Chuck johnson

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: Inspired by Lee, a job posting of our own


They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s why I’m posting a job description today in place of the regular column. I’m really not in any position yet to take on an employee, but I was so impressed with the job descriptions posted by the Lee newspapers of Montana that I felt compelled to write my own. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

A sad passing, a sorry job posting

In Montana newspaper news, two items today. The Native American Journalists Association is reporting the death of Bonnie Clincher Red Elk, whom the association hailed as “a true champion for freedom of the press in Indian Country.” She sounded like a courageous, remarkable woman. The NAJA said she founded the Fort Peck Journal in 2006, after the then-tribal chairman removed her as editor of the official newspaper of the Fort Peck Tribes. Last year, the association presented her with its Wassaja Award, “given in recognition of journalists’ and publications’ dedication to continuing to report the news in the face of challenge and even threat.” Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

David Crisp: Mortification, then sweet vindication


Well, I screwed that up. Such was the eloquent sentence that I imagined last week might begin this column. I had just written a piece on the closing of Lee Enterprises’ Capitol bureau, and in it I had made what I thought was the original observation that none of the Lee papers in Montana had reported the closing. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Prairie Lights: Don’t blame Lee’s bad moves on the Web


I suppose it’s still possible that Billings Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick, in his Sunday column, will formally salute Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, the two experienced reporters whose last day as employees of Lee Enterprises was Friday. With more than 70 years of reporting experience between them, Lee’s Capitol bureau team certainly deserved a proper send-off. But because Lee treated them so shabbily, and because it seems to believe that closing the bureau is merely a cosmetic change in the way it covers the news, a proper tribute seems most unlikely. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Gazette acknowledges bureau closure, more or less

In David Crisp’s column this morning, he said he was unable to find any references in any of Montana’s Lee newspapers to the Great Falls Tribune story about the closing of Lee’s Capitol bureau. In David’s defense, he did say he couldn’t find any such reference “as of this writing,” which was Tuesday night. In fact, as I have just belatedly discovered, there are references to the bureau shutdown in the Billings Gazette today. Oddly enough, however, all of them are on the opinion page—guest editorials from Jim Elliott and James Nelson and a letter to the editor from Don and Mary Ann Dunwell. As far as I know, the Lee papers have yet to run a news story on the decision to close the bureau and send their two excellent reporters, Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, packing. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Papers go dark when news is about them


If you are still an old-fashioned reader of Montana newspapers published by Lee Enterprises, then you missed last week’s most intriguing story. News that Lee was closing its Capitol bureau this week and letting go two of the state’s most respected journalists, Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, appeared first on the front page of the Great Falls Tribune. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Second time’s no charm: Lee papers shutter State Bureau

The news is out that news coverage in Montana is taking a huge hit. Lee Newspapers is closing its State Bureau in Helena, the Great Falls Tribune has reported, and KXLH TV in Helena has a story that adds some details. Chuck Johnson, who has been covering Montana politics for more than 40 years, will take a buyout and retire. Mike Dennison, who has done the same kind of reporting for almost 25 years, will be taking a buyout while he looks for a new job. I couldn’t reach Johnson, but Dennison told me Lee offered the two veteran reporters continued employment—if they would accept quite substantial pay cuts. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

The pleasure of voting for Mike Wheat


In almost every election there is something on the ballot I feel good about voting for or against, something to balance my cynical distaste for politics. A few years ago it was the chance to vote for our beautiful new library. When I pass it now I can say to myself, “I built that,” and it’s kind of true, in a way. In other elections, during the time I was covering the City Council, I could for vote for an incumbent I knew from experience to be a good public servant—or against one I knew to be an annoying jackass. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,