The Media

The Independent Record: Now This Is Embarrassing

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When the Independent Record and the other Montana newspapers are reduced to running stories designed to reassure readers that Lee Enterprises is doing just fine almost weekly, it’s embarrassing and not terribly convincing.

The latest story goes beyond embarrassment to absurdity. Why? Because despite reading like a personal message from the interim publisher to the readers, it’s just boilerplate copy, probably appearing in every Lee paper across the country. It’s one thing to claim that newsrooms are being cut without sacrificing coverage or that reductions in the paper’s size are temporary responses to a challenging economy, but it’s quite another, in the age of easy Internet access, to insult your readers with a faux ‘personal’ message like this.

Jim Rickman, interim publisher, Independent Record, today:

Just in case you’ve heard some of the uninformed speculation in a few circles, I’d like to give you an update on the financial health of our parent company.

For more than 140 years, we have served the Helena community as, by far, the primary source of local news, information and advertising. To this day, we reach 79 percent of the adults in this market, with strength across all age groups in print as well as online.

We’ll match our experienced newsroom with any of our size in the country.

Rick Emanuel, publisher, Glens Falls Post Star, yesterday:

Just in case you’ve heard some of the uninformed speculation in a few circles, I’d like to give you an update on the financial health of our parent company.

For many years, we have served our community as the primary source of local news, information and advertising.

To this day, we reach more than 75 percent of the adults in this market, with strength across all age groups in print as well as online.

We’ll match our experienced newsroom with any of our size in the country.

Nathan Bekke, publisher, Casper Star Tribune, Friday:

Just in case you’ve heard some of the uninformed speculation in a few circles, I’d like to give you an update on the financial health of our parent company.

For more than 117 years, we have served Wyoming as, by far, the primary source of local news, information and advertising. To this day, we reach 80 percent of the adults in our local market, with strength across all age groups in print as well as online.

We’ll match our experienced newsroom with any of our size in the country.

I wonder who would win if they were forced to match the experienced newsrooms of Casper, Helena, and Glen Falls in a copy cage match. I really feel for the people working in newsrooms across the state, even if I occasionally disagree with some of their coverage. I admire a few of them, either as a writers or reporters. But more than anything, I pity them, for working for such a hapless collection of corporate drones, people who treat their readers and their newspapers (many with fine historical legacies) with such contempt.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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