West Yellowstone gets new paper

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-3-24-32-pmThe West Yellowstone News is dead. Long live the West Yellowstone Star.

West Yellowstone News Editor Jeremy Weber penned a farewell column last week for the News, which closed its doors after 30 years in business. One day earlier, Weber announced on his Facebook page that he was starting the Star, with the first issue to be out “in a week or two.”

Weber will edit the new paper, he said, and Mike Moore will stay on as reporter. It will be owned by the publishers of the Ennis Madisonian, Susanne Hill and Erin Leonard. The Madisonian, which bills itself as Montana’s oldest weekly, has been publishing since 1873.

Big Sky Publishing announced in August that it was closing the 30-year-old West Yellowstone News. Big Sky Publishing is owned by Pioneer News Group, which also owns the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Belgrade News.

Stephanie Pressly, president of Big Sky Publishing, said in an Associated Press story that the paper never recovered from the 2008 recession. The company considered keeping an online edition but decided that also would be a money loser, she said.

The West Yellowstone News won the Montana Newspaper Association award for general excellence in its division in 2015.

In his farewell column for the News, Weber wrote, “Newspapers come and go. I have seen more than my fair share of them close down over the years. The beautiful thing is that the news never stops.”

Weber said he came to West Yellowstone from Texas 27 months ago. He wrote, “I still feel that West Yellowstone is where I belong and where I was meant to be. It is my intention to stay here, if I can.”

A petition at change.org that was dedicated to saving the News garnered 161 supporters.

The petition said, in part, “Because of the towns isolation and small population, It provides the only source of local news and the only source of local journalism covering local issues, town government, local business, and the West Yellowstone school.”

Weber’s announcement of the new paper drew comments on his Facebook page such as “AWESOME!,” “Congrats!” and “Hooray!!!!!!!”

Not everybody was so supportive. Announcement of the News’ closure on the Flathead Beacon website drew this comment from Greg Strandberg, who blogs at Big Sky Words and is also a frequent commenter at Last Best News: “So what?

“I get my news online for free, and most others do too. It’s not my problem the industry hasn’t been able to figure out how to deal with this. … I don’t care – their reporting is shoddy now as it is. That has a tendency to happen when you get a bunch of entitled journalism majors that feel the world owes them something.

“It doesn’t.”

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