I just received this word from columnist George Ochenski via e-mail:
Thought you should know (in preparation for tomorrow’s show) that I have been hired by the Missoulian and my column will henceforth show up in every Monday’s paper starting next Monday.
And, yes, you read that correctly. George Ochenski will be our guest on “Voices of Montana” for the full hour Wednesday June 13th from 9-10 AM. Click here for station listing. We also offer a live online stream.
I received a response from Robert Meyerowitz, the editor of The Missoula Independent, in regard to the cancellation of George Ochenski’s opinion column with the paper. Here’s what he had to say:
MEYEROWITZ: “Wading into his columns, changing headlines”? What do you think an editor does?
Wading in? Changing headlines? We edit all the copy we publish, through several layers, and write headlines. We also maintain journalistic standards, for such things as fairness and accuracy, that apply to everything we publish; George Ochenski was no exception. I guess he didn’t like that.
He hasn’t been silenced. He can publish anywhere he’s able, as far as I can see. And he hasn’t been censored. We choose what we publish.
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Where’s George Ochenski? That’s the question being posed by many following Montana politics in the Twittersphere. The answer? He’s off to the cabin. But, unless plans change, don’t expect to read Ochenski’s opinion column in The Missoula Independent anytime soon.
Ochenski is a popular columnist with the liberal Missoula Independent. Although he is very clearly a liberal columnist, he has no qualms with going after the Democratic Party establishment in Montana either. In fact, his latest two columns took Montana Attorney General, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Steve Bullock to task.
I spoke with Ochenski Thursday afternoon. He said he was “100 percent forced out by the new editor,” Robert Meyerowitz. “I haven’t missed a week for 12 years. I did it all as a freelancer,” Ochenski said, as he got ready to head off to his cabin in the mountains for the weekend. Ochenski said Meyerowitz started wading into his columns, changing headlines, and told him that he couldn’t write about national or international topics.
I did contact The Missoula Independent. Phones at the paper went to voicemail, and an e-mail to the editor has yet to be returned.
Ochenski says it all came to a head last week. While Ochenski was fishing with friends in the Missouri Breaks, Meyerowitz moved up the deadline for his weekly column and began e-mailing Ochenski for the latest column so he could give it a look. Eventually, Ochenski says Meyerowitz told him the Independent didn’t need his column anymore.
So, just what was Ochenski planning to write this week? “Wishing Happy Birthday to The Missoula Independent and the free press.” Sounds like somebody decided to blow out the candles before the song had even been sung.
Former Indy report John Adams has this on his MTLowdown blog:
I find it somewhat odd that Indy deemed it newsworthy to point out on its cover the 55 years of collective newsroom experience that exited the Missoulian but didn’t bother to mention to loyal readers why it’s longtime political columnist is now absent from its own pages.
The Indy is celebrating it’s 21st anniversary this year and Ochenski has been there for more than half those writing incisive and provocative columns that took on Republicans and Democrats alike. Whether you like his opinions or hate them, they’re his opinions and there isn’t a single columnist in the state who has been writing them as long or as well as Ochenski.
I first heard of Ochenski’s disappearance from The Indy’s pages by the blogger “jhwygirl” who had this to say at 4&20 Blackbirds, a liberal Montana blog:
To come to find this week’s Indy barren of Ochenski’s column was..well….just plain wrong. The fact that the Indy didn’t have the decency to offer its (maybe now not so) loyal readers an explanation is perplexing.