The news just keeps getting worse and it’s breaking my heart.
The final blow was this. It’s an all-important story about the Kardashians, America’s most hyped family and their recent trip to Montana. No need for that boring, in-depth reporting on state government or Montana politics. Give the people what they want.
Here’s a short chronology on how my heart got broken this past week:
Last Thursday, it was revealed that Lee Enterprises was closing its office in the Capitol and canning its state bureau staff (what else would you call it when the two reporters are told to reapply for their jobs at lower wages?).
Then there’s the Independent Record‘s trolling of Intelligent Discontent’s very own Don Pogreba.
Then this Missoulian story about Lee Enterprises suing former publisher Jim McGowan and a few ex-sales people (but no news stories yet on the state bureau layoffs). Back in my marketing and advertising days, two of the saleswomen listed in the suit were my sales reps. They were sharp, committed, industrious folks.
Then there is the where’s Sherry rumor, as in Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin. Ms. Devlin is one of the Missoulian‘s biggest cheerleaders, always doing management’s bidding under trying circumstances and working her butt off for the paper. Her departure would be shocking.
Finally, there’s the above Kardashian story. According to Billings Gazette Editor Darrell Ehrlich, instead of focusing on state government and politicians, the new state bureau reporters should look at news on an “issue and regional level.” Let’s hope the Kardashian piece isn’t a sample of what’s to come.
All this is bad news for anyone wanting information on politics and government instead of breaking stories on celebrity breast implants. For me, personally, it’s crushing, and although I’ve always thought injecting family history into posts is tacky, the following might give the reader some context into my heartbreak. My grandfather, Don Anderson, negotiated the deal that brought the Anaconda Company’s papers (a major part of the “Copper Collar”) into the Lee Enterprises fold. My father, John Talbot, was publisher of the Missoulian in the 1970s and early 80s. To the best of my recollection, he took an early retirement when Lee Enterprises asked him to move to Davenport, Iowa, for a management position at the company’s headquarters (good choice, Dad). He’s loath to talk about it but I imagine his heart is breaking, too, at what’s become of Montana’s newspapers. I was going to follow in the family footsteps but part way through journalism school I realized that I took notes poorly, hated doing research, and wrote slowly and not that well (so I blog!).
Which is really scary, because, you don’t want to get your news from me. I’ve broken a couple of stories but usually I’m offering up jaded analysis and opinion.
I think Missoula Independent’s opinion writer, Dan Brooks, summed it up best:
There is a difference between what I do and reportage. The difference is the good people of Montana can produce their own opinions without people like me, but without people like (state bureau reporters) Johnson and Dennison, they cannot produce their own facts.
It’s a downward spiral, and the internet and blogs have become news’ worst enemy. Former state bureau reporter Mike Dennison had this to say:
The Internet is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have the information, but the Internet has undercut newspapers’ entire revenue plan, and that’s what’s leading to these types of decisions.
So, as a blogger, I guess I’m partly responsible for the demise of the daily. Funny thing is, I’m as addicted to the dead tree edition that is delivered every morning as I am to my first cup of coffee. I much prefer reading the news, opinions, box scores, comics, etc. in that format. But I’m not sure for how much longer.