A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

14 April 2017 — 0356 mdt

The Missoula Independent is no longer independent

The Missoula Independent newspaper became part of a not loved media empire yesterday when it was purchased by Lee Enterprises, which publishes the Missoulian newspaper.

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.