The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By James Walling
Courier Editorial 

Something Old, Something New

Managing Editor Claims Montana Roots

 

The Duncan family homestead in Two Dot, where Walling's maternal grandmother (late) grew up. Her two surviving brothers also reside in the region.

At the time of writing, I'm on day four as your new managing editor. I'm happy to be here. Our outgoing editor Bonnie Davidson (she prefers "reporter") has done an extraordinary job along with the rest of the staff of covering controversial subjects and issues that are important to this community and the region. I'll pick up where Davidson leaves off and continue the many rich veins of reporting that she has spearheaded during her two years on the job.

If the April 4 city council meeting was any indication, there are public servants here who believe in transparency, efficiency and improving the standard of living for their constituencies. I am to understand that the inner workings of other civic bodies in the area have proven less open to public scrutiny. Work remains to be done to achieve greater access for our readership. You'll be reading about those efforts in the coming weeks and months.

My intial plan for the Courier generally is to learn the ropes and maintain the quality product already being produced here. Beyond that, keep a look out for a regular fishing report from local hotelier, outfitter and fishing guide Carl Mann, movie reviews, theatre and arts coverage and increased investigative reporting.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest as I do, I ought to be relaxed and easygoing. But those of you who've met me already will know better. I'm an energetic journeyman writer with nothing but a basset hound to care for and a superabundance of energy, so I talk a lot and I move quickly. If you ever meet me on the street, feel free to interrupt me if you have something else to do with your day. That said, vitality is my watchword and I'll put my own stores to work for this community. It should be good clean fun.

I've lived and worked as a journalist in Oregon, Washington, Central Texas, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. I get around a lot, but the goal is to end the traveling that has marked my professional life right here in Valley County. There are many reasons for this, but the most important is an abiding belief in the power of hyperlocal, small town journalism.

This is a strong community and your newspaper is in it for the long haul. In a changing media landscape, it is newspapers of record in towns like this one that are going to survive and thrive moving into the future. I've been looking for a publication like this one--an award-winning local paper with more than a century in print--to bring the skills that I've acquired during a decade as a reporter, editor and publisher to bear on a community that supports its scribblers. This is, to quote Davidson, "a writer's dream."

Another reason is family roots and familial traditions.

My grandmother was born in Harlowton and met my grandfather at a ranch near Billings before migrating westward during the early years of WWII. He went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge with the Army and I'm proud to say that his name will be among those in a place of honor at the forthcoming Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park in Fort Peck. I'm about ready to buy myself a plot in the Fort Peck Cemetery right nearby and complete the circle.

In the meantime, you can find me at the Courier office or the Fort Peck Hotel, where I'll be in residence throughout the summer. The door to my office is usually closed for hound control purposes, but no one need knock or wait in line. Come on in and have a conversation. Google is great for many things, but I intend to rely on personal relationships to keep our readers in the know.

I recently learned that I have two great uncles in the state and contacted both for advice about living in Montana.

John Duncan, who is 82 and living in Billings, warned me about the winter temps. "I used to like the winters when I was young," he told me. "Just stay inside is all I can say. You'll have a great time."

Marvin Duncan, 91-years-young and living in Great Falls said, "I think Montana is the best state in the country and you can quote me on that. I've lived here all my life. I joined the Navy in WWII and I was awful glad to get back."

I plan to live up to the example laid down by my elders and betters here, familial and otherwise.

While I'm learning about our community, please don't spare the rod when it comes to criticism. I have thick skin and a broad back and I'm a quick study when the education is worth having. It has certainly proven worthwhile so far.

 

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