The Billings Outpost

Free online makes sense

I enjoyed reading your editorial on the online-subscription attempts by the Gazette [Outpost, July 10]. Your take on it was both informative and well stated. Online income certainly exists. But whether that income is small as a butterfly or big as a Boeing, it must continually be chased. It’s always instant in both its growth and in its vanishing. So-called giants of online industries know this and spend a lot of their would-be profits on technological running shoes, trying to stay fast enough on their feet to survive.

Most people are willing to pay for what they think they need and want. They’re reluctant to pay for what they can get free by clicking somewhere else. So long as news and whatever passes for news is offered without cost on the Internet, few newspaper readers will be want to pay for it. Regional news may not be easy to find online, but it can be found, because people on social networks love to inform the world of everything they think they know.

Local news publications in print accomplish what the Internet doesn’t. They more effectively package local information and get it back into the community and even into the home. There it remains in a passive state until someone reaches out for it. But it’s there, waiting. The Internet, that world-wide wonder, fails to do this. On the Internet people tend to search for and “consume” only what interests them. Internet users end up viewing, hearing and reading a lot about whatever they’re looking for at the time, and very little about what’s going on in the local neighborhood.

Social media giants know this already, and some are trying to act on it. So far, though, local newspapers still have the edge. Skilled reporting on real events, and developments meaningful to the local community makes the newspaper much more effective as a local information source. Many newspapers need to communicate this fact more effectively.

When a newspaper’s ink-on-paper edition is combined with a free online edition, then both the readers and advertisers benefit. Readers have more options for access to reliable local information, and advertisers gain a wider exposure to their own message. By restricting online access in any way, a newspaper chokes its own potential for continued growth by removing a potentially unlimited reach for advertisers. For an advertiser, a smaller reach means fewer results, which creates a greater reluctance to continue paying for  the same advertising source.

The wonder of the Internet for any enterprise is opportunity. Used effectively, it becomes a fine tool for communication, an added arm for any local newspaper, a vast archival library for past articles, while offering unlimited potential for expanding the range and content of every new edition. It offers every newspaper the opportunity to become as great as its contributors choose to make it.

Jim Sutton

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:11

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Thanks for coverage

Thank you for running the 2014 Pond Tour benefit for ZooMontana in your events calendar on June 26. The tour was a success; there were many visitors; and the zoo will benefit with a cash donation.

Teresa Kennedy

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:11

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Lewis puts Montana first

During the first debate, one thing that John Lewis mentioned was that he has received campaign donations from every county in Montana. Not only have all 56 counties supported Lewis’ campaign, but he has also traveled to all of them to meet with community leaders and listen to their individual, local concerns. This is truly a Montana home-grown campaign.

On the other hand, Ryan Zinke’s campaign finance concerns me. It’s no small secret that Zinke benefits greatly from Special Operations for America, a super PAC that Zinke himself founded. On top of his questionable PAC money, Zinke has spent much of his time raising money in California, Florida, Texas, and from large out-of-state corporations that don’t have Montana’s best interests in mind. 

I understand that today’s elections are going to draw money from outside of the state, but it seems to me that Ryan Zinke is more focused on out-of-state money than he is on Montana. I know that John Lewis will put the people of his home state first just as he has done so far in his campaign.

Karole Lee

Clancy

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:10

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Patriotism, climate change

With the arrival of Independence Day, veterans like us often reflect on what patriotism means in terms of the responsibilities we American citizens have. One responsibility we all have is environmental stewardship.

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, the U.S. military remains ready to serve and protect. In order to maintain a strong defense, our military needs safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy. That’s why the military is taking steps to strengthen our defense by using cleaner energy, increasing the use of renewable energy and leading the way in clean energy technology. As our military leads the way, we encourage our elected officials to follow suit and support cleaner, more reliable energy.

The U.S. military also knows that climate change poses a very real threat to our national security. The Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board sounded an alarm in 2007 about the national security threats posed by global warming. In an updated report released in May of this year, “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change,” these retired military leaders reiterated their previous concerns and found that in many cases the risks previously identified are advancing noticeably faster than expected.

