The Missoula Independent Column About George Ochenski That Never Was

by jhwygirl

I’m done trying to convince the Indy to take a high road. Hell, at this point, even a rocky muddy road would be something. On the other hand, lots of us need closure. So I’m closing it.

Here is the goodbye George column that the Indy should have written.

Dear Readers –

By now many of you have noticed – given the number of phone calls and emails that we’ve received – that 12 year award-winning political opinion columnist George Ochenski is no longer gracing the pages of the Missoula Independent. Montanans have benefited from reading his words on our pages for more than a decade – and from what we can discern, he’s gained a few fans along the way.  We’ve heard that George has moved on – grabbing a weekly gig with the Missoulian. We truly wish him well.

Sometimes in life you find yourself wishing for a do-over. Especially in hindsight. This situation is certainly one that finds us in that position, if only to have handled George’s departure in a different way. Alas, there are no do-overs here. But there is moving forward.

The Missoula Independent values both our staff and our readers immensely – and we recognize it is those relationships which we need to mend. Our choice to not address this situation reflects on the impressions our readers have on the very thing thing the Indy does – writing a weekly independent newspaper. It takes a village to do a lot of things, and the Independent is no different – from our sales and advertising staff, to our copy staff, editorial staff, contributors, and writers – all are integral to the very proud and award-winning work that our readers have come to enjoy over the last 21 years.

Ultimately things most often work out for the better. We certainly hope that is true for both George and us. And while we can’t change the past what we can say, moving forward, is that the Missoula Independent will continue striving to bring Missoula and Montanans and its readers elsewhere writing that is important and truthful and relevant.

Signed,
President Matt Gibson
Editor Robert Meyerowitz

Like I said – the column that never was.

Peace out, Indy.


  1. lizard19

    when your readership is what your business model depends on, you would think a letter like this would be smart for business.

    • JC

      Of course, one might assume that the Indy is looking to broaden its readership by focusing more on lifestyle-oriented journalism that is non-controvesial.

      Afterall, they are going to be competing with the Missoulian head-on for more and more online advertising, as print continues to wither away.

      Actually, I might challenge your notion that the “readership” is what the Indy’s business model depends on. I’d say that it more is the advertisers that their business model depends on.

      Once upon a time it might have been readers and/or writers. In its early hay-days, the Indy was driven to be a relevant alternative source of journalism.

      Today I wonder if politics and advertising dollars aren’t more important than journalism and readership.

      • Speaking of “business model”…. for whatever it’s worth, here’s a look at this week’s Missoula Indy pages where George Ochenski’s weekly column used to be:

      • lizard19

        that’s a good point, JC.

  2. JConrad

    Once again, if you are concerned about the importance of a free press in Montana, boycott the Indy and their advertisers.

  3. JConrad

    This week’s Indy has a rather superficial article on a fire in New Mexico, “Fire On The Mountain.”

    So is this important news ? New Mexico burns every year.

    Yes, it should be interesting to see what kind of Montana environmental coverage we will see under Meyerowitz ?

    Ochenski was the best informed and most critical columnist in the state on environmental issues. As part of the environmental movement in Montana for decades, including lobbying the legislature for improvements, Ochenski was always on the cutting edge. He was also not shy about exposing the corruption in Washington that effects our environmental issues. In these ways, there is no one like Ochenski.

    Perhaps silencing that perspective is part of the new editor’s job description or part of his personal agenda ? Time will tell.

    • Meyerowitz didn’t make this conscience decision without the support of Gibson.

      ~jhwygirl

  4. JConrad

    Media owners and their boards are the ultimate censors. But they need little people to do their dirty work.

    Editors tend to be bottom feeders paid to undermine good journalism/writing in order to enhance profits and maintain a predetermined political agenda.

    Check out who runs the show with the big media corporations via interlocking directorates.

    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2870

    It is all part of the corporate tyranny and control by the .01%.

  5. lizard19

    if you haven’t read it, Russell Mokhiber, who edits the Corporate Crime Reporter, has his take on the Decline of Independent Weeklies posted at Counterpunch.

    in his interview with Ochenski, we hear some direct speculation that Meyerowitz escalated his demands after someone put up that link we saw here, describing Meyerowitz’s history:

    “I went on a fishing trip. And when I came back, someone had posted on my column links to Meyerowitz’s past, questioning whether he was moving the Indy to the right, and whether he was brought on to get rid of progressive voices,” Ochenski said.

    “It must have upset him. When I came back, there was an e-mail from him saying he wanted to know by Friday what I was going to write about a week out.”

    “And that week’s issue happened to be the 25th anniversary of the Missoula Independent. So, I tell him I was going to celebrate and say – happy birthday to the Indy and celebrate the importance of a free and independent press to Montanans.”

    “And he wrote me back and said – I don’t want your column on the free press. We’re spiking it for next week and you will not be paid.”

    “That was the first time in twelve years that an Ochenski column didn’t appear in the Independent. I told him what I wanted to write about and he said no.”

  1. 1 “A Favorite of Disaffected Montanans” « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] “the Decline of Independent Weeklies” (an excerpt out of Corporate Crime Reporter) that lizard so helpfully pointed out yesterday. “Alternative weekly newspapers used to be crusading vehicles against corporate power and […]

  2. 2 Where’s Ochenski?

    […] article “the Decline of Independent Weeklies” (an excerpt out of Corporate Crime Reporter) that lizard so helpfully pointed out yesterday. “Alternative weekly newspapers used to be crusading vehicles against corporate power and crime. […]




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