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Posts published in June 2014

An old-line newsman

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The 150th anniversary of what we affectionately call the “Daily Paper” (IDAHO STATESMAN) prompted a former colleague to recall the day nearly 50 years ago when he came to work at the old 6th and Bannock office location. Ralph Nichols covered Canyon County news.

By Ralph Nichols

Sandor S. Klein Jr. – Sandy – was a newsman’s newsman, a legendary figure in the history of Idaho journalism. A five-foot seven-inch, cigar-chomping, violin-playing Hungarian Jew with a gravelly voice, whose crew cut was thinning by the time he became managing editor of The Idaho Statesman in Boise, he was a caricature from “The Front Page” come to life.

Sandy had covered boxing for a New York City newspaper, been a World War II correspondent aboard U.S. Navy ships, served as a United Press International bureau chief in Boise, and while covering the Idaho Legislature one session was granted unprecedented personal privilege to propose from the floor to Sen. Edith Miller, who said yes.

He expected his reporters to work hard and demanded initiative, accuracy and fairness. Boise still belonged to its only daily newspaper, and he reacted angrily on those few occasions when is reporters were scooped by the city’s growing television-news presence. Sandy also was a strong booster of Boise’s then-fledgling arts community.

But none of these things did I know about Sandy in the beginning, only that he published a personal take on local events in “Editor’s Notebook,” which appeared weekly on the Sunday editorial page – a feature I had read frequently since taking my first college journalism course for its vignettes that conveyed the image of reporters as the first to know the news.

Walking into the Idaho Statesman newsroom shortly before four o’clock that May 30, 47 years ago I would come to realize only a decade later, was my crossing of a great divide from which there would be no return. Although I had always been a news junkie, becoming a newspaper reporter was not part of the course charted for my future in the spring of 1967.

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Who is Bergdahl today? (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune)
Bike lanes may be ended (Boise Statesman)
Teton Geotourism Center at Driggs opens in August (IF Post Register)
Business software installations not taxes (IF Post Register)
Seattle minimum wage impacts (Lewiston Tribune)
Murray works on airport improvements (Moscow News)
Moscow teachers, district at odds (Moscow News)
Layoffs by Chobani at Twin Falls (TF Times News, Nampa Press Tribune)
Kuna school board member may be recalled (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatellan Sayer runs for state GOP chair (Pocatello Journal)
Al Barrus, Cassia prosecutors, quits (TF Times News)

Steelhead navigation hit by hatcheries (Pendleton E Oregonian, Corvallis Gazette)
College would buy Corvallis park (Corvallis Gazette)
No Eugene Celebration even this year (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane-Eugene land exchange backed (Eugene Register Guard)
Cosmos Creations at Junction City may expand (Eugene Register Guard)
Bealls Department Store will open, 25 jobs (KF Herald & News)
SkyWest departing Klamath (KF Herald & News)
U.S. Senate hears of Klammath water deal (KF Herald & News)
Medford teacher contract not yet signed (Medford Tribune)
Oregon National Guard prepares to deploy (Medford Tribune)
Big Ashland vote key to GMO ban (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Many Cover Oregon enrollees must re-enroll (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Delayed vote on Portland street fee (Portland Oregonian)
Marion County revenue rising (Salem Statesman Journal)

Talks on Kimberly-Clark mill sale continue (Everett Herald)
Educating people on the facts of new pot law (Everett Herald)
Natural preserve zoning approved (Kennewick Herald)
Murray on jet biofuels funds (Kennewick Herald)
Lawsuit on federal pot law preemption (Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Wyoming's Mead urges coal exports (Longview News)
A closer look at strains of pot (Seattle Times)
Mayor Murray contributor gets Seattle contract (Seattle Times)
UW student propose cost plans (Seattle Times)
Concerns about Bergdahl (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian)
Barnes named new Clark commissioner (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver opposing oil terminal plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima plaza plan vote set for 2015 (Yakima Herald Republic)

Failure to inform

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The media’s outburst of sustained patriotism and flag-waving over the Bowe Bergdahl story in recent days seems symptomatic of that same media’s oft-repeated failure to report stories rather than announce events. Now, after the first 48 hours, nearly all of them have run the other way in a "rush to judgment".

