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Freshly arrived writer overwhelmed by Montana crime news

Cuffs

A recently arrived resident of Missoula has noticed a curious thing: that exposure to Montana’s daily newspapers makes one keenly, alarmingly aware of local crime. Anne Helen Petersen, the author of these musings, is a bit more than a casual observer. She is a native of Idaho who covers the West for Buzzfeed, who wrote one of the best, most thoughtful pieces on the special election that resulted in Greg Gianforte’s ascension to the House of Representatives. (more…) Continue Reading →

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On the way out, a Lee publisher blasts the home office

Rush

In my Prairie Lights column this Sunday, I wrote about the same-day endorsements of U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte in three Montana daily newspapers, all of them owned by Lee Enterprises. I said that in my many years with Lee I had never seen any “overt attempts at corporate dictation, or even of political collusion among several Lee papers.” I hope it was clear that my reference to corporate dictation referred only to matters of political endorsements and such. In other matters—those that most closely affect readers—there was never-ending corporate control, and apparently it’s only getting worse. In a remarkable good-bye column published Friday, Chris Rush announced to readers of The World, a Lee-owned newspaper in Coos Bay, Ore., that he was stepping down as publisher. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A 2nd opinion on that triple endorsement

Adam

Unsurprisingly, three Montana daily newspapers, all owned by Lee Enterprises, have come out in support of Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in the special election to fill Montana’s vacant (and only) seat in the U.S. House. You can read what the editorial boards of the Billings Gazette, the Missoulian and the Helena Independent-Record had to say, or you could just glance at one of them, because they all said essentially the same thing: that in these perilous times we need somebody who can get right to work, which they claim Gianforte is ready to do. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A big loss for independent news in Montana

Funder

Even if you live in Eastern Montana and have never heard of, much less read, the Missoula Independent, you ought to be worried about the fate of that alternative weekly newspaper. The Indy, which has been around for more than 25 years, has had its ups and downs, but generally speaking it was a worthy successor to the underground and alternative newspapers that came before it, and which made Missoula the only city in Montana with a real tradition of that sort of journalism. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Bought by Lee, will Missoula Independent live up to name?

Lee

Missoula Independent Matt Gibson said on Thursday that he chose to sell his business to Lee Enterprises to tap the corporation’s technical capabilities, adding that the Indy’s new partnership with the Missoulian will remain a work in progress as the weeks unfold. On Thursday morning, the Missoulian announced that its corporate owner, Lee Enterprises, had bought the Missoula Independent for an undisclosed price. The announcement that took the community by surprise. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Gazette publisher named to lead Missoulian, too

MG

Mike Gulledge was named publisher of the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic Wednesday as part of a regionalized management restructuring. Gulledge also serves as publisher of the Billings Gazette and as operating vice president for the Missoulian’s parent company, Lee Enterprises. According to a press release from Lee, “The move is part of a trend in Lee that includes regionalizing some operational aspects of the business, especially in markets that have similarities or are located near each other, while maintaining intense focus on local news and advertising.” This week, the Missoulian eliminated half of its daily news and feature sections, moving from a four-part paper to a two-part publication, eliminating a number of local stories and columns in the process. The daily editorial page dropped from two pages to one page on Monday through Friday, with two pages on Sunday. Continue Reading →

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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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Lee goes native with Wisconsin company

Lee Enterprises, Montana’s media behemoth, has purchased a share of Okanjo, a native commerce company in Milwaukee, Wis. Native commerce has nothing to do with business on the reservation. It’s a technique for presenting ads on web pages so they blend seamlessly with news content. Lee’s investment in Okanjo was announced in May, but the two companies had been working together for a year, according to an article in the August issue of Editor & Publisher. The size of Lee’s investment and its stake in the company were not disclosed. Continue Reading →

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Billings Gazette’s new redesign, explained

Somebody was wondering the other day why the Billings Gazette had not announced its new redesign. Good question. The redesign rolled out on July 22, when I was in Texas, so I figured I had just missed the announcement. But going back through the paper, I see no mention of the changes that day, or the next, or on the Sunday opinion pages. Google also didn’t help. Continue Reading →

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Independent looks at state’s newspaper landscape

What happens when a small town loses its local newspaper? Derek Brouwer, a former Billings Gazette reporter now working for the weekly Missoula Independent, attempts to answer that question in a front-page story published yesterday. He writes of the demise of the Bigfork Eagle, which went from independent ownership to becoming a property of Lee Enterprises (publisher of the Gazette, the Missoulian and a few other Montana papers) and then of Duane Hagadone, the owner of a regional media conglomerate. Along the way, Brouwer looks at the venerable Choteau Acantha, a much-respected little paper that has been publishing in Teton County for 123 years. (One of its editors was A.B. Guthrie’s father, and Guthrie worked there as a boy, in the capacity of printer’s devil, a term so old I’m not even sure what it means.)

The article covers a lot of familiar ground—Facebook is the new small-town newspaper, print is nearly obsolete, etc.—but from a purely Montana perspective. Continue Reading →

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