Introduction to Montana News Media
Montana, nicknamed the Big Sky Country, is a state in the Northwestern United States known for its mountain ranges. Though Montana was admitted to the union in 1889 as the 41st state, its history goes a long way back in time.
Before being admitted to the union, the regions in present-day Montana were a part of the Oregon Territory (1848–1859), Washington Territory (1853–1863), Idaho Territory (1863–1864), and Dakota Territory (1861–1864).
History of Press in Montana
The first press in Montana was set up by a man named Lewis in 1864. Within a short period after establishing the press, Lewis began publishing the East Bannack News Letter. It was a weekly newsletter and the first of its kind in the region, yet it failed to survive for long. The publication was withdrawn from circulation within three weeks and is rarely considered to be a real newspaper.
The same year witnessed Benjamin R. Dittes publishing a news sheet in Virginia city which was edited by Colonel Wilbur Fisk Sanders. The news sheet’s fate was no different from the East Bannack News Letter and was withdrawn from circulation shortly after launch.
Montana Post (1864-1869) -The First Newspaper in Montana
Unlike the previously printed news publications, Montana Post was the first proper newspaper published in present-day Montana. It was a weekly newspaper owned by A. Buchanan, and it first entered circulation on August 27, 1864. Montana Post was a six-columned, four-page paper printed on a Washington Hand Press.
Within a few weeks after Montana Post entered circulation, it was sold to D. W. Tilton & Company, and Buchanan remained the editor of the paper. Montana Post is also credited with the publishing of the firstweekly supplement in the region.
The first supplementary edition of the paper hit the newsstands on the evening of April 22nd, 1865. It mainly covered war news and had dedicated sections for advertisements.
Montana Post remained in circulation with prosperity until April 23, 1869, when a disastrous fire swept over the city of Helena (where it was published from). The last issue of the paper was published on Friday, June 11th , 1869
Montana Democrat (1865-1867) – The Second Newspaper in Montana
The success of Montana Post did pave the way for many new newspapers. Montana Democrat was one such newspaper that entered circulation following the success of Montana Post. It is often called the second child of Montana journalism.
Montana Democrat was launched in 1865 by John P. Bruce, who was an experienced printer form Kentucky.
The paper quickly gained popularity and went on to become a significant rival to Montana Post. Financial difficulties and scarcity of paper forced Bruce to cease the publishing of Montana Democrat in 1867.
Other Early Newspapers in Montana
Montana is a state with a rich history of journalism. The early newspapers in the region were not just limited to Montana Post & Montana Democrat.
Montana Radiator, New North-West, Montana Silverite, Helena Daily Herald, Rocky Mountain Husbandman, and Weekly, Weekly Montanian, were other prominent newspapers in the region.
As of 2020, there are more than 150 newspapers and news websites in Montana. This article will discuss in detail some of the prominent news publications in Montana.
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Billings Gazette is a daily newspaper in Montana owned by Lee Enterprises. The paper’s history dates back to 1885, when it first hit the newsstands. Over the years, the paper has grown to become the largest newspaper in Montana.
As per the readership survey of 2013, Billings Gazette had a daily circulation of 39,000 copies.
Both the paper and its online news website covers all facets of news and updates from Billings, the state of Montana, and surrounding areas. The website also covers in-depth local, state & regional, national, and world news, business, and sports updates, and more.
E-edition & Social Media presence
Billings Gazette also publishes an e-edition of the newspaper that can be accessed by paid subscribers from their website. The paper also has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.
Missoulian is a daily newspaper in Montana, serving the city of Missoula & most of Western Montana. The paper was founded in 1870 and is currently owned by Lee Enterprises. Both the printed edition and the newspaper’s online edition covers News, Sports, Advertising, Events, and Information from Western Montana and Missoula.
Missoulian also publishes an e-edition of the paper that can be accessed by paid subscribers from its official website.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman Daily Chronicle is a daily newspaper in Montana serving Bozeman and southwest Montana. The history of the paper dates back to 1883 when it was first launched as a weekly. It was in 1996, Bozeman Daily Chronicle shifted to being a daily newspaper.
