There’s a new sheriff in town

As I mentioned a while back, I always find it interesting to see how competition makes people react.

In that arena, it’s been an interesting April already. May is on its way to being interesting as well.

For those who might not be aware, I live in Montana’s Flathead Valley, which is in the northwest part of the state right next to Glacier Park. Columbia Falls is about 50 mi south of the Canadian border (with Alberta). On a map, find Calgary and head south, or Seattle and head east.

Flathead is a large rural county, roughly the size of Rhode Island with an estimated 2006 population of 90k.

There’s 1 daily paper and numerous small weeklies that are all owned by the same company that owns the daily. They’ve all been bought out in the last few years. I know the editor of our weekly, a nice guy who is a photographer at heart (and in practice) and I’m sure he works hard to keep it “our town’s paper”. He’s pretty good about taking contributed pieces about Scouts, swim team and other things I’m involved in and printing them (with pictures) verbatim. I like and appreciate that. I hope it continues.

Here’s why.

There’s a new newspaper coming to town. It’s called the Flathead Beacon ( http://www.flatheadbeacon.com ) and goes live in mid-May. I’ve been asked to contribute a business column, which I’m pretty excited about.

In addition, I will be “in charge” (it remains to be seen exactly what that will mean over the long term) of the Columbia Falls community page in the Beacon.

There are a few REALLY exciting things about this new publication.

  • It will print weekly, but publish online DAILY.
  • It will have a very serious online component. Video, audio, etc. Right now, there’s really nothing in the state that compares with the big city newspaper online sites. With the exception of the very cool NYTimes .net Reader application (Seattle and the London Daily Mail have one too), I expect this site will soon compete nicely with many high end newspaper sites.
  • It is staffed almost completely with U of Montana kids (kids to me) who got their j degrees at UM and then made a serious name for themselves in other cities around the US. Montana kids, trained in Montana, reporting about Montana.
  • Most importantly, it’s a second source of news, opinion and a REAL TIME source of online news – something I think folks will really get charged up about once it hits its stride.

Stay tuned. Business lessons are bound to appear:)