Missoula Independent

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Prairie Lights: A 2nd opinion on that triple endorsement


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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Dates set for 2 House candidate Facebook town halls

Forward Montana is still waiting to hear from Greg Gianforte, but the other two candidates for the state’s sole U.S. House seat have scheduled Facebook Live town halls. As we reported earlier this month, Forward Montana has teamed up with Last Best News and the Missoula Independent to sponsor the town halls. Democratic candidate Rob Quist and Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks will be featured in hour-long town halls moderated by Alex Sakariassen of the Missoula Independent, who will be asking questions submitted by readers. Some questions have been submitted already, but we could use some more, so please go to https://goo.gl/forms/Y3CN9ZJXPVhf66zm1 and submit yours. Forward Montana, a youth-advocacy group whose slogan is “Not right, not left, but forward,” has not yet been able to schedule a town hall with Gianforte, the Republican candidate for the House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke when he became secretary of the Interior. Continue Reading →

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Independent staff weighs in on sale to 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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Prairie Lights: A big loss for independent news in Montana


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?


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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‘Passed away’ sneaking into newspaper lexicon


I couldn’t get past this sports headline in the June 25 Billings Gazette: “Three-time NFR qualifier Bill Parker passes at 62.”

I didn’t know Bill Parker and mean him no disrespect. But “passes”? A quarterback passes. A point guard passes. Even an offensive lineman with a C-minus average passes. 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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Waiting for governor’s race to be about something

One of my favorite Montana columnists, Dan Brooks, who writes for the Missoula Independent, has a good piece out about the governor’s race. So far, he says, the contest between sitting Gov. Steve Bullock and his Republican challenger, Greg Gianforte, has boiled down to partisan attacks on Bullock for using the governor’s plane for personal matters and partisan attacks on Gianforte for a lawsuit he filed nearly 10 years ago to kill an easement that gave the public access to the East Gallatin River across his family’s property. Both things really did happen, Brooks writes—Gianforte did file a suit and Bullock did apparently overuse that plane—but neither camp has made much of a case for what either candidate will actually do if elected next fall. “What’s the hot idea out of Bullock for Governor right now, besides that Greg Gianforte tried to shut down a beach?” Brooks asks. Continue Reading →

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Story spills the beans on former Missoulian editor


The Missoula Independent is reporting some details about the Missoulian editor who resigned earlier this week, after being suspended for bringing a gun to work. From the sounds of it, Matt Bunk’s brief tenure at the newspaper was such a disaster that his showing up in the newsroom packing heat gave the powers that be an opportunity to get rid of him with little fear of being sued again. Here’s the key paragraph: “Current staffers and former reporters who spoke with the Indy this week describe a newsroom that was nearing revolt against an editor who they say bullied reporters and routinely threatened their jobs during disagreements. Some say they expected further resignations, or even a walkout, had Bunk been permitted to return.” Much of the blame lies with Missoulian Publisher Mark Heintzelman, who hired Bunk seven months ago after demoting longtime editor Sherry Devlin, who later resigned and sued the newspaper for wrongful discharge. Continue Reading →

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