Most of the news out of the newspaper business these days is all gloom and doom, but today we have a very different kind of story: the debut, in Montana, of a new kind of newspaper, the Flathead Beacon. It’s a daily online newspaper with a weekly print edition, and we think it will not only be a great service to the residents and businesses of the Flathead Valley, but also has the potential to show some interesting new approaches to news business.
The proprietor of the Beacon is Maury Povich, who with his wife Connie Chung has had a home in Montana, outside the town of Bigfork, for more than ten years.
The Beacon staff is a remarkable group, led by two University of Montana graduates: Publisher Tom Donnelly, and Editor-in-Chief Kellyn Brown. Working out of what was once a shoe store on Main Street in Kalispell, they’ve been toiling almost literally around the clock to create a publication that will bring balanced, in-depth coverage of all aspects of life in the Flathead Valley. The Web site will feature breaking news, multimedia, community pages, a comprehensive events calendar – and, perhaps most important in the long run, engaging online conversation. Today is the official launch, and we invite you to pick up a print copy if you’re in the Flathead, or check out the site at flatheadbeacon.com.
I was introduced to Maury a couple of years ago by media industry leader Merrill Brown. We were having breakfast, discussing my plans for New West, and Merrill suggested I talk to Maury, a friend of his whom he knew had a home in Montana. As it turned out, Maury was not only interested in talking about New West, he also had his own plan to start a newspaper serving the Flathead Valley. I told him I could help him with that, and we soon began laying the groundwork for the Beacon.
The Beacon has no political agenda, only a journalistic one. “The direction of the Beacon is not left or right – it’s forward,” says Donnelly. “We’re bringing Media 3.0 innovations to the residents and businesses of the Flathead Valley.”
For Povich, the project is rooted in his deep appreciation of Montana.
“The caring residents of the Flathead have opened their hearts to the Povich and Chung family,” says Povich. “Since Connie and I have spent our entire careers in the media, we wanted to give back to the people of the Flathead Valley our appreciation. What better way than using our experience in journalism to bring to the citizens of Northwest Montana a publication filled with meaningful news about those events that will indeed affect the lives of everyone living here.”
The print version of the Beacon will be distributed for free every Wednesday at locations across the Flathead Valley, with the premier issue being mailed to all households in the area. Stories in the first issue include a look at the disputed Cline coalmine proposal just north of the border in Canada, an analysis of the changing job market and what it means for young professionals, and a profile of the new athletic director at Whitefish High School. A sports page (which reads from the back of the paper), a movie page (created in partnership with RottenTomatoes.com), an opinion page, and an events calendar will be standing features of the print publication. And of course you can read all that and more online at FlatheadBeacon.com.
We’re very confident the Beacon will be an important and enduring part of the Montana media scene. We hope you’ll agree.