Let’s Just Make Billings the Capital City

As Pogie at Intelligent Discontent writes, the publisher of both the Helena IR and the Montana Standard, Randy Rickman, believes that the newspaper of Montana’s capital city doesn’t need independent editorial oversight – we can just share an editor with Butte.

Rickman’s high quality judgement and lack of political bias should not be doubted.  After all, it was Rickman who realized that the capital city’s newspaper, the Helena IR, has no need  to be a leading source of political news and government information.  It’s either this or that the IR’s publisher either doesn’t want to get into the quicksand of having to actually understand the political and policy issues facing Montana, or perhaps he don’t have time (given the urgent market pressures to produce stories about stolen garden gnomes a reporting fad from eight years ago, cat-finding beagles, and who could forget the groundbreaking investigative journalism that found “Loud Pop Caused by Fireworks.”)

Independent editorial management and oversight?  What’s the point when you can just run press releases verbatim from the Montana Constitution Party. Or is it that without an editor, Rickman will find it easier to enforce his own political bent on the paper, something that will no doubt please the Congressman Rehbergs of the world.

It’s really an embarrassment to Helena.

All indications are that Montana’s capital city just isn’t that important – at least it is not as important as it used to be.  Perhaps we should just get it over with and make Billings the capital city of Montana.  At least Billings has its own newspaper.



17 Comments on "Let’s Just Make Billings the Capital City"

  1. Where is the Queen City News when you need an alternative newspaper? Oh yes, gone because the community really didn’t care about having an alternative newspaper, they are so happy with the stupid rag the IR is.

  2. This Rickman is the same publisher who penned that right wing editorial inder his own name infavor of taking away Montana women’s constitutional right to privacy by passing some law that was under condsideration in Oklahoma. He signed his own name to it-presumably because the rest of the ed board refused to join him.b

  3. The editor of The Montana Standard, Gerard “Gerry” O’Brien, is a protege of former Billings Gazette Wayne Schile, and you can read more about Schile’s Lee Newspapers reign at http://www.nathanielblumberg.com/internet1.htm. Gerry O’Brien will turn the Helena Independent Record into the pablum sheet the Standard has become. His rags are non-offensive to advertisers, and that philosophy rules over any other. O’Brien can also get blood out of a turnip. You’ll notice in today’s Standard a story about a wrongful discharge suit against a Butte business, Wayrynen-Richards Funeral Home. The suit alleged that the new owner of the funeral home fired the previous staff and installed his gay lover as man in charge. The jury yesterday ruled in favor of the funeral home, which means, I guess, that you can pretty much do anything against workers these days. No surprises there. But the Standard never did detail for the reading public the salacious details of the case. Wayrynen-Richards spends a boatload of money with the Standard; the old ethical days of separation between advertising and editorial are gone. Gerry O’Brien is a Lee darling, a Wayne Schile model for “success” and a man virtually without balls. What a sad day for journalism in Montana.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 24, 2011 12:08 PM at 12:08 PM |

      I cancelled the GF Spitoon about two years ago and never looked back. I don’t miss it one bit. (I have subscrided to a newspaper my entire life until then.) I got real TIRED of paying to be insulted by the corporate pukes. Actually, it is worse than useless. It is actually detriMENTal to democracy because it is simply corporate propaganda. And therefore, I could no longer contribute to that piece-o-sh*t paper.

      There’s no reason to have newspapers any longer. All the news can be gotten for free on line. I say shut the bastards down until they become real newspapers again.

      But I don’t see that happening any time soon. I’m good with that.

    • I remember this guy, he was the one who said that the Gazette shouldn’t be covering Indian reservations because “the readership isn’t there.” Then he fired the Gazette editor who had endorsed Brian Schweitzer over Conrad Burns in the 2000 U.S. Senate race.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 24, 2011 1:36 PM at 1:36 PM |

        He fired Gary Svee, one of the finest editors in Montana, for his “endorsement” (an hilarious non-endorsement really) of Sen. Corndog Buns. Wayne Shitheels overrode the endorsement of the entire Gazette editorial board who wanted to endorse Schweitzer. He forced them to endorse Corndog Buns. And when Svee complied in his own way, guess that was too much for Shitheels to bear. Made him look like the idiot he is. And a laughingstock.

