Columbia Journalism Review

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Independent staff weighs in on sale to Lee

Lee

As promised, the staff of the Missoula Independent has written extensively about the sale of the newspaper to Lee Enterprises, the national chain that owns the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette. The coverage includes news stories, a Q&A section with some damned hilarious segments, an editorial from publisher Matt Gibson and a damned hilarious column from Dan Brooks. (His column also highlights the chief danger of satire: I’m not absolutely sure he was joking about this being his last column.)

It’s all good stuff, even if a faint air of whistling in the graveyard hangs over the issue. Everyone involved wants desperately to believe that Lee will live up to its promise of hands-off ownership, wants to believe its assurances that the Indy’s tradition of hard-nosed reporting on the Missoulian is something that has to continue. There were more than a few signs of writers pushing the boundaries right out of the gate, to see what will be tolerated in the new era. Continue Reading →

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The Flathead Beacon, another model for journalism’s future

Adding to my Prairie Lights column on the growing online newspaper scene in Montana, here’s a good article from the Columbia Journalism Review about the Flathead Beacon. The Beacon is a weekly newspaper published in Kalispell, so it doesn’t quite fit in with the other news outlets I wrote about, but the Beacon also happens to have a really strong Web presence. The online Beacon is slick, clean and easy to use, with a feel something like that of the Missoula Independent’s website. Both, it goes without saying, are far better than what the designers at Lee or Gannett have come up with. The Beacon and the Indy show what happens when you start with the readers, not your ad department, in mind. Continue Reading →

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Media magazine takes a look at bureau closure

The Columbia Journalism Review, the premier publication covering American media, posted a story today about what lies ahead, now that Lee Enterprises has closed its Capitol bureau. I spoke twice with the reporter, Corey Hutchins, who told me, as he says in the article: “In discussions about statewide alternatives, the name I heard most often was another former Lee reporter: Ed Kemmick. After a quarter century as a reporter and editor for the Billings Gazette, Kemmick started a website, Last Best News, in early 2014.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As I used to like telling people when I worked at the Gazette: “I’m the Sunday columnist for the biggest paper in the fourth-largest state in the most powerful country in the world.” Continue Reading →

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