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Housekeeping

A few changes at work around the site.

You may notice the subject bar just below the picture at the top of this page is a little shorter. The pages that were listed there and are not now - the outta Idaho journalism, Costa Rica and other pages - are not gone. They're just accessible from elsewhere. (Look down in the column to the right, under "Pages".) They're updated infrequently enough that we thought a little less headline-y location would be more appropriate.

And you may have noticed the new box above the posts here. It's there to draw a little extra attention to the blogs, publications, posts, books and other things we do that otherwise sometimes get buried.

We'll be doing a few more things in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

On KLIX Monday morning

This year as in the last few, I'm on air Monday mornings (8:20 mountain, 7:20 pacific) on KLIX-AQM Twin Falls, discussing the Idaho Legislature.

It streams and is available via the KLIX web site.

Post 3,001, and still counting

The last post was, it turned out (hadn't noticed until after it was posted) number 3,000 for this blog. That is, since we went to Wordpress in October 2005; this blog was around for years before that too, back in the days when we hand-crafted the HTML. And it's still running, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Can't say about the rest of the country, but in the Northwest that makes us part of an ever-smaller group. Back around the middle of the last decade the region was loaded with political blogs, a batch in all three Northwest states. Today, not so much. There are a lot more blogs operated by mass media (just about all of the larger regional papers have political-related blogs, and they're generally of high quality). But far fewer independents than there used to be.

The cause for noting this is not just our own landmark but also the note of the passing, at least in likely considerable part, of the Horse's Ass blog at Seattle. Highly partisan (Democratic) it also has been a top source of information on politics in Seattle and Washington, and has forged a nice sparring partnership with the Republican-oriented Sound Politics; each has undoubtedly become better because the other is there.

What's happening, HA founder David Goldstein reports, is that he's joining the alternative weekly The Stranger (where in recent months he's been a regular contributor) as a full-time staffer, and as a result after February 2, "I simply won’t be writing here much anymore, if at all." Goldstein is not the only HA writer, but he's the core. So HA's future is in question.

We see regular eulogies for newspapers (and it'll be coming for broadcasters too, just watch), and there's good reason. But we may before long need some recognition too for some of the blogs that have made a real contribution. As Horse's Ass has.

Malloy’s blog

Malloy
Chuck Malloy

A new blog this week on Ridenbaugh Press, by Chuck Malloy called Malloy from the Inside. It's Malloy's first blog, and he's busy posting.

His viewpoint is a little different from what you'll ordinarily see on this page. For the last several years, he has been chief spokesman for the Idaho House Republicans, and his take on things is substantially informed by that experience. (He's recently departed from that role.) But not that alone. Before that, he also was an editorial writer for the Idaho Statesman in Boise, and earlier was political writer for the Post-Register newspaper in Idaho Falls.

I've known Chuck since we both covered politics for newspapers a long time ago. His background goes way back. His blog stands to become a regular reading stop as this next Idaho legislative session gets underway next week.

#11 from 10: WA gets a 10th

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.

Upcoming: 12 stories, 5 trends of 2010

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.

On air

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.

Back on KLIX

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.

The high cost of stayin’ alive

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 . . .

Facing Facebook

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.