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Posts published in “Day: March 6, 2009”

Following up: Lincoln County Chatter

Last August we blogged about a newspaper aftermath in a small town, on the border of ever being able to support a small weekly. Shoshone, Idaho, population around 1,300 in a county not terribly larger, long was home to the Lincoln County Journal. Along with a bunch of other weeklies in the area, it was shut down last year by its owner, Lee Enterprises.

The editor, Marsha Hiatt, may have lost the paycheck but she refused to quit. She started a news blog, the Lincoln County Chatter, and got it off to a promising start last summer.

And now? A few days ago, she sent a mail saying "the blog is still going strong - almost 5,000 hits a month. I have branched out and now have a photo blog and government blog as well. In November I was also elected as Commissioner in my county - the only Democrat elected in the Magic Valley region of Southern Idaho. Just thought I'd let you know - we're still kickin' over here in Idaho."

Today, responding to a query back, she adds:

. . . the blog followers are - for the most part - hugely supportive. This effort is successful because of them and the information they send into the blog. We also have readers all over the country and in many other countries - mostly people who grew up in this area or have family here. (This is astonding to me because our county is less than 5,000 in population). It really has turned into a very fulfilling and full-time hobby. On a political note, I have learned a great deal about what's important in this community and how people view the world. Though I may not always like, or agree with, what they send me I still think it's important to know where their heads are.
Again, thanks. I'm truly proud of what this has turned into.

There may be hope yet beyond newspapers.

Wolves for the state

wolf

The Obama Administration decision taking gray wolves - in Idaho and Montana - off the endangered species list, and letting those states manage them, will likely pay a whole bunch of political dividends.

Yes, wolf advocates can complain that the states won't do what the feds might have by way of protection. But realistically, the states will have to operate within federal parameters and within federally-approved plans. The distinction is likely to be almost as much jurisdictional as anything.

In return for that, the new administration bought itself a lot of goodwill on a subject directly touching on few Idahoans - how many, in raw numbers, will actually encounter a wild wolf? - but of big emotional, symbolic and political impact.

New Representative Walt Minnick reports that he lobbied hard to get this result, working contacts through to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. No doubt he did; his this decision gone the other way, he'd have had a lot of 'splaining to do back home.

As it is, Minnick, the other three (Republican) members of the congressional delegation and Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter got together on a press release of praise. Senator Jim Risch: "I greatly appreciate Secretary Salazar’s decision." Otter: The decision is "heartening." Representative Mike Simpson: "A good, sound decision."

The Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert suggested, "when was the last time a Western Republican governor howled in approval of any natural resource policy from a Democratic White House? Times could be changing from the Sagebrush Rebellion, which took root after the Carter years, and the oft-repeated 'War on the West' rhetoric from the Clinton years." That potential is becoming real; fulfillment awaits.