By Mark Hanzlik, Executive Director
Missoula Independent has become the latest publishing casualty in the alt media world.
This one seemed more surprising, not just in the preventative action itself from corporate owner Lee Enterprises, but in the world of alternative print media, smaller markets appeared to have evaded some of the financial woes that leveled newspapers in the large metro markets this decade. The closure of this long-time Montana independent voice certainly gives us pause as supporters of alternative media as a whole. More importantly, it reminds how much has changed from simply needing alternative voices as a counterweight to mainstream media to the current state where journalism itself is being diluted and under attack.
The story broke in Montana and elsewhere across the U.S. yesterday (September 11) LA Times coverage here.
Our relationship with Missoula Independent goes back to 1994, a few years after Eric Johnson and Erik Cushman founded the paper. They had just switched to free distribution (15,000 copies) and may have had no idea how many more years the publication would be serving readers in Montana. Both Erik Cushman and Eric Johnson have crossed our paths several times throughout the ensuing years. We’ve worked closely with Matt Gibson (owner from 1998 until 18 months ago), and his staff to bring revenue to a market that is often not included in national advertising media plans.
Having the largest weekly newspaper and the only true alternative voice in Montana be a member our network for the past 24 years has been a privilege.