Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Electronic exchange of ideas grows

Politics and animals dominate online debates

Express Staff Writer

Readers of the Idaho Mountain Express made their voices heard in 2010, adding their views and comments to the stories published in the newspaper and online. The exchange of ideas took place at the newspaper's website,, and included topics as diverse as zoning for the proposed Ketchum Market, one cat's incredible journey and the right of a family to fly the American flag at their condominium.

Another way ideas generated at the Express were shared was by the forwarding of stories, editorials and letters via e-mail. The stories e-mailed the most by readers this year all included one of the valley's most treasured resources: our animals. The top three e-mailed stories pertained to a horse, a housecat and a mountain lion. The next two most popular stories were also animal stories—readers shared the stories about a cougar visiting a house in Gimlet and the sighting of rare birds.

Many of the stories most commented on also involved animals. Reporter Katherine Wutz's Aug. 6 story asking "Where are all the elk?" generated 111 comments from readers. The story of wolves and wolf management continued to evoke strong feelings on all sides, and Wutz's examination of why elk populations are declining, maybe not only because of wolves, hit a nerve.

Also on the topic of wolves, Wutz's Sept. 24 story reported the killing of two wolves near Stanley by Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials. Comments on the story were received from 104 readers.

But passions also ran high on stories concerning local politics and individual rights. Reporter Matt Furber's look at whether a family's right to fly the American flag trumped the rules of the homeowners' association where they live garnered the highest number of comments for the year—132 people felt strongly enough to write in.

Following is a list of the 10 Express stories or columns that were commented on the most and e-mailed the most in 2010:

Stories and letters that generated the most online comments:

- Family fights for the right to fly flag (132 comments)

- Where are all the elk? (111 comments)

- 2 wolves killed near Stanley (104 comments)

- Tempers rage over Ketchum Market (94 comments; news story about reaction to putting a food market in Ketchum's Light Industrial zone)

- Pot grower gets 21 days in jail (90 comments)

- Elk making a comeback (87 comments; letter about Warm Spring elk population)

( Editorials ignore the facts (letter critical of the Obama administration, 86 comments)

- Hailey gets ultimatum on Colorado Gulch (85 comments; news story about controversy over the right to use a popular recreational trail that cuts through private property)

- Did school board hold 'secret' meetings? (80 comments; news story about School District trustees' holding seven special sessions with little public notice)

- In defense of Stennett (79 comments; letter clarifying voting record of Michelle Stennett)

Stories that were e-mailed the most:

- Complex rescue saves man thrown from horse (71 times; news story about backcountry rescue)

- Cat makes 'incredible journey' (61 times; news story about cat that traveled 23 miles in five weeks to make its way home)

- Mountain lion attacks dogs in Bellevue (60 times; news story on Fish and Game's tracking of large cat that harassed dogs in Bellevue)

- Cougar at the door (57 times; news story about a mountain lion that broke into a Gimlet house)

- Local birders report rare sightings (56 times; news story about a rare hooded crane spotted near Carey)

- Ketchum loses one of its own (48 times; obituary of Tim Michaels, killed in a Bald Mountain avalanche)

- Tech, media moguls descend upon Sun Valley (47 times; news story on Allen & Co.'s return to Sun Valley)

- Blackout blamed on 'perfect storm' of events (46 times; news story on Christmas Day power outage)

- Far below and behind (44 times; news story reporting that Sun Valley's and Ketchum's economies are in worse shape than other Western resort towns)

- Timothy Appleton (43 times; obituary of well-known local)

We want to hear from our readers in 2011. To leave a comment or send an e-mail, log onto Check the website daily for breaking news and news updates.

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