In April 2016, TV host and Flathead Beacon owner Maury Povich appeared on CNN with his wife, news anchor and reporter Connie Chung. Among other topics, they spoke with host Brian Stelter about their award-winning local newspaper in Kalispell, which had recently earned nationwide recognition.
"It's really homegrown and it's been a critical success," Maury told Stetler.
Weekly in print and daily online, the Beacon serves the Flathead Valley with local news, original reporting, feature writing, and investigative stories. About to turn 10 years old, the free newspaper has been recognized by the Montana Newspaper Association as the best state weekly.
Just a month before Maury and Connie glowed with pride for the Beacon on national television, freelance journalist Heidi Gaiser published in the Columbia Journalism Review a story titled, “Why a weekly tabloid owned by Maury Povich might have ‘the best newsroom in Montana.’”
The story, which quickly spread across the Internet, traces the well-respected paper’s legacy back to Maury’s childhood. He grew up under the watchful eye of his father, Shirley Povich, a sportswriter for The Washington Post for 74 years. Needless to say, a great respect for journalism ran through the whole Povich family.
In 1998, Maury and Connie purchased a home in the Flathead Valley, choosing the region for its beauty and personality. Then, in the late 2000s, Maury realized “that the Flathead Valley and Northwest Montana near Glacier National Park wanted another option in terms of journalism,” as he told Stetler. So, both to meet the needs of information-hungry Northwest Montanans and to honor his father, Maury decided to blaze a new path in local news.
Maury recalled in an interview with Gaiser that, at the time, “a lot of people said to me, ‘You’re going to do what? Start a newspaper now, when newspapers are closing?’ People thought I was kind of nuts.”
He wasn’t. The Beacon hasn’t stopped growing. Its staff has more than doubled in size since day one. Named one of Outside Magazine’s 100 “Best Places to Work,” some Beacon employees have even traveled across the country to work here. Under the Flathead Beacon Productions umbrella, a new design, video, and marketing team works with outside clients to create websites, manage events, and oversee advertising campaigns.
The first paper, published in May 2007, totaled 24 pages. Now the book often tops out at almost 70 pages per edition, with 25,000 copies printed each week. The award-winning website sees about 100,000 unique visitors per month, and the title has expanded to include Flathead Living Magazine, a regional lifestyle publication, and Glacier Journal, an annual review and guide for Glacier National Park.
“The paper does excellent journalism, and [editor] Kellyn [Brown] has created a vibrant work environment,” Carol Van Valkenburg, who taught for 30 years at the University of Montana’s journalism school, told Gaiser. “He’s made journalism fun again. I’ve sent a lot of reporters his direction, and they have thrived.”
With an office in downtown Kalispell, the Beacon sits at the heart of the Flathead. But the Main Street location lends the paper far more than journalistic neutrality. It’s also central, accessible, and bustling with economic and cultural activity—all necessary for a business that thrives on connectivity. Just as Maury’s roots are grounded in his family tradition, the Beacon’s are set deep in this downtown community.
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