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Posts published in “Day: July 31, 2009”

Newswriting alchemy

There is a style and an approach to writing news stories, for newspaper or wire service, on one hand, and news releases, for general consumption, on the other. They read differently. They do different kinds of things. They are different sorts of statements.

So, some fascination in what David Ammons has been doing at the Washington secretary of state's office. For a long, long time (from 1971 to 2008) he was the dean of the Olympia press corps, the key Associated Press writer on government and politics in the state. Now he's the public information guy for the secretary of state.

Point here is, read what he's been writing there, such this recent piece on Referendum 71. It reads more like a news story than a press release - some sort of a new style combining the types, or maybe something new altogether.

It's a creative approach, whatever it is.

Reasons for selection

If you threw down a list of the dozen or so key turning point moments in the history of Boise, one of them would have to be the selection of the city by Hewlett Packard for development of its laser printer operations. Its arrival in 1973 was notable but seemed not overwhelming at the time. Over the years, it became pivotal, giving Boise a solid tech anchor it would not have had otherwise, around which the city became a genuine tech center. It's hard to imagine Micron Technology having launched there, at least the way it did, in geography unplowed by HP. As corporate relocations go, this was one of the most consequential ever in the Northwest.

The man who made that call was Ray Smelek, and he writes about it in his memoir, "Making My Own Luck." There were other contenders for the laser printer operation, notably Spokane and Corvallis (in both of which HP also developed operations). Why Boise? (Was it, say, low taxes?)

Golf, skiing, personal lifestyle - that was pretty much it, Smelek writes: "I didn’t tell anyone at the time what the truth was about how we site selected Boise. It seemed such a dumb reason. But in reality, I believe that the decision-maker’s affinity for a specific place plays a large part in any site selection when there is no specific business reason, i.e., natural resources, customer proximity, etc."

(Hat tip to the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell on this.)