Flathead Beacon

Recent Posts

From the Guardian, a look at the future of local news

Kathleen McLaughlin, whose reporting career has included a stint with the Lee Newspapers state bureau, wrote a great piece for The Guardian about the steady decline of newspapers devoted to covering local news. The story is full of good, thought-provoking stuff, but here’s the gist of it:
“The real crisis in American journalism is not technological, it’s geographic,” said Tom Rosentiel, fellow at the Brookings Institution who founded and ran for 16 years the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center. “The crisis is that local journalism is shrinking. I wouldn’t say it’s dying but it’s the most threatened.”

This is certainly true in Montana, where a recent study found that people get their news online, but still gravitate most toward the websites of their local papers and television stations. Local press isn’t dead, but it’s fragmented and weakened. Continue Reading →

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Calling on John Wayne to confront a bigot

Molly Priddy, a reporter for the Flathead Beacon who did an internship at the Billings Gazette when I still worked there, recently summoned her inner cowboy to stand up to a homophobic man at a Whitefish restaurant. Writing in The Guardian, Priddy tells of how she and her wife, out to dinner with two other women who had just gotten engaged, overheard the anti-gay mutterings of the man at the next table. At first she wasn’t sure how to respond. But within seconds, I settled on the answer I already knew I would, the one I’d learned from my Montana upbringing: I was going to stand up to this guy. Framed in the blush of my face, my eyes caught his. Continue Reading →

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The strange case of a home-grown terrorist


A lengthy report on what happened in the legal system after a Kalispell resident threatened repeatedly to slaughter schoolchildren was published online Thursday by Political Research Associates. Headlined “Racial Double Standards in a Mass Shooting Threat Case: David Lenio & White Nationalism,” the piece by Jonathan Hutson argues that Lenio was treated leniently—and even had his guns returned by the state of Montana—because our judicial system routinely tolerates activities on the part of white terrorists which, if indulged in by, say, a person of Middle Eastern extraction or Islamic background, would bring down swift punishment. (more…) 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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