Did You Know There Was An Idaho Statesman Website Archive?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

UPDATE: 9/15/14: An astute commenter on Sisyphus Facebook page added this: "According to a friend who inquired of the Statesman, articles over a year old are archived in a pay-to-view system, accessible by hovering over the search field and then clicking on "Search Print Archives." After doing so, a search for "Tom Luna" (minus the quotes) yields only 26 matches, but displays them on a page at nl.newsbank.com. A new search on that page yields 1300+ articles, including those from between 2007 and 2013.

So, no scandal, just another example of the Statesman making itself irrelevant."

Where;s Tom Luna?

We believe that we live in the 'age of information,' that there has been an information 'explosion,' an information 'revolution.' While in a certain narrow sense that is the case, in many more important ways just the opposite is true. We also live at a moment of deep ignorance, when vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach. An unenlightenment. An age of missing information. - Bill McKibben, author of The Age of Missing Information.

It is the age old question: Scandal? ... or just ineptitude?

And does the latter necessarily vindicate responsible parties from the seriousness of the error?

I wonder why the Dan Popkey story, from Sept. 2012, about my blog entry "Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?" is no longer on the Idaho Statesman website.

Tom Luna is the current Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho. He is not seeking re-election after a profoundly flawed "Students Come First" initiative was trounced by Idaho voters.

Look at this Boise Weekly reference to the Popkey story. In it, click the hyperlink to the word "column" in the first sentence. Notice how this important story is no longer there.

Betsy Russell, who covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog for the Spokesman Review, had also included a link to the disappearing story. Her link is in the first sentence of the third paragraph.

Boise State Public Radio still has their story available, too ... a curious situation.

The same goes for D.F. Oliveria's Huckleberries Onlinee entry, "Luna Subject Of Wikipedia War," which also includes a link to the now-nonexistent Popkey story.

Luna's bio had been reworked by the Wikipedia editors after the controversy. But the key question here is why the story disappeared from the state's largest media outlet -- which has Popkey links going back as far as 2001 -- but not from other sources.

The story appeared on the front page of the Idaho Statesman print edition on Sept. 7, 2012.

Some concerned Idahoans weighed in:

The great media black out. Idahoans simply will not get the truth. At least we have Betsy. And you. I'll report. -Holly Imamovic

Another person said:

It's pretty stunning. You have to wonder if Luna leaned on the publisher or if Popkey himself had it removed, because of his own new political affiliations.

Popkey, a political reporter and columnist for the Idaho Statesman, left journalism in Late June after 30 years to become the press secretary for 1st District Congressman and Tea Party darling Raul Labrador.

But apparently, disappearing stories from Idahostatesman.com do not represent a new pattern:

Unbelievable but not surprising. They do it all the time. - Boise Weekly Publisher Sally Freeman

and ...

Statesman web archiving is crap. Some of Popkey's pieces on Luna back in 2011 we put on our Common Sense webpage in their entirety, and the same stories have disappeared off the Statesman site.... - Travis Manning

Scandal? Or just a lousy website?

Does either option make you more comfortable?

We have front page story from a state's largest media outlet. It was linked and discussed on multiple other sites. It discussed whether tax dollars should be spent to have the staffer for a statewide elected official clean up his Wikipedia biography.

The story now only exists for those who can get a hard copy of a two year-old newspaper edition.

Please offer your thoughts and suggestions.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

is it particular, or run of the mill?

I looked to see if I might have saved a copy in my digital clipfile, but no. When it became clear that not everyone had the same attitude toward durability as me, I started to save copies of things that I referred to, in order to avoid this "disappearing history" problem, at least for myself, but I haven't been diligent about it.

With so much more stuff online, there'll be more disappearing as we go. At least the NSA will still have copies, right? Does the library have any follow-on to microfilm/fiche that captures and saves things? Maybe not.

The McClatchy business model insists they're much more than "just newspapers," but maybe they're much less, too.

Everything between 2007 and 2012 on Tom Luna is missing

If you search the Idaho Statesman archives, everything between 2007 and 2012 on Tom Luna is missing.


The Statesman has never had a very robust or durable archive. Picking another well-known Idaho politician off the top of my head and putting his name in the search box shows me nothing earlier than 2012.

Your implication is that they've tidied up the archive in regard to Tom Luna. It seems exceedingly unlikely to me that they would have done such a thing. "Just a lousy website," almost certainly.

I would suggest that you give Robert Ehlert a call and see what he has to say for the website.

From the blog

First sentence: "It is the age old question: Scandal? ... or just ineptitude?"

Toward the end of the above blog entry: "Scandal? Or just a lousy website? ... Does either option make you more comfortable?"

There are no references to Luna from January 1, 2007, to July 1, 2013, to be exact. Using Google to search idahostatesman.com between those dates yields just one mention of Tom Luna, in an article titled "Idaho University Presidents Back Common Core Standards."

Also, the Statesman has apparently excluded its site from being archived in the Wayback Machine at http://archive.org.

Blog Updated

Thanks for the dialogue.