Tagged: Lee Newspapers

Posted: January 28, 2014 at 6:38 am

Today’s Must-Read Political Blog Post

Is up at Intelligent Discontent, where Don Pogreba writes another of his excellent point by point take downs of shoddy journalism.

I’ve read some terrible headlines from Montana newspapers in my day, but today’s story headlined “Political practices commissioner accused of using questionable tactics to get results” has to be one of the worst. More accurate headlines would include “Those accused of campaign finance violations cry bitterly about it” or “Commissioner Motl works to restore trust in Montana elections.”

Go read it.

Posted: November 5, 2012 at 7:39 am

Double Talk from a Right-Wing Publisher

Montanans have reacted with outrage to the lies being spread by the fake newspapers called the Montana Statesman and the deceptive mailers that arrived on doorsteps courtesy of the American Traditions Partnership.

But the reaction from Randy Rickman, the right-wing publisher of the Helena IR and Montana Standard looks more like jealousy.

Whatever his “reasoning” Rickman has decided to get into the double-talk game himself.

Last month, the Montana Standard and the Helena IR, the Lee Newspapers controlled by right-wing publisher Randy Rickman, sent letters [PDF] to democratic candidates saying they “decided not to endorse the statewide offices this year.”

This week however the Montana Standard endorsed Steve Daines for Congress.  

The letter reads:

Dear candidate:

The Helena Independent Record and the Montana Standard editorial boards has decided not to endorse the statewide candidate offices this year. However, we are going to provide space starting Sunday, Oct. 7, and going forward to candidates and their opponents to outline their vision and goals if elected. To that end, we would like you to submit a 450-word personal editorial outlining your goals. It will run adjacent to your opponent, but we insist that you not take the space to bash the opposition, rather promote yourself. If you have questions please feel free to contact me. Deadline is by 5 p.m. Wed., Oct. 3. Thanks for your attention to this matter.

 

 

Posted: September 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Questions at the IR

A series of strange occurrences at the Helena IR in recent days.

First, a bizarre editorial was penned  Sunday by the paper’s CEO, suggesting that the very existence of the newspaper may be in doubt.

Randy Rickman, the paper’s boss, wrote that “rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,” but that “if the Independent Record is dying, it will never have had a better audience to watch its demise than today.”

The job of Managing Editor was posted in the help wanted section of the newspaper.  (Perhaps I’ll apply.) And other top staff are rumored to be jumping ship, including Business reporter and Opinion Page editor John Harrington.

No doubt it’s a tough job running a print newspaper nowadays, as print editions which sell for $1.00 are fast becoming dinosaurs that drain money.  Once upon a time if you were a newspaper baron, ink-by-the-barrel was something to be proud of having under your control.  Today, it’s nothing more than a dark, wet and heavy financial burden, weighing down companies like Lee Newspapers as they desperately try to find a way to monetize digital content which most people simply read for free. I don’t envy them.

There had been talk in the media world, not long ago, that single-newspaper towns would be immune from the financial difficulties being faced by national papers.  The theory was that if you run a newspaper in a one-newspaper town, you have a natural monopoly and can’t lose.  But judging by Rickman’s editorial board and other shakeups recently at Lee Newspapers, Inc.,  it appears monopoly status no longer guarantees success or even survival.  Or perhaps Helena is not big enough to impart this monopoly advantage to the IR.

Even though Rickman is an anti-choice Republican and is employed by a historically Republican company, I do wish the newspaper well.   It might require new management and a new philosophy (such as covering news, rather than ignoring it, and such as jumping on stories, rather than sitting around and letting a bunch of two-bit blogs beat you to the punch), but I am hopeful the IR will be around many years longer.

However, there’s another dark cloud over at the IR that concerns me. I’ve been told that the departure of several members of the editorial board is imminent.  This timing would be questionable, given Lee Newspapers’ conservative bent.   The IR’s (newly women-free?) editorial board is due to make political endorsements soon.   There have also been rumblings that the IR and its sister papers, the Missoulian and Butte’s Montana Standard, may be planning to make endorsements with no input from their community ed board members. A source at the IR would neither confirm or deny the information.

So is Rickman, or some corporate honcho, putting the fix in for candidates like Hill, Rehberg et al?  Certainly Rickman and his company have used his perch to deliver pure political advocacy in the past (like when he ran a virulent anti-choice column).

I hope it’s not the case.  It’d be bad for business, among other things.

Posted: April 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

There They Go Again

Responding to a Lee Newspapers questionnaire in today’s Helena Independent Record, the seven GOP gubernatorial candidates all said that Montana must “develop our natural resources” as a way to reduce unemployment and make our economy strong, and that “red tape” and “excessive regulations” are standing in the way of such development.

Which raises an interesting question: what resources, exactly, are we not developing?  Are there oil wells known to be pregnant that have not been tapped, because of regulations?  I doubt it.  The amount of exploration taking place in Eastern Montana is comprehensive.  Landowners often receive giant checks from oil companies just for the right to test the ground and search for oil.  Any identified oil deposit whose recovery would not be hindered by some geological problem is already being drilled.

And coal?  The rights to the Otter Creek coal deposit are now owned by the largest coal company in America, with designs on extracting it after paying an up front bonus of $80 million to the state of Montana.  To my knowledge, the Arch company has not indicated that any rules or regulations are causing a hindrance to development.  Nor have the owners of any other coal deposit, or oil field.

As is well known, Montana is developing its resources at a faster rate than at any time in the state’s history.  So the question that should have been asked of these candidates is: What resources are not being developed?  Where are they, precisely? Who owns them? And why are these owners not registering the same complaint as these seven buffoons running for Governor?

Perhaps the able newspaperwomen and men at the Lee company will ask these follow-up questions in the future.

 

Posted: March 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Media Quick Hits

A Blow to Good Journalism

On the same day it was announced Mary Junck, Lee CEO, received a $500,000 bonus for taking her company into bankruptcy, Lee Newspapers laid off people in Helena and Butte, KXLH is reporting.

Montana Nutjobs Back in the National Spotlight

Mother Jones today reports on the latest wacky details about GOP gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone.  There’s even a great quote from Pogie at Intelligent Discontent.   UPDATE: I don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a taste of what can be found in the article:

In 2005, Roll Call dubbed Livingstone “Deep Mouth,” after it was alleged that he had dined at Dupont Circle’s Palm steakhouse 88 times in a 57-day period. (Livingstone denied the charge, telling the paper that he eats there only about 15 times a month.)

Go read the hilarious piece. Suffice it to say, Livingstone’s candidacy is not doing Montana’s image any favors.

Women are Like Dogs

Livingstone isn’t the only GOP-er hard at work making Montana a national laughingstock this week.  TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns is in the news for “comparing Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to a studding English bulldog named “John-Boy.” Yes, really.”  Here’s the story.   Readers may recall that this isn’t the first TEA Party Republican to compare women to animals.  Keith Regier said we’re more like cattle.  Democrat Cole Olsen is campaigning to replace Kerns in the Montana Legislature.

Posted: August 3, 2011 at 7:34 am

Today’s Must Read Political Blog Posts

Can be found at the Flathead Memo and the Button Valley Bugle, who both write on the impact of Lee Newspapers new requirement that readers pay for online content.

After the New York Times put its content behind a paywall earlier this year, there was a flurry of speculation about what it would mean for news, whether readers would go for it, and even how to get around it.