    • O’Brien’s famous in Butte for getting in bed with the con artists behind the “Destination Montana” plan to turn Butte into Vegas North — by sitting on the story for nearly a year and providing the Page 1 splash of uncritical coverage for the roll-out only when the principles were ready. Before that, the Butte paper spent years promoting a hare-brained scheme by a former preacher to turn the Butte airport into an air freight center for 747s, when anyone with an inkling of aviation knowledge knows you don’t regularly fly wide-body aircraft into mountain airports.
      Such “journalism” just detracts from real economic development efforts.

  4. The argument that this is a meaningful cost cutting measure doesn’t pass the laugh test. Neither does the assertion that news coverage won’t suffer. It sure looks to me as though the IR’s publisher wanted to oust the IR’s editor, and this so-called cost cutting scheme was devised to provide cover for the purge.

  5. Anyone remember when they switched the operation of the editorial page over to Harrington? Soon after their was an odd, post -session ed piece that said, essentially “Look everyone” we published 28 (or whatever) letters to the editor and 11 editorials on the legislative session, so that’s all you get!! As if claiming they were doing their job while still seeking to avoid controversy to appease their corporate advertisers. Looking back, this was a signal of things to come.

  6. Some of you might remember this black incident on the MT Standard’s record. The Butte (MT Standard Sponsored) Tester Burns debate of 2006. At issue is the fact that Resodyn Corp., one of three sponsors of the debate, was given 30 reserved seats in the center section near the front of the Mother Lode Theater. The gave the prime seats to Burns supporters, Burns had worried that most of the crowd would be against him, and indeed most of the crowd was cheering for Tester, according to reporters.

    “The Montana Standard, Butte’s daily newspaper, organized the debate and recruited two other corporations as sponsors. Resodyn and Rhodia Chemical each paid $200, with the Standard kicking in $100, plus lots of in-kind time, the newspaper’s editor, Gerry O’Brien said.” O’Brien allowed Burns backer Resodyn not only to sponsor the debate, but to buy seats for Burns supporters!

    O’Brien called the Resodyn connection “an honest mistake.” The newspaper wanted to rent the theater because it held far more people than a Montana Tech site it had used for past debates, he said.

    Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_302e53c5-a7d7-50bc-ba18-a81a23e188c5.html#ixzz1QIuYQzKL

  7. Gerry O’Brien has been leading the charge to slowly make the MT (sub) Standard a more conservative paper. See this article where he brags about adding conservative columnists and cartoonists.


  8. Salacious stories about the funeral home may make good blogging, but the facts are quite different from what you have alleged, or the previous owner of the funeral home alleged. Stay tuned to see what happens in this instance, and who cares who is gay any more anyway. There was clearly a good reason why the jury found in favor of the business owner against the previous owner, whose conduct in the whole matter was sleazy and underhanded in the extreme.

  9. Orpington, the entire city of Butte, despite the Standard’s lack of news coverage, knows what happened at Wayrynen-Richards, and continues to be appalled by the current lack of customer service, more commonly referred to as “downright rudeness,” at the funeral home. Wayrynen’s attempts in Helena to thwart the efforts of the new crematory service and shut down this competition, is also “getting around,” despite lack of newspaper coverage. If the conduct of the previous owner of Wayrynen’s was “sleazy and underhanded in the extreme,” who would know? That kind of detail would be in a court filing, and the Butte public was never privy to it in relation to the Standard’s coverage. What Butte is left with is a grapevine, and grapevines tend to make the salacious more salacious. In most cases, rumor trumps reality. In the case of Wayrynen’s current owner, everything the grapevine delivers is deserved.

  10. Great! Now O’Brien will have TWO papers to not proofread.

  11. Don’t get me wrong, I”m no fan of John Doran, who definitely made some mistakes, but what isn’t known is the extent to which these “mistakes” were the giant thumb of the ultra right-wing Rickman cracking down on a weak editor. We’ll never know the extent to which that happened, but we do know that our paper is about to get a whole lot worse. I ask you Helenans, when is the last time you even read the MTStandard? Once a month? Less? Yet I bet you regularly check the Gazette and the Trib. Just saying, there’s a reason for that.

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