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Billings Gazette Loses Editors In Re-structure

Billings Gazette mast head
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
On Feb. 2, the Billings Gazette announced it's eliminating the jobs of Editor Darrell Ehrlick and Editorial Page Editor Pat Bellinghausen.

The Billings Gazette announced it's eliminating the jobs of Editor Darrell Ehrlick and Editorial Page Editor Pat Bellinghausen on Feb. 2nd. 

Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the Billings Gazette, announced that David McCumber, editor and general manager of The Montana Standard in Butte, will now take on the role of regional editor. McCumber will coordinate the news operations from Butte of all Lee newspapers in Montana in cooperation with local staffs around the region.

University of Montana Journalism Professor Lee Banville says David McCumber is an incredibly accomplished journalist and editor.

"Handing him the reigns of how to guide the coverage of these different major communities in Montana, I as a journalist am completely comfortable with. My question is does this structure make sense beyond David McCumber," Banville says. 

Banville is surprised in the shift away from Billings since he saw Billings as the power center of Lee Enterprises coverage of Montana. He wonders if this will be the way Lee covers Montana 20 years from now.

Chris Jorgensen will now take over the day-to-day leadership of the Gazette as local news editor. The newspaper also announced it would be hiring an additional news reporter.

Tentative plans call for Ehrlick to be a consultant and contributor during the transition.

Gazette Publisher Dave Worstell would not comment on the restructuring, saying the story in the Gazette speaks for itself. He did say Lee’s purchase of Berkshire Hathaway newspapers and weekly publications in January for $140 million had nothing to do with the editorial restructuring.

Ehrlick did not return a call for comment.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.