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Bomb Garden 

by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Darker Tower & r & & r & Here at The Inlander, we sometimes refer to the Spokesman-Review as "the Dark Tower," half because the physical edifice looks like a red brick penis and half because years of off-the-record grumblings suggest it's not a very fun place to work. Those grumblings spilled out onto the record last week as the company announced that about 25 writers and editors would be losing their jobs and several employees began blogging and Facebooking their dissatisfaction with the situation (and also having a legendary drunk at Far West).

The loss of these voices, including the bulk of the Spokesman's entertainment tabloid 7, isn't just a blow to a maligned, controversial media company. It severely cripples media diversity in the region, nowhere more -- given the shape of the layoffs -- than in arts writing.

Because the cuts started at the bottom of the seniority ladder and went up, the cuts disproportionately fall on the younger (and to my mind, more innovative) journalists.

A week after music writer Isamu Jordan and photographer Rajah Bose compiled a great bit of multimedia culture reporting on Tambourine Man (scooping my own planned tribute, I note through gritted teeth), Bose is out of a job and Jordan's job (according to friends) hangs by a thread. Food and drink writer Tom Bowers has announced his intention to pack up for the great hipster ghetto of Portland.

It's an interesting regional irony that, although Craigslist, blogs and the Internet in general are cited as the source of the traditional daily paper's current troubles, the Inland Northwest has a relatively anemic online presence. The number of Spokane lifestyle blogs pales in comparison to other towns, even per capita. As traditional media sources go away, they're not being replaced locally by new media outlets. On the music-writing front, losing Sidekick last year was rough; losing 7 would be far worse. And we're losing blogs too: MetroSpokane just kicked it. Rewi & amp; Stephen are still churning out Spokane-based self-love, so at least there's that.

The situation creates a media vacuum at the oddest time. Spokane's become as noteworthy as it's been in decades (dare I say it, since a certain event of some local esteem that happened in 1974). Now there's almost pretty much only the Inlander left to talk about it.
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