by William Skink
I don’t know how many years I’ve considered the Missoulian a crap source of local news, but during the most recent years of this paper’s existence, as it squeezed what little value was left for its corporate shareholders, Gwen Florio has been the editor.
Well, NO LONGER!
In a blazing example of virtue signaling, Florio has RESIGNED her position as editor over the paper’s endorsement of Jennifer Fielder for PSC.
On Twitter the accolades for Florio are pouring in. Why? Because she was a good reporter, taking on difficult stories, like the UM rape scandal, her supporters say. Ok. So did that make the Missoulian a quality newspaper while she was taking Lee Enterprises money to be the editor?
I spoke with Gwen Florio over the phone about the Sean Stevenson case a few months ago, hoping to get more official reporting on why the County Attorney’s office is declaring acts of violence resulting in death to be justifiable uses of force in self defense, both in the Stevenson case and the stabbing death of Ben Mousso. Nothing resulted from that conversation, or subsequent attempts to get Seaborn Larson to follow up on these important stories.
Maybe that’s because Gwen Florio had wrapped that story up back in January with this disgusting piece of self-congratulation over her paper’s extra effort to tell Sean Stevenson’s story. Here is a big chunk of the self-directed accolades Florio directed to herself and her reporters on January 12th, under the title The Value of a Closer Look:
It could have been “just” another police story. A fight at the Poverello Center, Missoula’s shelter for homeless people. One man dead. Another man arrested, briefly held, then released without charges after witnesses are questioned.
And that’s where a lot of stories, and especially stories involving violence among the less fortunate, end — with a short recitation of the facts, to the extent that they’re known, and then a collective shrug as the news cycle rolls on.
Last week, reporters Seaborn Larson and Paul Hamby hit the pause button. Law enforcement had released the victim’s name and age — Sean Stevenson, 45 — but that was it. But Larson and Hamby kept asking questions, not just about Stevenson, but about the other clients of the Pov, and also the people who work there.
Sunday’s paper carried two stories that stemmed from their reporting. Hamby found friends and family who helped put a face and a personality to Stevenson — and a “dazzling” personality at that, according to his friend, Janice Gordon.
Now that Florio has RESIGNED, she can dedicate more time to writing her popular fiction and tweeting clever tweets about hashtag AM writing at the coffee shop. Whoever replaces her will undoubtedly make the paper an even worse product, but I doubt anyone will actually notice.
Is an alternative to the Missoulian ever going to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, or did Lee Enterprises truly salt the earth with the Indy and the shuttering of its digital archives?
And if you think the Missoula Current is the answer, there’s a gap in KBGA’s Saturday schedule that says otherwise. Right, Gomer?
Sad times for our local media market, which means lots of important stories not being told.