"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

What was news

As we look back on the last decade (and year for that matter) on the diminishment of the news, we might see some opportunity ahead for redefinition of what news is. That thought arrives via the AP report out today about the top news stories of the year in Washington state.

These are, in other words, the biggest news, the most newsworthy, stories of the year across the state. (Every state, or nearly all at least, compile similar lists annually.)

Number one was the November shooting of four Lakewood police officers. This was a powerful, dramatic, wrenching story without doubt; it was properly big news. It was somewhat unusual in that the incident was an ambush of police who were not at the time even interacting with the public.

But did the world, or Washington state, or some big portion of it, change as a result? Did we learn anything very new? In this case, a psycho decided to kill police officers; most of us probably know that this is (sadly, certainly) a part of the world as it is.

Story 2 was voter approval of the “everything but marriage statute.” That was a major change in the state, and marked a significant change in the cultural outlook nationally. Story 3 was the state’s 9%+ unemployment – a huge new fact of life facing and affecting (directly or indirectly) all Washingtonians. Story 4 was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s closure as a print operation – a major turning point in communications, news reporting, politics and economics in the state. Story 5 was the Boeing decision to go to South Carolina for its new 787 production line, a development with large-scale implications for the Puget Sound.

So what is news? What are the priorities? Maybe, in this time of turmoil, we may want to pause a bit to consider.

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