Well we never...
Never thought we'd see the day, frankly.
Though maybe we should have.
By the time you read this, Matt Gibson will no longer be the publisher of the Missoula Independent, which he owned from 1997 until the paper's sale to Lee Enterprises in April. A Wednesday morning press release, followed by a public announcement at a party at the Missoulian Wednesday evening, sealed the deal.
Effective immediately, Gibson takes on the title of general manager for Lee's "Missoula area properties," i.e., the Missoulian, the Ravalli Republic, and the Missoula Independent.
Lee VP Mike Gulledge continues in his role as publisher of the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette, and Independent general manager Andy Sutcliffe will continue in that role with expanded responsibility. There are no editorial department changes associated with the promotion. We have, however, noticed that Matt has started dressing sharper.
What does this mean for us? Well, it means that we have the strongest possible advocate for the Indy and its mission—an advocate who understands the paper's history and promise better than anyone else could—embedded deep in the belly of the... umm... Lee family.
Or, in Gibson's words, "The fundamental character of the Independent, which I've spent 20 years creating, is extraordinarily valuable. And it's not going to be compromised."
As for his new gig with the Missoulian, he says, "My goals are to build trust with the community and with a terrific group of employees and help guide the business to sustainable success."
In that regard, of course, we wish him the very best of luck.
Because "sustainable success" is the real challenge in this perilous journalism moment, and it's also, at root, the reason Gibson sold the Indy to Lee in the first place. The manifold difficulties facing the newspaper business need no recounting here. And yet:
"Somebody's got to do the work, and that's all I've ever really wanted to do," Gibson says. "And Missoula is the only place I've ever wanted to do it."
Now, more than ever, he has his chance. Those of us who've worked with him for years are confident that he's more than up to the task. Those of you who're about to get your first chance to work with him have a real opportunity in store. We're rooting for you, boss.