The following excerpt was sent out from the Flathead Beacon:
Eight-hundred-and-twenty-three issues later, produced and distributed over a period spanning nearly 16 years, the Beacon is preparing to publish its final weekly print edition before switching to an online-only format. Even as the Beacon pioneers a new path forward into the digital age that is more timely, innovative and economically sustainable, it will continue to produce a suite of print products, including its flagship quarterly lifestyle magazine, Flathead Living.
But even as an independent news organization with statewide reach, the Beacon is best known locally for its weekly print edition, which has served the Flathead Valley and its outlying communities with unflagging energy, earning the perennial distinction as the state’s best large weekly. And yet, for years the attentions of the Beacon’s reporters, editors, photographers, and designers have increasingly shifted to digital platforms, especially the company’s award-winning website, flatheadbeacon.com, which the Montana Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest routinely recognizes as the Best Overall Website, and last year ranked it above all the state’s largest dailies.
According to Flathead Beacon Editor in Chief Kellyn Brown, the size of the newsroom will not change, nor will the Beacon’s price point — from its inception, all of the Beacon’s print products and digital content have been available for free, an important variance from the industry standard. Although the scaled-down scope of its print publications will result in some cuts on the production and delivery side of operations, the Beacon’s print media are produced under contract by out-of-state manufacturing facilities.
“The size of the newsroom is not going to change, which was important to me and important to our ownership,” Brown said. “This transition will make us more nimble so that we can deliver news faster, without losing focus on the in-depth, investigative accountability journalism our readers have come to expect. In a way, this was a long time coming, and we wanted to make a preemptive decision to change how we deliver the news rather than wait and hope that the trends that have accelerated in recent years in the news industry would somehow reverse. I felt, and so did our owner, that we needed to get ahead of a transition from a print weekly to a more digital-oriented product.”