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An Info Parody About the Future of Media in Montana: A Guest Post

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Readers of and with intelligent discontent;

What follows is a kind of a spoof in three parts!

All composed anonymously, for a garden variety of reasons.

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Dear People in Montana:

Acting as your ideal Governor, and ideal Attorney General, we have read the recent Newspapers, we are indeed quite concerned how to promptly protect the Public Interest; now that LEE newspapers in Helena, Hamilton, Billings, Butte and Missoula, are suddenly without benefit of a very experienced State news Bureau.

So we separately rounded up some very special Aides and all sat down together around the brown oval table. (Some of us had already talked this through after the Gannett owned Great Falls Tribune terminated its’ State news bureau.)

(1.) We all started talking about how come this happened so fast, is it fair, just, LEGAL, and what are the combined consequences? Take out the “News” in Newspapers. Put in place Cub reporters doing personality profiles for social media on mobile units? FINALLY, more profile features with warm/friendly tones and hues presenting the oil and gas business in Montana. More or less Ochenski?

That’s when the financial analyst entered the historic room and mentored us that LEE (NYSE) share price is nearly forty times Earnings Per Share. Cost cutting the State Bureau part of the LEE product line, will pass incremental profit earnings to Davenport and perhaps toward LEE bondholders also shareholders.

Also offer sequential benefits to a Buyer of MT Lee papers. More earnings per share. Much more ability to select and to staff a downsized State News operation serving Helena, Billings, Butte, and Missoula. While upsizing mobile views and news for generations yet to come. Generations depending upon media presented information and opinion protected by free speech. Bloggers may or may not become protected by free speech.

Newspapers have free speech protection equivalent to personal free speech protection. Newspapers put capital to work, knowing that capitalization will be protected by free speech tradition and Law.

That’s why the financial analyst laid down wild cards. What kind of investment entity might want to acquire one or more of those five LEE newspapers + sustainably profitable Info Services packaged for people using mobile phones and tablets?

What if USA and world GDP stays low, yield curves slide downward, and QE inflated frothy stock markets go from Bull to Bear?

Looking forward, what entity would want to hold OR to buy, Mobile Views & News + Newspapers in Montana for the next Election cycle? For next decade? For the next generations? Finally the analyst concluded his sing song ode, and we two men put our legal heads together. Here are some of the mini-odes of our own thinking.

Indeed, the Murdoch organization might become interested in acquiring MT print/digital platforms informing of local news, entertainments, and sports. One of us maintained that either Greg Gianforte or Charles Koch would do much better than would Murdoch. The other thought Dirk Adams might help initiate a MT buyers group to evaluate one or more of the printed Dailies + new growth sector, INFO SERVICES: Mobile entertainment/views/news/social media!

Then we got the bright, lyrical idea, maybe best to call the Legislature back into Session to darn well consider combined consequences of actions by Gannett(GCI) and Lee Industries (LEE), suddenly, without explanation, by corporate fiats, radically reducing Journalistic reporting about governance of Montana. With occasional journalism about Legislation in Congress.

Maybe Session #64 was the last Session with journalism of a free Press, serving the right of the Public to be informed and to read opinions. So we’re looking into how Montana Law might help protect those two fundamental rights of our US Constitution. Can they be diminished by corporate fiat? Caprice? Capitulation? Treating the five Newspapers as sellable commodities?

We start thinking and talking and making lyrics that the Legislature should get informed, sense the will of the people, call itself back into Session, and darn well consider if there has been unreasonable TAKING. A taking away of Journalism about governance. A unilateral taking away of the right of free speech by Journalists. An authoritarian assumption of some unknown corporate right to by decree, act to simultaneously diminish free Press also free speech.

Free speech by long trusted Journalists! TAKEN AWAY from the peoples of Montana. A sudden TRAGEDY. The taking away of the two most trusted newspaper Journalists in Montana. Followed by recent sudden written tributes to the Journalists. Laments. Nascent public criticisms.

