Missoulian

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Opinion: Should newspapers even make endorsements?

Martin Kidston

When I was a kid growing up, my stepfather often warned that I not let my “canary mouth override my alligator ass.” In other words, sometimes it’s a good idea to keep your opinions quiet and avoid biting off more than you can chew. I rarely listened, but it might have been good advice for the Missoulian, which is picking up the pieces today from its endorsement of congressional candidate Greg Gianforte on Sunday. The fallout over that endorsement caused a rapid backlash on social media and the cancellation of numerous subscriptions. (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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Story spills the beans on former Missoulian editor

Rock

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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Missoulian editor Bunk reportedly resigns

Bunk

The Missoula Current is reporting that Matt Bunk, the Missoulian editor suspended two weeks ago after bringing a concealed weapon to work in violation of company policy, has resigned. Martin Kidston, the founder of the Current, said his sources were newspaper employees and that no other information was available Monday night. As Kidston also reported, Bunk was named editor of the Missoulian only last August by publisher Mark Heintzelman. And Heintzelman had been on the job not quite a year himself when he hired Bunk away from a twice-weekly paper in Libby. Bunk was hired after former Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin was demoted, and she later filed a lawsuit in District Court, saying she had been unjustly demoted and replaced by a less-qualified male. Continue Reading →

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Pistol-packing editor says gun was an antique

M.B.

Following up on a story broken by the Missoula Current, the Missoula Independent has new details on the suspension of Missoulian editor Matt Bunk, who violated company policy by bringing a gun to work. Indy reporter Derek Brouwer (formerly a reporter for the Billings Gazette) writes: “In a personal Facebook post he shared Monday with the Indy, Bunk says the incident involved an antique handgun his girlfriend recently gave him as an engagement gift. The editor says he has a concealed carry permit and often wears a gun, but forgot to remove it from his hip before entering the office one day. ‘Someone pointed it out, and I put it back in my car immediately,’ he wrote.” The Missoulian, like the Gazette, is owned by Lee Enterprises, and Brouwer points out that the “antique firearm” excuse wasn’t good enough for another editor at a Lee newspaper. Continue Reading →

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A sad look at the legions of older ex-journalists

Scene

I don’t want to be too depressing on a Saturday morning, but maybe if you never worked in the newspaper business this story will only be interesting, rather than terribly sad. It’s about how tens of thousands of older reporters, editors and photographers have been put out to pasture in recent years as the newspaper industry has withered with accelerating speed. Most of the examples deal with people who worked at much bigger papers than we have here in Montana, but their stories sound awfully familiar. One trend mentioned in the article is that women are being targeted disproportionately when it comes to layoffs. “One woman downsized from the Post,” the writer said, “told me that she ‘always got good reviews and often got raises’ in all of her years at the paper. Continue Reading →

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