These risks “such as prolonged drought and flooding — and resulting food shortages, desertification, population dislocation and mass migration, and sea level rise — are posing security challenges to these regions’ governments. We see these trends growing and accelerating.” Their conclusion was that the accelerating rate of climate change poses a real risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global conflict.

Climate change, however, is as much an opportunity for cooperation and innovation as it is for increased conflict. For example, the Department of Defense has enacted a number of initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiency, deploying more sources of renewable energy, and assuming a leadership role in clean energy technology innovation. A recent Pew report, “Power Surge,” shows how the military is leveraging the private sector’s resources to deploy clean energy and efficiency technologies at military bases to improve energy security and save money.

The U.S. military is estimated to have 384 megawatts of renewable energy on its bases and will reach 2.1 gigawatts in the next few years. Overall, this acceleration of clean energy will put DOD on track to meet its goal of deploying 3 gigawatts of renewable power by 2025, enough to power 750,000 homes.

We can and should apply the same can-do effort to our civilian energy systems. 

It is our shared duty to keep our nation safe. Doing so requires us to recognize the very real threats posed by climate change. It requires us to take appropriate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon, and to generate clean, domestic, affordable, and safe energy here at home.

We can join forces to support the first-ever proposed limits on carbon pollution. The solutions are attainable, but they require us to put politics aside and work together. As Montana veterans, we understand the spirit of Americans rising to meet a challenge and believe our strength lies in meeting the challenge of climate change with integrity, ingenuity and courage.

So reflect on what patriotism means, take steps to reduce your carbon pollution and support efforts to generate clean, domestic, affordable, and safe energy for these United States of America.

Michael Lee, Helena

Bob Raney, Livingston

Mike Jarnevic, Milltown

Lex Blood, Kalispell

John Wolverton, Missoula

John Grove, Stevensville

Mary E. Owens, Lolo

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:21

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Taxation without representation

The people of Lockwood voted the sewer project down five times. After the most recent vote in November of last year, the Sewer Board hired a consultant to hold a series of meetings with residents. They sent a questionnaire to residents asking people their opinion of a property assessment to create pipes through the residential streets in Lockwood. Sewer Board Chairman Carl Peters calls this a “survey.”

As a result of the “survey,” the board resolved to create a “Phase II Sewer Subdistrict” and a “Special Assessment Levy” tax on the 642 property owners of the redrawn Phase II. Each property will be charged $472.92 per year, regardless of property value or lot size. This may represent a great hardship to fixed-income persons and families with low income. The Sewer Board is at leave to sell the property if the land owner does not pay the assessment. That could be devastating for many.

The only voice the people of Lockwood have on this procedure is to lodge a written protest by July 28, 2014. According to the county attorney, 51 percent of the affected property owners must present one of these protests in order to change the Sewer Board’s proposed action. There will be a meeting Aug. 13, after the protest due date. By then, the protest time is over and if people do not respond now, they will be charged this new tax. I see this as taxation without representation.

Mana Lesman Seward

Lockwood

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:21

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No response from Daines

I wrote several letters to [U.S. Rep. Steve] Daines. In the last one I asked for answers to these questions and as of this date I have not received an answer:

How can he claim to be a fifth-generation Montanan when he was born in California?

How can he claim to have passed legislation that increased timber production and created 6,000 jobs when that legislation was not approved in the Senate and has not created 6,000 new jobs?

Daines had called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki while Republican Sens. [John] McCain, [Jeff] Flake and Republican Speaker of the House [John] Boehner had not called for the secretary’s resignation. Late last year he voted against funding for veterans programs.

At the national ceremony for the Veterans Cemetery in Laurel, I gave Daines a copy of the letter I sent him on May 12, and I got no response at all.

A couple of other things to remember. He stated that he voted against Obamacare, and also he claims Sen. [John] Walsh voted for Obama’s stimulus package when neither was in office at that time.

Ron Kuneff

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 09:49

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