14 April 2017 — 0356 mdt
The Missoula Independent is no longer independent
In theory, according to initial reports, the Independent will stay independent. In practice, that’s not likely to happen. Over time, as current Independent staff move on, they’ll be replaced by people more comfortable working for private bureaucrats, and the Lee corporate culture will prevail.
The key test will come when something bad happens at the Missoulian and the Independent tries to publish the story. Will the corporate public relations honchos spike the report, order the removal of damning facts, and/or demote or fire the reporters who tried to publish the truth?
The Independent’s had a good run, and Missoula’s been better for it. I understand why the Independent’s owner, Matt Gibson, cashed-in. I might have done the same. But my thoughts and sympathies are with the Independent’s news staff, whose improved benefits are offset by increased uncertainty and the newly acquired stigma of working for corporate bureaucrats.