IR’s Martin Kidston hired by Montana Democrats

According to a mostly-blank e-mail I received today, Helena Independent Record outdoors editor Martin J. Kidston is leaving the newspaper to take a job as communications director for the Montana Democratic Party.

According to the Helena rumor mill, Attorney General Steve Bullock has also hired a prominent Montana journalist in his communications office. Stay tuned for that announcement in the coming days or week.

It’s not uncommon for journalists to go to work for politicians, political parties, or government agencies. For instance, longtime Associated Press statehouse reporter Bob Anez left the AP in 2005 to take a job as communications director for the Department of Corrections. Terri Knapp, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s spokeswoman, quit her job at Montana’s News Station in 2008 to go to work for then-Superintended of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch. She now heads McCulloch’s press office in the Secretary of State’s office.

Newspapers across the state continue to struggle financially and journalists are constantly faced with uncertain futures. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more reporters leave the newsroom for communications jobs in the public and private sector.

UPDATE: Here’s the full press release from the Montana Democratic Party:

HELENA–Gearing up for the November elections and setting its sights on 2012, the Montana Democratic Party has hired reporter and Marine Corps veteran Martin Kidston to lead its communications team. Kidston will work from Helena and begins next week.

A graduate of the University of Montana in Missoula, Kidston has spent the last 11 years at the Helena Independent Record. His most recent beats included the Montana military and the northern U.S. border.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Democratic Party,” Kidston said Tuesday. “I look forward to sharing the Party’s message and working hard to improve the lives of everyday Montanans. I’ve seen the Party’s accomplishments first-hand and I’m eager to help build on its successes across the state.”

Born in Colorado, Kidston served six years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He moved to Missoula in 1994 to attend college and graduated in 1997 with a degree in English and a minor in philosophy.

During his tenure as a reporter, Kidston traveled widely covering Montana’s military training and the state’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan. He toured both the northern and southern U.S. borders, and he recently travelled to Guatemala with the Helena Diocese to report on the Catholic mission in Santo Tomas.

Kidston is also the author of three books, including “Cromwell Dixon: A Boy and His Plane,” and “From Poplar to Papua: Montana’s 163rd Infantry Regiment in World War II.”