It had to happen.
I don’t mean that in the weaselly sense of change is inevitable. I mean that the option, sooner than later, was likely no Missoula Independent at all. Nobody wants to say that quite entirely out loud, for obvious reasons, but you tell me what to make of this, from the paper’s publisher and now-former owner, Matt Gibson:
“There were no better outcomes available for the Independent. And the worst possible outcomes were clearly possible. If we had any kind of unexpected trouble it was going to threaten the very existence of the paper.”
That’s not to say that Gibson isn’t optimistic about the paper’s prospects under its new ownership. But it is to note that it’s an optimism born in the crucible of necessity.
I had the good fortune to be able to edit this newspaper from 2000 to 2007. Since October, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to edit it again. It’s different now. The page count is leaner. We used to have a bureau reporter in the Flathead. We don’t have a staff photographer anymore. Just this year the editorial department has taken a 15 percent budget cut. I negotiated our already negligible syndicate fees for Free Will Astrology and The Advice Goddess to half-price. We cut our copy editor’s hours by two-thirds.
The point is that all the arrows were pointing in the wrong direction, and the Independent had neither the reserves nor the resources to either turn it around or ride it out.
That, as best I understand from Gibson and personal experience, is why he sold the paper to Lee Enterprises.
Now what does Lee get out of it?
Lee thinks it…
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