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And then there were

Years ago, more than a decade and far from where I am now, I had a chat about the future of local television news with a guy in the business. He spun out a long-term scenario I'd not heard before and seldom have since:

Over time, he said, television stations will do what newspapers have done. They will conclude, for purposes of news at least, that the market cannot reasonably support a multiple of stations. So in markets where three or four stations with full news departments have been the norm, that will scale back. To three, two. Maybe eventually to one. It happened with newspapers. And as the many WB and UPN stations have shown, in this age of deregulation, nothing more than pride requires a television station to develop and air local news, or other programming, for that matter.

That speculation came to mind just now, in reading a comment on the Portland Media Insider site. The comment concerns a rumor (specifically noted as such, and if you're interested you can read about it there) that one of the Portland televison stations will outsorce its news operaton.

The comment: "As sad as it sounds, I think the idea makes some sense. Each ratings book comes back with lower overall local news numbers than the year prior, and there aren't any signs of that trend reversing. Eventually, four local news operations will be too many for the market's demand... and that day is coming sooner than later."

For whatever it's worth, the comments on the site suggest that the "rumor" is at least being taken seriously, even without visible sourcing. Says something in itself.

Irony in action

File this under the category of "highly unlikely to happen," but it seemed worthy of regonial note.

From a San Francisco Chronicle piece on a press for renaming the national FBI center after someone other than J. Edgar Hoover, in part because of his role in surveilling Martin Luther King ...

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who is working for release of King's intelligence files, has introduced legislation to name the FBI building for Frank Church, the late Idaho senator whose Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held scorching hearings on U.S. intelligence gathering and FBI abuses under Hoover.

Blogging back

One trend of 2005 that stand to go away is the drumbeat on the part of newspaper journalists against bloggers - notably, political bloggers. As a long-time former newspaper reporter and editor, I find it unbecoming. And uninsightful - increasing amonts of genuine journalism are getting committed on the blogosphere.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer weighed in the last day of this year in its lists of five people and things it would like to remember and like to forget about 2005. Among the latter: "Stefan Sharkansky and David Goldstein. The right-wing Shark and left-wing Goldy have dominated the local political blogosphere, which during the governor’s race controversy sounded like a schoolyard shouting match."

Let Goldy have the last word [12/31]: "I’m guessing that if the JOA goes the way we all expect it to go, it will be Stefan and I who will be forgetting the P-I in a couple of years."

A closing blast

And so 2005 comes to a close ... with a lot of rain.

rain on an Oregon highwayMetaphors aside, that's a good thing, however tired some of us may be getting at the steady rainfall and periodic light flooding. The flooding, we can at least console ourselves, hasn't done much damage or overflowed many critical waterways. And as for the rainfall ... well, we just need to take care as we go out to celebrate tonight.

And there is something in this to celebrate.

According to the national snowpack recordkeepers, the region is more or less on track for a good, solid snowpack this year, something we haven't been able to say for quite a few seasons. (more…)

Now it can be said

Okay, so it's not as though no one else has ever said this.

But Associated Press reporters watch the state legislators at least as closely as anyone, and they are ordinarily sworn to high journalistic rectitude: Keep your opinions, in public, generally to yourself.

Charles Beggs has retired from the AP after covering the Oregon Legislature for longer than he probably would like to think about. And so, here's what he told the Willamette Week about what really pissed him off in 2006:

"The Legislature. It was very aggravating to see them taking seven months to do four months of work—and even then, they didn't accomplish much. There's an intransigence on both sides that's fueled by the desire to stake out positions that will satisfy interests that will give them money to get re-elected."

And who can argue?

Willamina’s cat flap

The old Tammany politico George Washington Plunkitt, one of the great cynics of public affairs, liked to say that "reformers are only mornin' glories" - they never last. Plunkitt wasn't all right - some reformers have gone on to do good for an extended stretch. But he wasn't all wrong either: It's a tough job to keep that reforming ethic intact; so many things, sometimes little things, whittle away at it.

Agie the cat Consider the cat - an easy-going, eight-year-old calico named Agie, as of now the most famous cat in Oregon - that has the city of Willamina in the biggest uproar of its recent history.

Agie was a stray kitten when she fell into the hands of Melissa Hansen, the librarian at the Oregon timber town; she named the feline for Agatha Christie. Feeling that cats and things literary go together (cat blogging, anyone?), she moved the cat into the library, with official city permission. It has been there since, developing fans around town and especially among the children at the library. The chldren also have become enamored of two other library residents, hamsters named Hamlet and Othello.

The cat (as we observed this evening) is friendly but not overbearing, and clearly in good health. She has been declawed, and has no history of biting or other violence. The hamsters were asleep, but they were shielded consistently from children and others by placement of their terrarium inside a book case - visible but not touchable.

That was the situation the Willamina City Council voted, at its meeting of December 8, to upend by banning animals from city buildings. (more…)

Rererereapportionment

Some people are never satisfied. That's actually one of the realities of legislative reapportionment: No matter how you reshape and rearrange, you can't please everyone. That doesn't give the displeased grounds for a lawsuit.

Idaho legislative districtsOur view on the current districting map for Idaho has been that it's not ideal but not bad either - allowing for some problematic areas. One of those is a district connecting a small group of people near Idaho Falls with a population base located around 80 miles away near the Utah border, with no useful direct road contact between (unless you want to rev up your four wheel drive, you have to veer outside the state or district to get from one to the other). It's an unfortunate district, no doubt. There's another running from Homedale to Twin Falls almost as bad. Such things happen to someone in every reapportionment.

But a number of eastern Idahoans, some of them legislators or former legislators, are aggrieved, and they have taken the reapportionment back to the Idaho Supreme Court. It has been there before, during the original reapportionment process in 2002. Further challenges led to more intense inquiry but, in the Idaho Supreme Court decision released Wednesday, the result was much the same. (more…)

Acquisition

The formal description reads: "F&M Holding Company, the parent company of Farmers & Merchants State Bank, is the largest independent bank holding company headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Farmers and Merchants State Bank, is a community banking organization established in 1967. FMSB's business mix is both retail and commercial, with a strategic focus on business banking. Farmers & Merchants State Bank also offers trust, investments and private banking services. The Company, with $582 million in assets, has 11 full-service branches located throughout the Boise and Treasure valley area."

Make that, "was the largest independent bank holding company headquartered in Boise, Idaho."

Cascade Bancorp, which is based in Bend an runs the rapidly-growing Bank of the Cascades, just bought it - greatly extending its reach to the east, and making it a much larger regional player in banking. To date, Cascade has 21 branches, all in Oregon, most in central Oregon.

It now seems positioned for a larger regional growth. Speculation: Watch for entry into Washington state before long.

Hot reading

Time has come for all the year-end lists (we here too are making some lists, checking them twice), but some are more striking than others.

Consider for example the Seattle Times list of 20 stories on its web site which were most-read (or at least most-viewed) during 2005.

Number 1 on the list: "Enumclaw-area animal-sex case investigated." Number 3: "Trespassing charged in horse-sex case." Number 6: "Videotapes show bestiality, Enumclaw police say." Number 14: "Details we can't quite comprehend" (a Nicole Brodeur column about the Enumclaw case). Number 19: "Charge filed in connection with man who died having horse sex."

That's five out of 20: Far outweighing any other topic.