By Missoula Current
Mike Gulledge was named publisher of the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic Wednesday as part of a downsizing of management at Lee Enterprises newspapers in Montana.
Gulledge also serves as publisher of the Billings Gazette and as operating vice president for the Missoulian’s Iowa-based parent company.
Former Missoulian publisher Mark Heintzelman has left the company. No further information was provided to news outlets about the reasons for Heintzelman’s departure from the Lee management ranks.
In a news release, the company contended that “the move is part of a trend in Lee that includes regionalizing some operational aspects of the business, especially in markets that have similarities or are located near each other, while maintaining intense focus on local news and advertising.”
This week, the Missoulian eliminated half of its daily news and feature sections, moving from a four-part paper to a two-part publication, eliminating a number of local stories and columns in the process. The daily editorial page dropped from two pages to one page on Monday through Friday, with two pages on Sunday.
The Missoulian also recently eliminated three positions in its newsroom through layoffs, including the sports editor. Since then, the sports section has reduced its local and regional news coverage as well. Local obituaries have been moved to the purview of the advertising department, and several columnists have been eliminated from the news and commentary offerings.
Gulledge has served as the publisher of the Billings Gazette for 17 years, and has a vacation home on Flathead Lake as well. His primary residence is in Billings.
“Mike is an accomplished executive and seasoned publisher. He’ll be a great asset to the Missoulian staff and the Missoula community,” Kevin Mowbray, president and CEO of Lee, said in the news release. “He brings a high level of energy and experience to this new role.”
The Butte and Helena newspapers, also part of Lee Enterprises, have a regional publisher, Tyler Miller. Those newspapers also have eliminated jobs in recent weeks, and several newsroom employees have been offered buyouts in an effort to further cut the workforce.
Gulledge serves on several boards with statewide reach, including the chairman of the Montana Meth Project and as a member of the Rocky Mountain College Board of Directors.
His basic compensation in 2016, reportedly, was $456,441.