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New editor’s note

by AVERY HOWE
Hagadone News Network | May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

In 2023, Medill found that an average of 2.5 newspapers were pulled from publication a week. This is up slightly from the year before. 

Back in 2019, when I was graduating high school in rural Greybull, Wyoming, I remember my family looking concerned when I told them I wanted to be a photojournalist. Rightfully so. I was looking at blowing my scholarship on a four-year education in an industry that’s dying. 

I think that’s what I was supposed to do, though. In third grade, one of my favorite teachers I’ve had to this day, Timmy Anderson, asked me to write and publish a class newspaper, a task I did by myself after I had finished my schoolwork. We didn’t really have a camera, so I drew cartoons of what had happened that week. She printed it for me on colored printer paper and I distributed it to my classmates, who ate it up with smiles and giggles as they saw the drawings of themselves and their stories in ink. 

I remember little kids coming up to me and asking if announcements for their friends’ birthdays could be in the paper, and when we were in high school, one of the boys I wrote a “front page” story on (for trying to scare the teacher and instead getting smooshed behind the classroom door) reminded me of that story with a laugh. 

I couldn’t let that go, I guess. In high school I edited the yearbook. I was a photo stringer for my town’s weekly newspaper, the Greybull Standard, and got paid something like $6 a photo. I don’t know, I frequently forgot to cash those paychecks. I loved it. 

At the same time I was graduating high school and making the somewhat questionable decision to start college for photojournalism, a little village in Northwest Montana was fighting to get its local newspaper back in print after it was moved online in 2015.

“We used to call ourselves the best little weekly newspaper in Montana,” Ginny Wilson, who ran the Eagle in the 80s, told the new editor Mackenzie Reiss in a 2019 interview. 

“There really is a need in a little unincorporated town for something that holds things together.”

I find it incredibly powerful that this community banded together to demand back their newspaper — something that seems more and more to be gone with the wind. 

There’s something grounding in the physicality of print. So much of what we do nowadays lacks physical presence — we work and go to school from home, we shop online, we date on apps and have our arguments in the Facebook comments section. Holding a printed photo, words, even and especially containing the stories of people we know, is something that we do less and less. The fact that Bigfork fought to keep that gives me hope I didn’t throw away that scholarship after all. 

I’ve had a great first impression of Bigfork. I even accidentally set up my first interview, with Marci Truckey of Grounded, in the old Eagle office off Highway 35. I’m working out of the Daily Inter Lake office in Kalispell, but I encourage you all to reach out to me with what you think should be covered in your community, your opinions in letters, and I will see you around town. I would love to see more local columns too, so if you or someone you know have insight to share, please do! 

I hope Bigfork will continue to fight for its newspaper. And I will do what I can as a one-woman show to help rebuild that “best little weekly.”

Bigfork Eagle Editor Avery Howe can be reached at editor@bigforkeagle.com or 758-4446.