Archive for March 17th, 2008

by jhwygirl

He said it. Very well, I might add.

Don Pogreba has declared his candidacy for Governor.

by jhwygirl

We all hear about it – many pooh-pooh it. There are plenty of reasons to hate it – the nasty ways it can promote a lie; the subtle ways it can influence an election; the self-promoting protections it affords its own corporate interests.

Here’s a local story.

G. George Ostrom was terminated by KOFI Radio on Monday after Ostrom “disagreed with management over editorial policy.”The dispute arose Monday morning after Ostrom read a report concerning Kent Etchison, a resident of Kalispell who was arraigned in federal court Feb. 28 on mail fraud charges. Etchison, who pleaded innocent, was a former office manager at KOFI Radio and is accused of ordering about $972,000 in supplies from 2001 to June 2006 for the station — far in excess of what it would ever need, according to court records. The bulk of those purchases — $925,000 — were made from March 2003 through June 2006, federal prosecutors maintain.

Editorial policy?

What happened?

According to Ostrom, he read an Associated Press story about Etchison on the air in the Monday (March 3) 6 a.m. news report.Then Dave Rae, KOFI co-owner and general manager came in later that morning and told Ostrom to not read the story, Ostrom said.

Ostrom said he told Rae he already had. Rae, in short, insisted that Ostrom squash the story, Ostrom claimed.

Ostrom refused and walked out.

He read an AP news story.

Ostrom, a longtime Flathead Valley newscaster had been associated with KOFI-AM for 53 years, who had bought KOFI back in the 1980’s with a group of investors and helped usher its expansion to FM. He’s written three books on Glacier Park, and was the recipient of the University of Montana’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award. Ostrom also won first place from the National Newspaper Association in 1996 for his column “Trailwatcher” and has been inducted into the Montana Broadcaster’s Association’s Hall of Fame. He served in the U.S. Army and was also a member of the Missoula Smokejumpers, one of the original USFS smokejumping crews.

In the 1960’s, Ostrom was a staffer for Senator Lee Metcalf, and helped write the groundbreaking wilderness legislation – the very legislation that eventually created the late Senator’s namesaked Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area.

What reason did Dave Rae and KOFI have to want the story quashed? I’m sure any of you could come up with a number of reasons, but ultimately they all lead to one reason: the serving of their own interests over that of their audience’s right to know the truth.

The was a day, once, long ago, where purveyors of news were self-tasked with the responsibility to inform the public of news based on facts and without bias to its best capabilities. Are those days’ gone?

Ostrom, commenting on his departure:

Ignoring that story, in my opinion, would be making me compromise my journalistic integrity, my credibility.

Amen, George Ostrom.

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