Chuck Johnson

Chuck Johson with Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
William Marcus

As you might have heard, the Lee newspaper chain, which publishes most of Montana’s larger papers, is closing its state bureau in Helena. Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, the two veteran reporters who staff the bureau, are leaving the company.  The news stunned many Montanans who follow politics. Johnson and Dennison have been honored with blog posts on the internet and speeches on the floor of the U. S. Senate.

Recently I sat down with Chuck Johnson in his Helena office to talk about his 43 years covering the state of Montana, starting with how he found out it was coming to an end.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Late Thursday afternoon a news story broke on the Great Falls Tribune website that spread across Twitter like wildfire, and struck some people like a death in the family: Lee Newspapers, which owns five of Montana’s largest papers, is closing its state bureau, and its two reporters, Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, are leaving the company.

Josh Burnham

A 100th anniversary celebration for the University of Montana’s Journalism School took place at the state capitol today.

It was 1914 when Dean Arthur Stone set up tents for journalism classes on the Missoula campus because no classrooms were available for the program’s twelve students. By the mid-seventies, when the Watergate scandal turned reporters into heroes, enrollment hit three hundred students. Today the UM Journalism program counts several Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.

Former Montana First Lady Betty Babcock died this past Sunday in Helena at age 91.

The wife of former Republican Gov. Tim Babcock was known for pushing hard for passage of the 1972 Montana Constitution, a renovation of the state capitol building and other issues.

Montana Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps described her as an immeasurably kind woman who wouldn’t say an ill word about anyone.