Bergdahl, of course, is the Idaho soldier released by the Taliban in Afghanistan a few days ago. For 48 hours, the media was ecstatic and breathlessly related lots of fluff without much substance. Rather than go back to the original reporting on file to flesh out details of his capture five years ago, the kids slathered viewers and readers with gooey gossip severely lacking in fact. Chasing crumbs on the floor while leaving the loaf on the table, seems to me.

Bergdahl may ride in a parade or two around Idaho. But there’s also reason to believe he could wind up in prison or, at the very least, be charged with desertion, given time-served as a prisoner-of-war and dishonorably discharged. Some of the things said by his parents at hastily called bi-coastal media events, could do their son more harm than good. To wit: his father’s decision to learn the Afghan language, comment about hardships caused Afghans by America and the war while growing a big, bushy beard like real male Afghans.

Then add some of the comments from soldiers who risked their own lives to find Bergdahl in the early days after his disappearance, the death of several soldiers on that detail and reports Bergdahl simply loaded up a canteen with water and walked off into the countryside - without his rifle - and you’ve got far less a wonderful story and more of another tragedy of war. And desertion.

The Bergdahl story is far from over. But, if the media had been doing any professional job at all, these details and a lot more could have been reported right at the top along with what was known about his release. The story wasn’t so much about his negotiated freedom as it was about how he was captured in the first place. The story has bookends. And - sadly - both were simply not included in all the reportorial B.S.

There was a time newspapers adequately reported these kinds of things. Lots of detail massaged by editors and proofreaders. Then radio came along. Radio wasn’t designed for long, fully-reported stories. You got the gist of things, then sought a newspaper for details. Then TV hit the scene. Facts gave way to pictures and pictures drove the coverage. TV newscasts had to have “graphics - pictures - movement - action.” Radio gave you the immediacy, TV showed you what happened (sometimes) and newspapers had the details. Now - not so much.

When Ronny Reagan’s Federal Communications appointees deleted all requirements for local radio news, we information seekers took a hit. When they knocked down barriers to same-market-ownership and cross-ownership of competing media, we were hit again. With the advent of the I-net, we turned to electronic data to satisfy our need for detail. That didn’t last long. Between reduced hours of staffing and interminable repetition, even the I-net - with rare exception - has succumbed to “flash-and-dash” coverage.

With brevity, understanding a story can be difficult. Today’s media kids - in all types of media - are being told to “write down.” In newspapers, a few paragraphs al la “Huffington Post.” In radio, standing network protocol is no more than 30 seconds! TV “packages” are supposed to be less than two minutes. With pictures. (more…)

Some unsolicited advice to A.J.

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Democratic gubernatorial nominee A. J. Bulakoff has a slim opportunity to connect with Idaho voters and make the case that he has the ability and skills necessary to lead Idaho forward into the future.

In C.L. “Butch” Otter, voters clearly see a tired and aging Republican governor who has done nothing to merit a third term , who has been around 40 years and one who plays fast and loose with facts that damn him for gutting public education and starving state government.

So here is some unsolicited advice to A. J.

First, restoring adequate funding for public education is your number one issue, but deliver the message with passion and conviction once in awhile. A.J. clearly is not a politician. He is a successful businessman but voters have yet to hear the conviction in his voice that tells them he will figure out how to work with a still dominant Republican Legislature to improve funding when many voted for the original cuts.

Secondly, he has to focus on positive messages that people can unite around such as moves to expand the economic pie. Stay away from the divisive, polarizing social messages. The election is about Idaho’s future and whether its children will be eqipped to compete with the rest of the world. It is not about revisiting the abortion issue or gay marriage. The Supreme Court and other courts have ruled on those issues. The law is the law.

Republicans are so adept at getting Democrats off the “we’re better for the economy, education and environment” message by hitting them with “wrong” stances on social issues. Democrats have to make the Republicans respond to their messages and quit letting the R’s take them off message.

