Saturday, April 01, 2023

Weaver’s distinguished career worth celebrating

by Daily Inter Lake
| February 5, 2023 12:00 AM

There’s been a change of guard for the Daily Inter Lake and Montana’s group of Hagadone weekly newspapers.

Last week, longtime regional publisher Rick Weaver officially retired after a storied and distinguished newspaper career that spanned some 50-plus years.

A Northwest Montana native, Weaver’s foray into newspapers began as a boy when he’d sling copies of the Inter Lake on a delivery route, and later as an editor at the Flathead Arrow student newspaper.

He learned nearly every aspect of the trade hands-on, working for the Inter Lake as a mailroom foreman, circulation manager and even a stint as an ink-stained pressman. He eventually rose to Inter Lake advertising director, and with each successful endeavor grew his career.

Publisher stops included the Havre Daily News, Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, Idaho. Weaver rejoined the Hagadone Corporation as Montana’s regional publisher in 2010, at the time saying he cherished the opportunity to lead his hometown newspaper.

Through it all, Weaver remained nimble and adapted to the massive changes thrust upon the newspaper landscape with the advent of the digital age. Pageviews and unique visitors entered the industry lexicon — all while traditional printed editions continued to roll off the press nightly.

Public perceptions of the media changed, too. But over the last 13 years, the Flathead Valley has been fortunate to have had a newspaper led by a publisher who truly believed in community-first journalism, balanced coverage and advocated at every instance for the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

Weaver allowed his news team to do its job, even when that meant probing uncomfortable topics and pushing public officials to answer hard questions. In fact, his eyes would light up when discussing open meeting laws or Freedom of Information Act document requests — two areas he’s as knowledgeable about as anyone.

And when necessary, Weaver was never shy about bringing the hammer down in a strong editorial demanding change for the betterment of the community.

It’s not hyperbole to suggest that few have had as broad of an impact on newspapers and journalism in Montana over the last 50 years as Rick Weaver.

The Belgrade News, which he started nearly 20 years ago, nailed it in a story published last week celebrating his career. “The godfather of local news has retired,” the newspaper trumpeted, adding that “it’s the end of an era in Montana journalism.”

And what an era it has been. As far as we’re concerned, Weaver’s chapter in newspaper lore is well deserved and secure.

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