Where’s Ochenski?

If you pick up a copy of the Missoula Independent today there’s a story on the cover about the 55 years of collective newsroom experience recently exiting the Missoulian newsroom.

I can’t find the link to the story from today’s paper, but a recent Indy blog post pointed out the departures of longtime Missoulian reporters Michael Moore, Joe Nickell, Jamie Kelly and Chelsi Moy.

Interestingly, I can’t seem to find something else in the Indy today: I can’t seem to find a link to longtime political columnist George Ochenski’s regular weekly column.

As I do on most Thursday mornings, I logged on to the Indy today to see what insight and analysis Ochenski would have on Tuesday’s primary race results, but I can’t seem find it.

Ochenski has, as far as I know, never missed a weekly column in 11 or 12 years of writing at the Indy. He’s written over 550 columns since he started “rattling the cage” of the state’s political establishment back in 2000 or so. When I worked there, Ochenski’s column reliably arrived at the Indy newsroom offices every Tuesday morning and occupied the same page in the paper week in and week out without fail.

So where is he this week?

I find it somewhat odd that Indy deemed it newsworthy to point out on its cover the 55 years of collective newsroom experience that exited the Missoulian but didn’t bother to mention to loyal readers why it’s longtime political columnist is now absent from its own pages.

The Indy is celebrating it’s 21st anniversary this year and Ochenski has been there for more than half those writing incisive and provocative columns that took on Republicans and Democrats alike. Whether you like his opinions or hate them, they’re his opinions and there isn’t a single columnist in the state who has been writing them as long or as well as Ochenski.

A comment on a recent blog post over at 4and20 Blackbirds by longtime commenter/blogger JConrad indicates there might have been disagreements between Ochenski and the Indy’s relatively new editor, Robert Meyerowitz. I hope that trouble doesn’t mean we won’t be reading Ochenski’s column in the Indy any longer.