The bigger story should kick in come 2011, when more numbers come in and the redistricting commission starts meeting. But the fact of Washington state getting a 10th congressional district – this according to population figures released in December by the U.S. Census Bureau – has some significance all its own.

Symbolically, there’s this: Washington becomes only the second state (California being the other) to grow large enough to develop a House delegation in two figures. Arizona, for example, grew but remains at nine.

Politically, this: The newly-added seat, which is highly likely to center on the Puget Sound, seems likely to push the state’s House partisan split from its current 5-4 Democratic majority to 6-4. There are enough Republican population centers around the Sound to give them probably one more district in addition to three probably R-majority districts elsewhere (analogues to the current 3, 4 and 5), but probably not more than that. On the other hand, if Oregon rather than Washington had gotten the extra district – and the gap between the two states for the gain was not large – it would likely have gone from 4-1 Democratic to 4-2 Democratic, a Republican gain.

Where will the “new district” be fitted in? Most opinionators tended to focus on the southern Sound area, somewhre around Pierce and Thurston counties. But that’s not a given; some of the largest numerical growth was in northern King. A number of possibilities exist.

But then, the commission has yet to weigh in.

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In this low-news week – the stretch between Christmas and New Year’s almost always is – we’ll take a look back at 2010 in the Northwest through two lenses.

First, a dozen “indicative” stories – high-profile news of the time that has significance beyond the daily news cycles. Then on Friday a rundown of five larger trends that seemed to shape events in the Northwest (and sometimes far beyond).

The upcoming dozens stories aren’t intended to match up to the regular news media lists of top stoties of the year. The standards are different; ours are measured less by the blaring size of headlines than by their larger significance.

For example. The Oregonian and the state’s news organizations would be remiss if, by their usual standards, the story of the disappearance of Kyron Horman didn’t rank high, or even at the top. It generated endless huge headlines (which far outran actual news), and local TV spent a whole lot of time on it. It was high-interest, without a doubt. But as to its larger significance? Not so much, unless you include addition of yet another round of security at some area schools. So Kyron won’t show up here.

The stories related to relatively specific events or chains of events. The trends are bigger picture; if something major doesn’t show up among the initial dozen, it may be swept up within the five trends.

The stories and trends are numbered, but don’t take from that a serious rank order of significance: It’s mainly a way of keeping track (for reading and writing) of where we are. But for various reasons, they all do merit a little head-scratching.

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If you’re around Twin Falls, or available to a radio stream: I’m on the morning news program at KLIX-AM, out of Twin Falls, right about now – just past 9 a.m. Mountain Time.

Topic du jour can be reasonably resumed.

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Idaho website

On Monday mornings last year, I talked with the news staff at KLIX-AM in Twin Falls during the legislative session, about what was coming up at the Statehouse – or, then, the Statehouse annex.

This year we’re doing it again, starting this morning. You can reach KLIX online via the image at the top of the right column. And there’s one difference between this year and last: This year’s radiocasts will be podcast, and available via streaming. This morning’s, for example – it of course had to do with the arrival of the legislators and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s state of the state speech, upcoming shortly – is available for listening. Check it out.

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Couldn’t resist a link to this post from an old colleague, Mark Shenefelt, with whom I covered news in Boise years ago. Shenefelt now is an editor at the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, and he writes here about the cost of health care, some of his experiences, and some of its implications.

Posted here not solely because of his kind words toward the end . . .

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Got an inquiry from a friend (in the conventional sense) about becoming a friend (in the specialized sense) with someone on Facebook. He and the other person have had political differences, but he got the invitation to be “friended.” What to do?

Each to their own tastes. But – and yes, we here are on Facebook, and Twitter too among other things – the basic take here is that being someone’s “friend” on Facebook is a little different than the traditional type. A friend on Facebook is someone you choose to keep in touch with, and may or may not be more than that. The question: But would I throttle back on my opinions if I know that so-and-so might see them? Response: If they’re on line anywhere, they may be seen. A whole generation of politicians, among others, is about to learn that the hard way. (The rule here: Write nothing, post nothing, anywhere, that isn’t essentially open to the world at large. You’ll find your desire to keep it private is in inverse proportion to the likelihood of its emergence into unwanted hands.)

Facebook and Twitter do raise a variety of questions for certain categories of people. A question for bloggers and other writers (journalists included): To what extent is a Facebook post or a Twitter tweet “on the record” – quotable elsewhere? A point not yet really resolved.

The next blog post here will make use of Tweets someone else has posted. Probably, those tweets were intended to shared with the world at large. If not, we’ll probably find out soon enough.

Via a Facebook post, a link to a pair of essays by two Idaho journalists, Kevin Richert and Marcia Franklin, on the ethical and journalistic issues of social communications. The main takeaway: There’s a lot yet to be worked out.

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In the next three days, we’ll run posts on our picks for the person of the year in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. A quick word on these first.

They will be along the line of the influential persons lists we did for some years in Idaho, at least in matters of criteria – and but for the fact that we’ll be naming just one person.

The idea is not honorary, not necessarily an indication of goodness or of excellent achievement. The idea is to name someone who somehow or another threw a curve into the very recent history of their state, affecting it on a substantial level for good or ill. And someone whose actions were specific to them, not necessarily undertaken by whoever might have been standing in their shoes – someone without whom their state would have been different than it actually is right now. The thing is more an invitation to consider not necessarily what made the big headlines but what mattered in the Northwest over the last year.

Let it be not a conversation ender, but conversation starter.

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You may have noticed that we’ve done a little sprucing up, code-wise. We’ve operated with a sound WordPress package for more than three years, but we haven’t upgraded its core engine in all that time. So things have become increasing scratch/patch. And after a while, a little shaking out helps.

What’s here is, for the most part, much like what was here yesterday – from many of the basic elements, you can see this is still Ridenbaugh Press. But there’s been a little reworking under the hood, and will be a little more. The site’s purpose and content, though, go on.

Let us know what you think.

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