That’s not to say that A.J. should not weave key elements of some of the fundamental civil rights issues Democrats have always been in the forefront on because he should. Democrats are fundamentally corrrect on the immigration reform issue and many of Idaho’s farmers are far more in agreement with the Democratic position that will help Idaho farmers legally obtain needed field workers rather than the draconian Republican approach. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Anger over conditions of Bergdahl release (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Ada Republican winner favor Otter (Boise Statesman)
House value in Ada rose 15 percent in 2013 (Boise Statesman)
IF may try automated garbage pickup (IF Post Register)
Higher ed presidents get pay raises (Lewiston Tribune)
Latah planned development, traffic issues (Moscow News)
Caldwell may get recreation facility (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho effect of federal carbon cut order (Nampa Press Tribune)

Seattle sets $15 minimum wage (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Many citations by Eugene's 'party patrol' (Eugene Register Guard)
Emissions must drop in OR nearly half (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Klamath irrigators pursue more water (KF Herald & News)
Farmers market to start at Klamath soon (KF Herald & News)
Ashland still works on pot regs (Ashland Tidings)
Avalon Bar & Grill at Talent closes (Ashland Tidings)
State of Jefferson more a California thing (Medford Tribune)
On pay for classified staff at Medford SD (Medford Tribune)
Visits may be canceled at Pendleton prison (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Poll: Oregon evenly split on gas pumping (Portland Oregonian)
State Arts Commission considers leader (Salem Statesman Journal)
May was one of warmest recorded (Salem Statesman Journal)

NLRB backs machinist-Boeing deal (Everett Herald)
debate over build bans in slide areas (Everett Herald)
Debate over Berghdahl release deal (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Kennewick Herald)
Federal emissions requirements hit WA (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Olympia)
Reynolds metal cleanup cost may be $344m (Longview News)
Rainier climbers nearly all identified (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Seattle sets $15 minimum wage (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Public at meeting blasts oil terminal (Vancouver Columbian)

A Bergdahl controversy

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Just about anyone has to feel good about the release of Hailey’s Bowe Bergdahl.

The young soldier was captive of the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years and the subject of countless prayers, yellow ribbons, and pleas from his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl.

However, his release and eventual return to what we assume will be civilian life will be the subject of strong debates among those who question the circumstances of his capture. “Hero or villain?” will be the question as the national media join the discussion.

The delicate issue for the military and Obama is ride the wave of euphoria about the release and deflect questions of HOW Bowe was captured — without his weapon. It will be an interesting story to follow.

U.S. Senator James Risch is on the senate intelligence committee and he indicated during an interview with the legacy media that President Obama and his administration had breached a deal with congress to give 30 days warning before any prisoners would be released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Bergdahl was traded for five enemy combatants and administration officials say secrecy was needed to save the soldier.

Then there is the issue of negotiating for freedom — in essence paying a ransom. It has long been USA policy to stand tough and not negotiate for fear of encouraging other kidnappings.

Bob Bergdahl has talked about son Bowe’s quest to “help the people of Afghanistan,” but he carefully avoided using the term “fighting.” The articulate parent held a press conference at Gowen Field Sunday, but answered no questions. His massive beard is a concession to the Afghan culture and he revealed he had also learned the language as well.

While it would be nice for Bowe to return to the adoration of all Americans, we suspect the homecoming may be somewhat muted, despite the good photo-op for a big July Fourth Parade. We still have a month to go for the parade scenario to work out.

Former TWA pilot B. Christian Zimmerman of Cascade was held hostage in Lebanon by Muslim Terrorists aboard flight 847 in June 1985. His release was timed to get him home in time for a July Fourth parade down Cascade’s Main Street. He is now an ordained Lutheran minister preaching in Ontario.

This week’s Briefings

obama bergdahl

Standing in the White House Rose Garden the afternoon of May 31, President Barack Obama spoke about the recovery of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — an American soldier who spent nearly five years in captivity during the war in Afghanistan. Standing with Sgt. Bergdahl's parents, Bob and Jani, from Hailey, the President said that "while Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten.". (image capture/White House)

 
After the crush of the primary election and its immediate aftermath, things quieted down a bit and ease off with the passage of Memorial Day and the (de facto) arrival of summer.

