Last year, we tried something different with our “Year in Review” issue. Instead of a month-by-month chronology of events, we turned selection of the year’s top stories over to the readers. We came up with a ballot of about 20 “nominees” for top stories of the previous year (2017) and asked people to vote on their 10 favorites. Then we compiled the responses.
We had gratifying participation, and published a story about the “winners” in the “Year in Review” issue. It was voting without all the stress, and it was interesting to see how our readers perceived the issues of the preceding year.
So we’re using the same methodology this year to determine the most noteworthy local stories of 2018, and we’ll publish the results in the Jan. 2, 2019, issue of the paper. You’ll find a ballot on page A5 this week, and repeated in the paper for the next several weeks, so will have plenty of opportunities to participate. We ask that you don’t “ballot stuff” — we adhere to the “one reader, one vote” philosophy to accurately reflect what people are thinking.
As for voting integrity, I have no idea how we would detect or prevent Russian hacking. We’re just going to trust people and the process. You’ll be able to vote by email, snail mail or online to make your choices known. Add comments if you like.
We learned last year, and you’ll see again this year, that many of the most impactful stories in the valley, or affecting the valley, aren’t contained to a strict time frame. Some are ongoing issues that keep our attention, and often require our involvement, for years because they are important and not easily resolved. Or they evolve into a next phase as time and events have there way with things.
To refresh your memory, here are the top 10 stories of 2017 as determined by our readers (summarized by topic):
1. The Methow Headwaters Campaign
2. Summer fires
3. Highway 20 closure over Loup Loup
4. North Cascades Smokejumper base
5. The Hirst decision
6. Grizzly bear reintroduction
7. Women’s March
8. Methow Housing Trust
9. Quiet title dispute over rural roads
10. ATV routes
And, because the votes were close, two bonus stories: Three Devils Road and the Winthrop Marshal’s office.
As you can see, some of those stories still had an active life in 2018 and will likely be on the ballot. In fact, the Methow Headwaters Campaign story will be developing even as you are voting this year. It’s not easy to pare the 2018 headlines down to a manageable list of choices — some of your favorites may not be on the ballot, but you can add write-in votes.
We’d love it if you would take time to vote (but not overthink it) for the year’s top stories. It’s an interesting exercise, and helps us know what’s important to you.
Meanwhile, while we’re conducting an “election,” we’ll be working around the usual challenges of holiday scheduling, which rarely coincides with a newspaper’s regular production schedule.
This year, Christmas falls on a Tuesday — the day we would usually be sending the newspaper to press. Our printer, the Wenatchee World, closes early on Monday (Christmas Eve) and isn’t open Christmas Day. After talking it over, and agreeing that nobody particularly wants to work on Christmas Eve, we came up with an unusual solution that will pose challenges for us and our advertisers: We will complete the newspaper on Friday, Dec. 21, for printing and delivery to retail outlets and post offices on Wednesday, Dec. 27. That’s a very short turnaround time and I’m not sure how we’re going to make that work logistically, but it’s the only way we can make sure people have a chance of getting the newspaper when they ordinarily expect it during Christmas week.
The following week, we’ll finish the paper on Monday, Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve – and have it distributed on Wednesday, Jan. 2, as usual.
We’re planning ahead as much as possible to make it all work so you get your papers on time and our staff has some holiday time off. We’ll provide more details as the holidays draw closer.