The Guardian apologizes to Spokane after article portrays city in negative light

Riverfront Park on a sunny day in Spokane, Washington.

“Dear Spokane, Washington. The Guardian owes you an apology.”

That’s the first line of an article published by The Guardian following backlash to a piece earlier this week that led to a “wave of criticism.”

Spokane residents took to social media to speak up against former Spokane resident Cody Delistraty who wrote an article titled, “How Gonzaga became the central hope for the struggling city of Spokane.” In it, he appeared to believe anyone who lives in Spokane relies purely on Gonzaga University’s success in the NCAA tournament to bring them any hope in what he referred to as a “dangerous” city.

But residents were quick to defend their home city. #CodyComeHome even started trending as Spokanites invited the author to return to the city and see what’s changed.

The story gained local and national coverage by journalists at The InlanderThe News TribunePoynterQ13 News and others.

The Guardian on Thursday changed its tone — with an article titled “In praise of Spokane, Washington: home of the Zags — and much more besides.”

“Cody’s essay was intended to reflect on the success of Gonzaga’s basketball team in their post-industrial surroundings, drawing on his own experience in the place he calls home. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit the right note, and it caused a storm among Spokanites.”

The Guardian US editors went on to offer a mea culpa:

“We ran the piece, we’re responsible for it, and we accept the criticism. Cody wrote it well, and in good faith, and he made some strong judgments, and we liked it, so we lightly edited it and published it. We didn’t expect the storm of criticism, but, looking back, we should have been more judicious in our editing, headline and presentation. We made some factual errors in the piece, but it was perhaps a question of tone: it was never our intention to mock or sneer, and for that we’re sorry.

However, the piece brought Spokane into focus. Its publication prompted some anger and indignation on social media, but there was plenty good-natured ribbing, too – and savvy Spokanites coined the hashtag #CodyComeHome to point out all their town has to offer.”

So we leave you with a few examples posted on social media of places in the city – besides Gonzaga – that bring hope.

Cody, will you come home?