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Posts tagged as “Northwest”

First Take

One of our writers here recently made the case that Boise State University President Bob Kustra is the most consequential university president Idaho has ever had; and a good case can be made to that effect. A good case can be made too that Elson Floyd of Washington State University was headed on that kind of track for his institution. In his time as president, WSU moved toward developing the state's second medical school and made major expansions in other disciplines and in geographic places around the state. Floyd, who died June 20 only days after revelation that he had cancer, was a major figure in the state and becoming more so. He will be harder than most to replace.

The Northwest has been remarkably lucky so far in this fire season, but remember that with the arrival of July we'll be heading into the period most typical for bad fires. if you check on the National Interagency Fire Center reports, you'll find that the one part of the country with really bad fires so far is Alaska (four fires of more than 7,000 acres each, plus a number of smaller instances). The next hardest-hit state are Arizona and California, but those at relatively modest levels, so far. But with hot and sunny weather, no precipitation on the horizon at all, a lot of fire suppression specialists are doubtless concerned. The coming of 4th of July fireworks no doubt is putting them on edge too, with the message about to go out: Let's be careful out there.

Them that got

A few quick observations on the just-released county and metro area census figures . . .

One is that, since the estimation period ended in July of last year, that happened before the economic crash really started to hit. What changes might happen when the next round comes out, the estimate closing in July of this year?

Another is that, for the most part, growth has continued in larger jurisdictions, and population declines seem centered in smaller and more remote areas. The estimate is that as of mid-2008, King County (the big kahuna in the region) added another 25,000 or so people, which is a little more than it added in the year before. Pierce County added about 12,000 (though Snohomish considerably less). Multnomah County grew about 15,000 and Washington County (Oregon) close to 10,000. Ada County added almost 8,000.

But: Some of the largest percentage growth in the region was in the somewhat smaller urban areas. The hottest metro in the Northwest, by far, was the Tri-Cities which went from 227,905 to 235,841. Next largest in percentage was the Idaho Falls area, which went from 119,133 to 122,995 (largely accounted for via suburban growth in Jefferson County just north of town). Is there a nuclear generator for population going on here?

Bend, Olympia and Coeur d'Alene had the next largest percentage growth.

All of that shouldn't totally obscure the places that have been showing clear population declines. Among those counties: Bear Lake, Caribou and Clearwater in Idaho and Gilliam, Grant, Harney and Sherman in Oregon. (None in Washington.)

Note also some counties we've been thinking of as resort growth counties, which turn out generally to have stabilized in population the last few years: Blaine, Teton and Valley in Idaho, Hood River and Lincoln in Oregon.

The paper watch

Now the Post-Intelligencer, the print version anyway, is gone, and the drumbeat goes on. Cuts at Boise, Olympia, Bellingham, elsewhere. (The norm now seems to be that the average newspaper in the region, probably in the country, employs about a third fewer people than it did a couple of years ago.)

Who's keeping track?

If you're looking for mainstream industry information, the place to watch is Editor & Publisher, the website of the long-running industry magazine. Beyond that, and beyond the official corporate sites, there's some interesting reading to be found.

Jim Hopkins' excellent Gannett Blog has attracted a good deal of attention, and it has some relevance to Northwest newspaper watchers - but less than it once did, because Gannett has only one daily left in the region (the Salem Statesman-Journal). The chains more dominant in the region's newspapering aren't be tracked so closely.

There is also, happily, the McClatchy Watch, about the newspaper company that now owns the dailies at Tacoma, Boise, Bellingham, Olympia and the Tri-Cities, is deeply in debt, and it cutting back all over.

Two other companies own a bunch of dailies in the region. Both Pioneer Newspapers (Klamath Falls, Nampa, Pocatello, Mount Vernon, Ellensburg) and Lee Enterprises (Twin Falls, Albany, Corvallis, Longview) collectively have substantial audiences in the region, and own a bunch of weeklies in addition to the dailies, but aren't really well-known as corporate entities. There doesn't seem to be a close external observer of Pioneer, which as a family business can and does manage itself quietly. There is a blog called Lee Watch, but it mainly posts employee-related matters.

Oregonians can check Oregon Media Insiders, which leans a bit toward the broadcast side but often has useful material on the area's newspapers too (like a recent post on more cutbacks at the Vancouver Columbian).

And, of course, right here . . .

A bull market in hate?

Hard times lead to hard feelings, and worse. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and related groups around the country, reports finding 926 such groups around the country, "up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000."

It goes on: "As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics. Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign."

Some caution is called for, though, in evaluating all this. One of the newcomers to the list is the Eugene-based Pacifica Forum, which seems to fall into a gray area. Pacifica has given a platform to anti-semitic speakers in recent years, and the SPLC seems to have concluded that the relationship is closer than simply offering a soapbox. The Eugene Register Guard, which has watched it in action for years at close range, offers this interpretation:

"If the Pacifica Forum represents any kind of threat, it’s a small-bore threat indeed. The number of people who are actively involved can be counted on two hands, and among them are a high quotient of people guilty of nothing worse than being stubborn fools. Listing the forum as a hate group will serve mainly to pump up its sense of importance, and bolster its self-image as a martyred defender of free speech. The forum began, and functioned for years, as a platform for controversial political and historical analysis of every ideological stripe. Among its speakers were sharp critics of U.S. support for Israel, and some of these stepped over the line into outright anti-Semitism. When the forum was called out on this, its organizers mistook public criticism for intimidation. They remained blind to the difference between speakers who expressed strong views on matters of public policy and those who demonized entire groups of people. They confused their bad judgment with open-mindedness."

So some caution and acceptance of gray areas is called for. And numbers of a given category can rise and fall depending on how you define the category.

The SPLC points to 26 groups around the Northwest, 12 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and Idaho. In the national context, these aren't massive numbers. States in the south and border-south have many more per capita. It's a part of the landscape up here, certainly. But might this be an indicator that the Northwest is not a specific breeder of this kind of activity? (more…)