Thursday, December 27, 2007

Time for top lists

You always know it must be near the end of the year when all the lists come out.

Top 10 news stories. Top 10 weather disasters. Who died. Who won awards. Who were the best dressed, worst dressed, best movies, worst movies, which celebrity marriages fell apart, which famous people got married.

In this week's Capital Press, we give the top ag stories. You can see them online at on Dec. 28, or check out this week's issue of the newspaper. We also have 12 editorial cartoons, done by Rik Dalvit, that reflect some of the biggest ag stories.

In our case, we published a list of stories and asked our readers to rank them so we got our top list. Other publications have also asked their readers to help figure out which stories were the most important.

Other places use their own staff, or outside experts, to select the top stories of the year.

As someone who pays attention to the news — whether online, in newspapers, on the radio, or on television — how do you want your news to be ranked for the year? Do you want to have a chance to vote, or do you prefer the news organization (or its experts) do the ranking? Which lists would you trust more — the ones decided by the media, or the ones decided by the public?

And perhaps the biggest question of all: Do you even pay attention to these lists? What do you think of them? Are they meaningful or amusing to you, or a waste of time?

Perhaps one of the lessons to be learned is that lists can be influenced by so many things. For example, what a farmer thinks should be in the top 10 might most important events of the year might not make a list for someone who lives in a city. Or what we in America think is big news might be ignored in other parts of the world.

And sometimes some of the biggest stories might happen at the last moment during the year, and not make the list just because of deadlines, a voting process held earlier, or other reasons.

In the case of our newspaper, we were already voting on our top stories at the time the big winds, heavy rains, and resulting floods were creating havoc in Washington and Oregon — so we didn't have it in our list of choices.

Or look at today's political assassination in Pakistan — it might have huge ramifications internationally, but how many lists will it make in this weekend's special Sunday editions of newspapers? And where?

We're curious to hear your thoughts — whether or not you voted on our news list or any other one out there.

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