Breaking Narrative Control With Journalist David Fahrenthold In A Room Full Of People Who Know Nothing About Sean Stevenson

by Travis Mateer

After the Dean Stone lecture, featuring Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Fahrenthold, I was ready for the Q&A. The audience was primed to be the engaged consumers of media content Fahrenthold was urging them to be, so I raised my hand and Lee Banville, the new director of the Journalism School, came over with the microphone.

After identifying myself as a blogger operating within our degraded local media landscape, I gave David Fahrenthold a scenario, asking if he could tell me if it was newsworthy or not. The scenario: a black man is assaulted in a homeless shelter, then taken to the hospital where the Coroner removes him from life support WITHOUT first contacting the man’s family.

Is this newsworthy, I asked David Fahrenthold? His answer: I would certainly want to know more, he replied.

I then shifted to addressing the audience gathered in the auditorium, asking them to show, by a raise of hands, if anyone had heard the name Sean Stevenson. Not ONE PERSON raised their hand. This is a problem, I said, because that scenario is what happened to him.

It’s no surprise local media is shit and getting worse. Just this week Lee Enterprises made further cuts to Montana newsrooms, as reported by MPR. From the link:

Employees at Montana’s largest newspaper chain say they’re seeing layoffs at papers across the state.

The union for newsroom employees of the Billings Gazette announced on April 7 that six of their members had been laid off by Lee Enterprises. In a statement, the Montana News Guild said they were “devastated” by the cuts.

The union criticized the layoffs and pointed at the earnings of Lee’s top executive officers, who are compensated over a million dollars a year and received a raise in 2022.

Lee Enterprises owns four other papers in Montana. On Monday morning, Missoulian sports reporter Lucas Semb announced on Twitter he’d been laid off.

Who cares about the death of the newspaper industry? Judging by the silvery hue of hair on about 75% of the attendees last night, I’d say old people, like the son of Lee Enterprises “former” CIA hire, John Talbot (John, not Pete, is pictured below).

If you aren’t aware of Operation Mockingbird, you probably should be. And if you want to see proof of Talbot’s pedigree, check out Talbot’s 1975 interview. Here’s a screenshot:

I took some time to scan the interview and it’s pretty damn interesting. For example, the power of a newspaper to be the instigator of community change was discussed in 1975 as it related to air pollution in the valley. Here is how Talbot describes the role of the Missoulian in leading the “crusade” to address the smog:

I don’t think anyone will argue that LESS pollution was a bad thing for Missoula, so the power and influence of the local newspaper to enact change back then was, I assume, mostly appreciated by Missoulians. But what about the stories NOT covered by local newspapers? Or, in the case of Sean Stevenson, covered like this?

One thing Fahrenthold said that resonated with me was the encouragement he gave to the students in attendance to actually GO to the places they are writing about. I felt much less resonance with how Fahrenthold described using Twitter to research Trump’s claim about donating money to a Veteran’s organization. Maybe that’s because the failure of NATIONAL media platforms has been so much more consequential to the erosion of an informed public, with technology giving us the false impression of a beneficially networked world, when the reality is closer to a control grid tightening like a noose around our collective neck.

While I appreciate the opportunity to pass along my contact information (and additional perspective on local corruption) to an esteemed member of the national press, the news industry Fahrenthold represents is on its death bed, and rightfully so. What comes next is being stitched together by people like me, people putting public truth ahead of personal profit.

If you would like to help sustain my financially unwise choice to pursue local truths, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is awaiting your contribution, as is the donation button at my about page.

Thank you for supporting local, independent journalism!

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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1 Response to Breaking Narrative Control With Journalist David Fahrenthold In A Room Full Of People Who Know Nothing About Sean Stevenson

  1. John Ulrigg says:

    Hello Travis I’ve been going through some personal crap with my mother and my father’s death anyhow I think we’ve talked before about how the city defame slandered and libeld me using The missoulian newspaper front page of five the Enterprise newspapers on a Sunday edition did everything but paint me as a pleasant person I was told just suck it up people who know the truth know the truth they’ll be okay with it well f*** that

    My life is now haunted by the slanderous article because it’s being used in court to prevent me from being a caretaker for my mother so the ghost the slanderous libelous definition goes to my past now come forward to screw with me on something that’s very important to me they care and while taking of my mother

    The city is already determined people that stole her money by pretending to be a contractor did not commit a punishable criminal offense it’s a civil matter where she’ll have to get a lawyer to go after them to get her money back this is not true at all this is just a camouflage jab at me and my stance against dishonest immoralist ethics list people who work in our local city government and allow this as a weapon

    This is particularly troubling when our mayor and our city council speak to and hold the golden shrine of Jedi

    When I see that all I think is Tammany Hall Mr Tammany the appearance of propriety must be maintained even in the complete and absolute absence of propriety that’s a paraphrase but hey Missoula city council and mayor are you listening that’s pretty much what it is you don’t give a crap about anybody in this town unless it benefits you your own pocket or your own little tiny oligarch circle and God forbid someone get hurt or damaged by your oligarchs because then the whole entire circle acts out against the truth speaker that being me in this case and I got proof it’s too bad I don’t have a lawyer cuz I could go back and get this oh wait soon I will have a lawyer him and City Missoula take note I’m coming black to collect everything you’ve taken from me in the pattern and practice of abuse that you’ve played out of my life for the past 20 years ding ding it’s on

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