But there was news. The release of long-term POW Bowe Bergdahl made regional news at the end of the week. In Oregon and Idaho, the parties pulled themselves together (as much as they could) as work begins for the general election. And the last stages of prep begins for the summer recreation season.

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Bergdahls talk at Boise (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
EPA emission rules impacting Idaho (Boise Statesman)
Pullman high school graduation (Moscow News)
Idaho federal lands group hires attorney (Moscow News)
Senate Education panel changing (TF Times News)

Parking plans back to Corvallis council (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Plans for independent grocery at Creswell (Eugene Register Guard)
Charter school okayed at Eagle Point (Medford Tribune)
National view of OR senate race (Medford Tribune)
Online health information in OR program (Portland Oregonian)
Law enforcement cuts in rural Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Tracking collars on two more wolves (Salem Statesman Journal)
More plans for tsunami emergencies (Salem Statesman Journal)

Discussions planned on homeless (Everett Herald)
Mukilteo ferry move get federal grant help (Everett Herald)
Liquor prices up, sales down (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Debate over exchange, freed POW (Kennewick Herald)
Significant erosion near Zintel Canyon Dam (Kennewick Herald)
Two dead Ranier climbers ID'd, climb in review (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Transgender health bills considered (Olympian)
Voters Tuesday consider smart meter plan (Port Angeles News)
Lawsuit filed against timber harvest (Port Angeles News)
Impact of $15 minimum wage (Seattle Times)
Briefs I-90 closures this week (Spokane Spokesman)

Merging development groups

mendiola MARK
MENDIOLA

 
Reports

When he addressed a large crowd of eastern Idaho business and government leaders May 30 at Idaho Central Credit Union’s state headquarters in Chubbuck, Idaho Commerce Director Jeff Sayer acknowledged there has been some resistance to merging the economic development agencies of Bannock, Bingham and Bonneville counties into one entity.

Accompanied by Idaho Labor Department Director Ken Edmunds, Sayer spoke at a Regional Economic Development Initiative gathering sponsored by ICCU, Pocatello Medical Center and Idaho National Laboratory. Those attending included INL Director John Grossenbacher, five mayors from the region and congressional representatives.

Similar meetings were held at Idaho Falls in February and Blackfoot in March to address possibly creating a single economic development organization for the region.

Some Pocatellans have expressed concerns that the drive to merge Bannock Development Corporation with Grow Idaho Falls Inc. and Bingham Economic Development Corporation will be to the advantage of Idaho Falls and Blackfoot at Pocatello’s expense.

Sayer said he has heard some refer to creating an eastern Idaho economic development organization “a hostile takeover” and express misgivings that the matter is being forced on them. Others have wanted it created as soon as June.

“There’s a lot of mistrust under the surface,” the commerce director said, mentioning he has heard frustrations that are 10 years old. “If this fails, it will not be resurrected in our professional lifetimes.”

He urged those in attendance to proceed slowly, clarify their message and listen to each other. Combined, eastern Idaho’s work force is the second largest in the state. The Interstate 15 corridor has “a powerful collection of assets,” he said, noting it took Magic Valley 10 years to hit its stride and perfect its business model.

“If eastern Idaho comes together, the ‘great state of Ada’ would wonder what in the heck happened,” Sayer remarked.

Sayer said Idaho is “a long ways behind” competing with other states, some of which are merging as regional forces in the Southeast and the Midwest. He agreed with Mike Mullis of J.M. Mullis, Inc., a project location specialist, who said Idaho has an identity problem. Mullis assisted in bringing a new Clif Bars bakery to Twin Falls.

Sayer emphasized that Idaho boasts robust aerospace, manufacturing and energy industries in addition to its agricultural strengths.

Edmunds said a central focal point or voice is needed to represent regional economic development, but local organizations also need to be retained in some format. He also suggested an independent group be brought in to evaluate the eastern Idaho economic development issue. (more…)