As Lee Lags, Ed Bags a Big One

by William Skink

I noticed the police activity on West Broadway this morning as I drove to work. An open door at a nasty motel called “The Colonial” had crime-scene tape criss-crossing the door frame. There was more crime-scene tape blocking off a portion of gravely ground in front of the room.

KPAX must have noticed the activity as well, because they reported on it well over 8 hours ago, which you can read here. So far it’s just an “unattended death” but authorities haven’t ruled out foul play.

And the Missoulian? Nothing yet, as of 11:00pm.

As traditional media sputters and puffs along like a chain-smoker running a marathon, some blogs are kicking ass, like Ed Kemmick’s Last Best News. This morning Kemmick posted a piece from an interview he did last week with Jolene Burdge, the sister of the man Dennis Hastert sexually abused decades ago in Illinois. After doing one national interview with ABC, which appeared on Good Morning America last month, Jolene fended off the media wolves that deluged her with requests.

And then Ed Kemmick gets an interview. Impressive.

If I had millions of dollars, I would totally invest in taking Last Best News state-wide. Kemmick had similar thoughts after Lee Enterprises shutters its state bureau. You can read the post below the fold.


from Last Best News

The Columbia Journalism Review, the premier publication covering American media, posted a story today about what lies ahead, now that Lee Enterprises has closed its Capitol bureau.

I spoke twice with the reporter, Corey Hutchins, who told me, as he says in the article: “In discussions about statewide alternatives, the name I heard most often was another former Lee reporter: Ed Kemmick. After a quarter century as a reporter and editor for the Billings Gazette, Kemmick started a website, Last Best News, in early 2014.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As I used to like telling people when I worked at the Gazette: “I’m the Sunday columnist for the biggest paper in the fourth-largest state in the most powerful country in the world.”

It sounded impressive until you unpacked it, as does my current claim to fame, that I run virtually the only successful, ad-supported, online-only news site in Montana. It is successful, but it is still basically a one-man operation and my readership hovers somewhere in the range of 1,200 to 1,500 visitors a day.

Even so, I did tell Hutchins, as he says in the article, that as soon as I heard about the state bureau closure, I couldn’t help but start to think of trying something larger, something like a statewide online newspaper. How could I not? When the Lee Newspapers go out of their way, seemingly, to create gaps that cry out to be filled, one reacts accordingly.

I didn’t mind sharing this information with Hutchins and I don’t mind sharing it here. I want to be an open book, just like President Obama said he wanted his administration to be transparent. The only difference is that I mean it.

Not that anything is going to happen soon. It’s hard enough to run this modest operation. To think of expanding, to take on partners and go statewide—that’s more than a little daunting. Some things are meant to be, though, and the time has never seemed riper in Montana. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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13 Responses to As Lee Lags, Ed Bags a Big One

  1. I have an idea: We could create a profession comprised of people whose job it is to find out what powerful people are doing, and then to report back to us. We could call it … Interior decorating (damn, taken) … Accounting (ditto) … Burrowing. Yes! They would be called burrowers. Burrowers would not be admired or honored by powerful people. They would get no party invites nor be asked to host fake debates. Burrowers would not be allowed to shower each other with awards. They would be forced to take solace late nights in dark corners of bars, knowing that they are scorned in the marble hallways. They would draw stink eyes when entering a room of politicians. Theirs would be a hard job, to be the Roto Rooter of representative government.

    We need a place to train them … Hmmmmm … Since it is a new profession, nothing like it exists in this country … there is no formal structure for training. OTJ has to suffice. Oh, and it doesn’t pay. Advertisers will avoid them. A person would be out of his mind to pay someone to expose his corrupt behavior.

  2. Big Swede says:

    Just think, if Hastert would’ve abused several young persons he could’ve been president.

    • American journalism 101: Since Hastert is out of power, he is now a safe target.

      End of lesson.

      • Big Swede says:

        Liberal ideologues will follow you to the grave.

        • I don’t know what that means. It is some kind of mental construct in your head. Do you know what it means?

        • Big Swede says:

          Eugene McCarthy.

        • Since you like links:

          Who’s Who in CIA is a book written by the East German journalist Julius Mader (AKA Thomas Bergner) and published in East Berlin in 1968, under Stasi auspices and probably with KGB assistance. Mader was a writer employed by the East German Military publishing house and apparently had access to some information on CIA officers that was not publicly available. The book purported to identify about 3,000 active agents of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It was modeled after other Who’s Who guides.

          I have that list if you are interested. Of course, paper does not refuse ink, so the mere fact that the list was published does not make it true. Still, among those listed as active agents of the CIA was Eugene McCarthy. It is not at all illogical, as CIA likes to cover its bases, usually owning one or two people on all sides of most issues – ““The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” (Vladimir Lenin, perhaps said that.)

          In McCarthy’s case, it seems he was winding up his career and was called upon to be a stalking horse candidate to prevent access to the throne by a real liberal, as sentiments ran high in the wake of the RFK murder and progressives were out in force. McCarthy, inheriting a dispirited following after the RFK murder, led them off a cliff, as was his job.

          For myself, I have been deeply impressed by the intellectual qualities of CIA agents – Bill Buckley, McCarthy, Angleton, Cord Meyer, James McCord, E Howard Hunt were fascinating people of great depth, but none among them were of a progressive bent. They merely act out that part for TV on occasion.

          You should allow room for a little intrigue in your political thinking, Swede, as politics is nothing if not full of duplicity.

        • Big Swede says:

          I’ll save you some time in your journey Mark.

          Eugene is here.

          Saint Paul’s Episcopal Churchyard
          Rappahannock County
          Virginia, USA

    • Here’s a case of sexual harassment closer to home: Christine Niedermeier. Her accused assailant, Max Baucus. Local coverage … nil. A search of the archives at the Gazette yields nothing beyond an article wherein she is cleared of an offense long after Baucus had destroyed her career.

      • Big Swede says:

        Ed’s got Niedermeier’s interview next week.

        • Poor Christine, her side of the story never made it to print as she was battered and beaten by the Baucus machine. That has to be horribly frustrating, not only to be sexually abused, but then to be beaten up by petty water carriers after. What is more galling is the silence of the Montana media.

  3. djinn&tonic says:

    Maybe, Ed Kemmick and his ilk should work more hours…

    ‘I have two jobs’: Americans respond to Jeb Bush’s call to work longer hours

  4. Eric says:

    Ed’s success doesn’t surprise me – he was on of the best ‘Beat Peporters’ the Gazoo ever had – I never could tell who was the best, it was either Ed or Tom Howard, but the Gazette doesn’t have anybody to fill their shoes, that’s for sure.

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