The paper and its online news portal cover all news & updates from Bozeman and southwest Montana. Apart from these, Bozeman Daily Chronicle also publishes an e-edition that can be accessed from their website.
Independent Record is a daily newspaper in Montana, serving Helena’s capital city and regions around it. The newspaper was founded in 1943 after the merger of Montana Herald-Record and the Independent. Over the years, the newspaper has undergone several mergers and acquisitions until Lee Enterprises acquired the newspaper in 1959.
The paper & its online news website covers all facets of news, sports, weather, crime, and politics from Helena. They also publish an e-edition that can be accessed by paid subscribers from the online news portal.
The Daily Inter Lake
The daily inter lake is a weekly newspaper in Montana serving North-West Montana for almost 130 years. The paper was first published in 1889 and had, over the years, become a prominent newspaper in the region.
Both the paper and its online edition is mainly focussed on covering news & updates from Flathead and Lake Counties in Montana. They also publish an e-edition that can be accessed by paid subscribers from the online news portal.
Havre Daily News
As the name suggests, Havre Daily News is a daily newspaper in Montana serving the Hill county and Hi-Line of north-central Montana. The paper was first launched in 1914 and is currently owned by Grand Teton News.
Apart from the printed edition of the newspaper, it also publishes an online news website and an e-edition. While most contents on the website are available for free, the e-edition can only be accessed by paid subscribers.
The Montana Standard
The Montana Standard is a daily newspaper in Montana owned by Lee Enterprises. The paper was founded in the year 1928, and it primarily serves Butte and southwest Montana.
The paper & its online news website covers all facets of news, sports, weather, crime, and politics from Butte and southwest Montana. They also publish an e-edition that can be accessed by paid subscribers from the online news portal.
KPAX is a TV station in Missoula, Montana, owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. Though not a dedicated news channel, KPAX owns a reliable online news website. The site covers all facets of news & updates from Missoula & Western Montana.
Flathead Beacon is a weekly newspaper in Montana that was launched in 2007. The paper & its online website is primarily focussed on covering news & information from Northwest Montana.
Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls Tribune is a daily newspaper in Montana that was first launched in 1884. The paper is currently owned by Gannet and is the primary source of news and information for Northcentral Montana.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman Daily Chronicle is a daily newspaper in Montana catering to the readers in Bozeman and Southwest Montana. The paper was first launched in 1883 as a weekly and later became a daily newspaper in 1996. As of 2020, the paper is owned by the Adams Publishing Group.
KBZK is a TV channel in Butte, Montana, owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. Though not a dedicated news channel, KBZK owns a reliable online news website. The site covers all facets of news & updates concerning Montana.
Missoula Current is a daily newspaper in Montana covering news from Missoula and the surrounding area. Apart from the printed edition of the newspaper, they also publish an online news website.
The Ravalli Republic
The Ravalli Republic is a weekly newspaper in Hamilton, Montana. The paper was first launched as The Bitterroot Bugle in 1889 and it was later renamed to The Ravalli Republic.
It mainly covers news & information from Hamilton, Stevensville, Darby, Victor, Florence, and Corvallis.
The Prairie Star
The Prairie Star is a bi-monthly newspaper in the Great Falls region of Montana. The paper is primarily focussed on covering local agriculture business news from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and the surrounding states.
Though Montana is a state with a rich history in media & journalism, the newspapers in Montana are struggling to stay afloat. Like the other states in the US, there is a major decline in the circulation of newspapers in Montana.
It is estimated that there was an 8% decline in daily circulation of newspapers from 2017 to 2018 and 12% from 2018 to 2019. This decline in circulation has directly impacted newspapers’ circulation revenue and indirectly impacted their income from advertisements.
The newspaper industry in Montana which was limping with declining revenue and stiff competition from online peers, took a serios blow when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.
Most of the major & local newspapers in Montana are now struggling to stay afloat. While some newspapers have reduced their publication schedule, others have wither shut down or merged with other publishing companies.
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