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Editors get earful from Trib readers

Tuesday night, as seven Tribune editors geared up for the paper's third Call the Editors night, I couldn't help but wonder whether the honeymoon might be over. The Trib began publishing in February 2001, and after 230-something issues, you know the novelty has worn off.

Two hours and about 40 callers later, I found out I was right É and wrong.

Dave Kern, editor of the Portland Life section, came up with the idea for Call the Editors a year ago, reasoning that the easiest way to find out what people think is to give them a chance to sound off. So Tuesday night, we opened the phone lines, inviting anyone with an idea or comment to reach out and touch us.

One might argue that our callers weren't typical Portlanders: These were avid and active readers who pride themselves on their knowledge of the world around them. And because of that, I found, Trib readers are holding us to increasingly higher standards every Tuesday and Friday.

Some of them we simply can't meet. Bob Lamb of Southeast Portland, for example, prefaced his remarks with, 'Congratulations on the great work you guys are doing.' Then, he offered a few suggestions, among them 'reporting on whatever happened to the McCain-Feingold Act.' Likewise, Tim Calvert of Sellwood asked that the Trib 'cover the media consolidation that is occurring in Portland and nationally a little more.' Paige Knight, who lives in Ladd's Addition, wanted us 'to do a big story and do updates' on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

While we appreciate the vote of confidence in our ability to tackle complex issues, the Tribune is, first and foremost, a city newspaper. When national issues affect the city, we'll be there. But the first place we look for stories is in Portland, not Washington state or Washington, D.C.

Other suggestions are more easily addressed:

• A couple of callers asked for more stories about pets and Multnomah County Animal Control; one of them, Roger Troen of Northeast Portland, said the Tribune could save the lives of many stray cats and dogs simply by giving the directions to the shelter. 'They always give their address as Columbia River Highway,' he said. 'It'd be easier if they just said, 'Drive out Halsey and turn left at 244th.' '

• Joseph Kelley, also of Northeast Portland, asked that we 'put something in there about the campaign for the three-year tax increase at one-and-a-quarter percent.' Have a look at the preceding page, Joseph.

• Don Chalmers of Gresham said we should take a look at 'why Portland is not friendly for the cruise ship industry.' Hawthorne district resident Mari Bertuccio suggested investigating why Portland's rental occupancy rates are so low while the rate of new construction continues apace.

Finally, a lot of people just called to thank us for showcasing the work of our talented staff, be it our photographers; columnists

Pete Schulberg, Anne Jaeger and Phil Stanford; or reporters Ben Jacklet and Jason Vondersmith. Several readers singled out the two writers for exemplary coverage of birds (Jacklet's story Tuesday on rivalry at the Audubon Society) and Ducks (Vondersmith's coverage of University of Oregon football and basketball).

To all of you who called, thanks. To those who'd like to, well, you know where to find us.

Roger Anthony is the editor of the Tribune; contact him at

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