us for lots of different reasons. Most of those who called in Tuesday night let us know they were pleased with the paper. But they weren't shy about letting us know how we could do better.

Here's a sampling of what callers told us ÑÊand, where appropriate, some explanation and response:

'Good work'

nÊ'I've liked your paper from the start, especially the in-depth reporting,' said Jan Wolfe of Northeast Portland's Cully neighborhood. 'The stories you've done lately, on Oregon City and the police surveillance, have been great.'

nÊ'I like the way you did the Enron-PGE thing, and the purchase offer by Northwest Natural,' Robert Taylor of east Multnomah County told us. 'You did the research; you let readers know about the problems with these companies. And us ratepayers were more informed.'

• 'I especially like the articles on Memorial Coliseum,' Marilyn MacGavin of Sandy said. 'I also like the Winter Hawks coverage!'

• 'I like Portland Life and Anne Jaeger's gardening columns,' Beaverton's Inez Henneman told us. 'Sometimes I get annoyed with Phil (Stanford), but I like him.'

• Other readers singled out favorites such as the Hocus Focus puzzle, the Tribune's 'excellent' photography, the Cue section, the crossword puzzle, the political cartoons, the Safeway ads and the fact that the Trib has 'very few grammatical errors.'

'Why don't you do a story on ÉÊ?'

• 'I'd love to see broader coverage of land use issues and campaign-finance reform,' Cynthia Eardley of Southwest Portland suggested.

• 'A Portland singles column would be good, too,' offered Camille Drobut of Raleigh Hills. 'More than 50 percent of the population here is single.'

• A number of callers, among them Kathryn Holenstein of Southeast Portland, urged us to write about a universal health care initiative and the petition drive aimed at putting it on the ballot.

'I like your paper, but É '

• 'What I don't like is É the photography department,' complained downtown resident Linda Sejfulla. 'It seems to go down the path of showing a lot of T&A. That's geared to grab readers' attention. Don't use women's bodies that way.'

• 'Why don't you do editorials?' asked Charles Sauvie of Laurelhurst. (Our policy thus far has been to find writers who can argue Portland issues from different perspectives and allow them to state their cases in 'My View' essays published on the Insight pages.)

• 'I miss the TV listings,' lamented Margaret Hays, a resident of Southeast Portland. (We dropped the listing due to space considerations.)

• 'I don't even read Sports, but it annoys me that it's upside down,' said Tigard's Tara Harper. (Portland Life and Sports share a section on Tuesday. By running the sports coverage upside down and starting it on the back page, readers can more easily find sports news when they leaf through the paper.)

Perhaps the kindest words of all came from Jim Phillips, a Southwest Portland resident who picked up the Tribune only because it was delivered to his driveway. 'It seemed like a nuisance at first,' he said. But he acknowledged we've won him over; his attitude, he told us, has gone from 'Why are you publishing it?' to 'Where can I find it?'

Roger Anthony is editor of the Tribune. Contact him by e-mail at ranthony@ portlandtribune.com or by phone at

503-226-6397.