. . .

(2.) Very challenging stuff to think through and through, so we asked the Aides to serve us food for our thoughts. Coffee, tea and treats. Even asked the Aides what they thought.

One Aide responded: “How about if Verizon proved that text services were relatively unprofitable, so had legal precedent to cut out texting services in Montana, next month?”

Another spoke up: “How about if Montana TV Stations found it relatively profitable to cover State News but only once a week?”

“How about if internet providers . . . “

That phrase got interrupted by: “This is most difficult to think through! Wish I had a tad of brandy to put in my coffee!”

That’s when an Aide spoke up, reminding us maybe no more brandy on the shelves of the State Liquor stores. Time to take away brandy, and put in place more upscale gin, vodka, Scotch and Cognac. And more little, colorful mobile bottles that fit into a pocket.

The last Aide to speak had something interesting to say. Take back the Bakken Tax giveaway, use it to finally capitalize a Montana Bank to assist Montana Ag and Tourism. Also to help Helena and Hamilton and Billings and Butte and Bozeman and Missoula and Great Falls purchase the local newspapers.

“Problem is, there’s a lot of debt attached to the main shells of LEE MT. Remember LEE was very heavy in debt after buying Pulitzer in 2005 for 1.5 billion USD. Still is. Goldman Sachs then Berkshire Hathaway helped bail cash into LEE in the terms of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy-reorganization!” So spoke up the financial analyst.

. . .

(3.) So both of us Attorneys see good reasons to right now ask the MT Legislature to Appropriate Funds for a well designed study to see if the dominant newspapers in Montana are encumbered with unreasonable Profit/Loss goals from whatever reasons.

We could ask the Lawyers to litigate this, but far better to first ask the Legislators to Legislate how to conserve freedom of Press in Montana. Is there insufficient profit margin to maintain a Capitol Bureau in Helena? If so, then how to conserve media responsibility to offer Journalism presented information plus opinion, about the three branches of the State of Montana. Also some journalism regarding Legislation in Congress. Now and into the future.

Speaking of that, both of us Attorneys urge young people to gain standing. To tell us how much free speech and free Press they want for Montana. Tell us loud and clear that we might hear. What kind of Journalism about State doings in Helena do you want now? And for your kids? Would Murdoch type entities work to deny free speech to bloggers? How many of you read LEE Newspapers?

We all have to do more than just wonder if LEE is trying to cut way back on MT State news services, to send more money to a mix of preferred Berkshire bondholders and Preferred LEE shareholders, to satisfy possibly unreasonable Management and/or Bankruptcy Court terms and stipulations which NOW burden also harm the activities of free speech and free Press in Montana.

We have to come to know if the dominant Newspapers in Montana are unreasonably burdened by the 2011-12 Court//Goldman Sachs structured LEE bankruptcy re-organization disbursement priorities, they perhaps now granting preferences to Berkshire Hathaway, at expense of free speech and free Press in Montana.

Let go of legal language and think this through your networks, then communicate with your Legislators.

With dual sincerity,

for we wrote this letter together,

Your ideal Gov

Your ideal AG

P.S. We already have a lot of Goldman Sachs on our plates.

As leaders, our current work-study project has to do with GUESTIMATING how Montana Export operations

would be impacted by the Goldman Sachs structured TPP proposition falsely labeled as ‘free trade.’

 

GUESTIMATING how much Montana Law would be superceded by new world order courts deciding Cases setting FAIR WORLD FARE export prices for Montana foodstuffs, forestry products and fossil fuels.

 

P.S. The one of us trained in studies of Geology, is used to logical examination of different layers, and suggested the three part format of this letter. How did it work for you?

 

(The End)

(if any of you are interested in posting a guest piece, please drop us a line)

 

 

 


If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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.

1 Comment

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  • Thank you Anon. A very fun, interesting, unique, fact-filled read! Keep it up. Now, I want someone to dispute the facts laid out in this piece. What? You can’t? I figured as much!

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