John Adams

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: Sad reporters? Not at the Butte Press Club


It was reported last week that a survey of job satisfaction in the United States ranked newspaper reporter at the very bottom of the list for the third year in a row. You’d never have guessed it Friday evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Uptown Butte, site of the annual meeting of the Butte Press Club. There was some talk about the dismal state of print journalism, but the prevailing mood was anything but gloomy. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: 3 cheers for state’s growing online news


Talking to Martin Kidston last week, I almost felt as though I was interviewing myself again. The former Missoulian reporter quit his job at the end of December and launched an online newspaper, Missoula Current, in early January. “I just decided I didn’t want to work for a corporate paper,” he said. “It’s a broken template, really.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: On reptiles, patsies and Founding Fathers


In the midst of one of the strangest, most outlandish, stark-ravingly maddest election cycles in the history of the United States, a surprising number of voters have turned to me for guidance. I was tempted to tell them all to take two aspirin and go to bed until the third week of November, but that seemed a trifle irresponsible. So, I will attempt to answer all the questions to the best of my limited abilities. Here goes. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Papers go dark when news is about them


If you are still an old-fashioned reader of Montana newspapers published by Lee Enterprises, then you missed last week’s most intriguing story. News that Lee was closing its Capitol bureau this week and letting go two of the state’s most respected journalists, Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, appeared first on the front page of the Great Falls Tribune. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Second time’s no charm: Lee papers shutter State Bureau

The news is out that news coverage in Montana is taking a huge hit. Lee Newspapers is closing its State Bureau in Helena, the Great Falls Tribune has reported, and KXLH TV in Helena has a story that adds some details. Chuck Johnson, who has been covering Montana politics for more than 40 years, will take a buyout and retire. Mike Dennison, who has done the same kind of reporting for almost 25 years, will be taking a buyout while he looks for a new job. I couldn’t reach Johnson, but Dennison told me Lee offered the two veteran reporters continued employment—if they would accept quite substantial pay cuts. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Good news, bad news & lipstick on a pig


There’s lots of news about the news in Montana, though some of it is rather old by now. The most surprising news, to me, is that the Montana Standard in Butte has hired David McCumber as its new editor. The Standard, where I landed my first newspaper job 35 years ago, has had a lot of editors in its long history, but for decades most of its editors have come from within Lee Enterprises, the Iowa-based chain that owns the Standard (and the Billings Gazette). (more…) Continue Reading →

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GOP caucus definitely dumb, likely illegal


For the record, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to prohibit Montana legislators from caucusing in private. I’m all for the public’s right to know, for making public documents available to the public, for making sure public bodies conduct their business in public. But caucuses? Traditionally those have been strategy-setting sessions involving members of a political party. Making caucuses public is like allowing the defense to sit in on the offense’s huddle. Continue Reading →

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The pleasure of voting for Mike Wheat


In almost every election there is something on the ballot I feel good about voting for or against, something to balance my cynical distaste for politics. A few years ago it was the chance to vote for our beautiful new library. When I pass it now I can say to myself, “I built that,” and it’s kind of true, in a way. In other elections, during the time I was covering the City Council, I could for vote for an incumbent I knew from experience to be a good public servant—or against one I knew to be an annoying jackass. (more…) Continue Reading →

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