Mike Gulledge

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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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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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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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Lee brass insulated from ‘change of ownership’ impacts

Junck

Finally, some good news from Lee Enterprises. In the midst of stories about layoffs, cutbacks, consolidated “design centers,” smaller papers and higher prices, we learn that there is enough money floating around Lee to upgrade the top executives’ parachutes from golden to platinum. In truth, I don’t know how big the upgrades are, and I suppose it is even within the realm of possibility that the rewards for these folks have been reduced. But that would run counter to every single action taken by the company’s board of directors in the last 15 years. Here’s what we do know: Jim Romenesko, the mostly retired media blogger, reported last week that under an SEC filing dated Dec. Continue Reading →

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In the face of failure, Meth Project touts ‘success’

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Nine years after the Montana Meth Project was founded, nine years after millions of dollars were spent to saturate the state with horrifying images (and to enrich countless publishers, TV executives, billboard companies, etc.), meth use is said to be making a huge comback in Montana and is the No. 1 public safety threat in Billings. What can we do? “We need to expand this ‘Not Even Once’ message,” said Montana Meth Project Executive Director Amy Rue, referring to the group campaign targeted at teens. “We need to extend the message to adults.”

I don’t know if the Montana Meth Project is entirely privately funded these days, but if it isn’t my own slogan would be “Not Even One Dime in Public Money.” Continue Reading →

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