Lee Enterprises Practices Destructive Capitalism on the Independent Record


KXLH is reporting that the Independent Record has laid off yet another round of workers:

The Helena Independent Record has laid off a handful of employees.

Staff members have confirmed that some positions have been entirely eliminated while others are being offered relocation packages.

But don’t worry, fans of American corporations and corporate malfeasance. The woman whose incredibly bad decisions have gutted the IR’s parent company Lee Enterprises, won’t be suffering, as the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported today:

Getting Lee Enterprises through bankruptcy earned a $500,000 bonus for Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck, according to a new company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The compensation committee of Lee’s board of directors awarded the bonus to Junck, along with a $250,000 bonus to chief financial officer Carl Schmidt.

That’s an impressive display of American capitalism right there. Junck drove the formerly healthy company into bankruptcy through her mismanagement before getting a cool half million dollars for “getting” the company through her failure.

I can’t even imagine what another round of cuts will look like at the Independent Record, which is becoming a shell of a newspaper, despite making a profit on its own. It’s pretty tough to put out a quality product when you don’t have enough staff to do the job and now it appears they IR will have even fewer hands on deck.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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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Gabby Johnson
Gabby Johnson

Bruce Saylor, sports editor in Butte and a 36-year Lee veteran, was also laid off a few years short of his retirement today.


Far be it from me to defend Lee, and I agree with most everything in this post and comments, but it should be noted that the print media are in rapid decline. It's not just bad management practices but a loss of subscribers and advertisers in this new information age. I know that neither of my kids get a daily newspaper — all their info comes from the Internet. Will laying off valued staff accelerate this downward spiral? Without a doubt. But it's tough times for even the most enlightened of newspaper companies. I worry about where we'll be getting… Read more »


Incredibly disappointing. Now, more than ever, Montana news strong “mainstream” news outlets, but the opposite is happening. Best of luck to those that remain employed at the IR and those that are now looking for jobs. Knew things were bad when Duran left…

James Conner

When I was in J-school, and that was some time ago, we were taught that the business objective was a profit with honor — and that without profit, there could be no honor because a paper couldn't afford to cover the news well. That still makes sense, and still should be the objective of ownership. Pete's right that times have changed, and that the demographics for print newspapers become less favorable every day. But that doesn't mean that newspapers no longer can run in the black. The biggest threat newspapers face is changing demographics in the readership, it's the greed… Read more »

James Conner

Correction: substitute "is not changing" for "is changing" in the second paragraph.

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