Four-and-a-half years, over a thousand features written, contributors/writers/friends so dear I think of them as my tribe, and yet the time has come to close the chapter of The Bozeman Magpie.
Though tapering since the end of summer, the content continued to flow into October as the loyalty of our small, ironclad readership held strong. When the whole story of the BearCat began to unravel, we geared up for this last fight. Sure, Helena has grown combative since the halcyon days when our stream-access laws were written, and yes, Washington is awash with mutineers. But to stand witness as four commissioners whistled along to the obvious falsehoods perpetrated by Bozeman's bungling city manager, even as locals from across the spectrum found chorus against this vehicle of intimidation and citizen suppression... that felt like the last wind out of the bag. Afterward, this community was left shuddering, and this community paper, well, I chose to shutter.
Fiscally, The Bozeman Magpie has always struggled—the trials of the fourth estate are no secret—but I couldn't ignore the writing on the City wall. Please remember: it is upon the horse of community that noble journalism rides, and our first mission has been to spark the critical dialogues necessary to sustain a healthy Bozeman. Under the present and forthcoming city leadership, that mission appears damned, as does the narrowing plight of Bozeman's middle and working classes. (For the aspiring muckrakers and rabble-rousers out there, the downward slide for the local forums of our republic should be seen as grounds for a last, civil stand.)
Regarding content, we've always courted trouble and our m.o. has ruffled feathers, which means we did the job right. When an underweight young page wields the sword like we do—hacking at the town titan for slandering Montana public education, ZoeCare’s corruption of data, newspapers behaving badly, gunsgunsguns—yeah, it’s no shocker that the growing fair-weather ranks in town didn’t like all that storm and lightning.
And much as I hate to disappoint them… the Magpie’s not dead; we’re actually getting bigger. I’m very much looking forward to slicing into bigger topics before a state and regional audience.
But this letter is a moment of reflection, first and foremost. So please accept my deepest gratitude to the Dirty Bird tribe: TO OUR READERS, to the many Magpie contributors (shout-outs to Ellie Newell, Kim McKeehan, Jay Moor, Andrea Smith, the long lost Mike Porco, Dan Armstrong, and Rob Batzler), to the dozens of sponsors and thousands of supporters, and to those who’ve cheered not just our victories, but our valor.
To all of them as well as our long-term supporters in local commerce—Rockford Coffee, Alara Jewelry, The Bacchus Pub, Heart of Montana Realty, to name a few—I ask that you be patient while we armor up. And when the Magpie returns to the field (February?), that grassroots community support will be in need to help our stories roll from one Montana valley through the others.
To our community paper's faithful, I lastly request that—at this time and only if you’re so inclined—you say these words aloud: “The Bozeman Magpie is dead; long live The Magpie.”