The Independent doesn't have a motto. We're slogan-rich, but credo-free. But if we had to choose a saying to capture the emerging ethos here, it would probably need to be some obscure Latin phrase that translated into something like "Bigger hearts. Better clothes. Harder work."
Not that Indy staffers have lacked soul or commitment in the past, but with the addition this fall of three new staff members in key positions, the paper stands poised to attain new benchmarks of spirit and professionalism-not to mention a flair for style unimaginable at any other local publication.
Leading the group of Indy newcomers is Sales Manager Debbie Busby, who has held a similar position at the Ravalli Republic in Hamilton. Busby brings a unprecedented level of enthusiasm to her work that corresponds to a professional style that seems to just barely contain her instinctive drive.
Busby came to the Independent from Montana Magazine, where she worked as an advertising representative. She said that she made her decision to take command of the sales department here based on her confidence in the Independent's editorial mission.
"This paper is going to go places. It already has a voice," she said. "And it's fun."
Joining Busby in the sales department, Julie Lapham, our newest Advertis-ing Represent-ative, recently finished her first full month on the job. A newlywed who just bought a house in the Rattlesnake, Lapham will be handling most of our downtown Missoula advertisers, as well as dozens of other important accounts.
Lapham is still on a rush from her August wedding, but she has nevertheless distinguished herself as a sharp, energetic person with a strong will to succeed. She has already proven that she's an irresistible force, pressing the Publisher into a vigorous on-the-spot defense of the Indy's sophomoric calendar listings.
The Publisher prevailed, of course, but Lapham served notice that she's not afraid to assert herself.
Lapham's arrival has given Indy classified ad rep Erin Sabin an opportunity to take on additional sales responsibilities. On top of the classifieds, Sabin will now be handling all our "Hip Strip" advertisers.
We've also hired an important new member of our editorial staff, Blake de Pastino, who last week became our Managing Editor. De Pastino re-places Dan Oko, who after four years at the Independent has decided to pursue a freelance writing career.
De Pastino says he has been involved with newspapers since he was a teenager. We found him at the Albuquerque alternative weekly, the Alibi, where he was toiling as the Arts and Leisure Editor after a stint there as Managing Editor.
He says he's impressed by the Independent's editorial integrity, the quality of the writing, and it's fearless efforts to be irreverent.
As for the editorial vision he'll pursue, de Pastino offers only vague clues.
"I can tell you that Dan Oko and I are both Geminis, which is not insignificant, I've heard."
Whatever. I guess stupid wisecracks are going to continue passing for some kind of high-minded style here well into the next century. And to be honest, we're pretty darned pleased.