Montana newspapers come in all shapes, sizes but the goal is the same

Outlook Publisher

The reports of the demise of newspapers are greatly exaggerated.
The reason I know this is that me and most of the Outlook staff ventured down to the 132nd annual Montana Newspaper Association meeting in Lewistown last weekend.
I won’t highlight the awards this paper won in this space because I have always believed a paper is only as good as its last issue and that every week we have another opportunity to put out a perfect paper.
My measure of the success of a newspaper is if we informed – and even entertained – our local readers and provided news and advertising they can’t find anywhere else.
The meeting was hosted at the Yogo Inn and as the more than 250 registrants arrived, they were greeted with random Page Ones from 80 Montana newspapers. Montana has more than 100 newspapers and 83 of them belong to the MNA.
The Montana Standard’s Page One featured a story on Dennis Washington. The Missoulian had a photo of a terrible fire just outside of Missoula. The smaller papers featured 4-H kids, crime stories and other unique snippets in towns from Broadus to Libby and Sidney to Hamilton.
The newspaper owned by TV personalities Maury Povich and Connie Chung – The Flathead Beacon – was the most talked-about publication. The staff has a running club that gathers after the weekly paper is “put to bed” and has several types of beer on tap in the newsroom.
That might be the exception…beer and running hardly ever go together in newspapering.
Montana newspapers run the gamut from a mom and pop operation like in Choteau to a corporate holding like the Gazette, the Kalispell InterLake or the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
The new MNA president, Darla Downs, is a prime example of the wide-ranging footprint of the organization. The owner of the Herald-News & Searchlight (any guesses where these papers are?) is from a third-generation newspaper family who has been attending MNA conventions since she was an infant.
Kyle Rickhoff of the Billings Gazette will be the president the following year.

The theme of the conference should have been: We are all in this together.
Old and new advertising ideas were shared in the same meeting room as a Google instructor showed journalists how to find what was the most Googled word in Montana the previous day.
People who had attended 50 conventions welcomed those of us who were attending our first.
One reoccurring message was that as local news coverage shrinks, there was fear that nobody would be left to cover city council, school boards or local sports. Here in Laurel, many times the Outlook is the only media in the audience and oftentimes represents 100 percent of the local turnout as well.
Shining a light on what is going on is an important and is mentioned several times in the MNA Mission Statement.
The fundamental aspirations are:
• Promote the value of a free press to democracy.
• Promote the newspaper industry and newspaper readership across Montana.
•Defend and protect the First Amendment.
• Defend and expand public access to government records.
• Collect and preserve the records of Montana journalism.
• Focus on professional development, specifically journalism education.

Newspapers, like all businesses, have to adjust to the business climate in their location. If local businesses are closing or slowing down, their advertising budget shrinks accordingly. We continue to do the best we can with what we have.
The Laurel Outlook thanks our readers and advertisers. Without your support, much of the good stuff that goes on in our community would go unnoticed.
We appreciate you!
This edition of the Outlook is our 51st one in our 108th year of publishing and our best is yet to come.
People will continue to receive their news in many different platforms. Our challenge is to provide the vital information in which ever way they want it and to remain relevant as we enter our 109th year.
As always your opinion and story ideas are always appreciated…as is your subscription.

All the best!

Upcoming Events

Monday, June 17, 2019
Corinthian Lodge No. 72, AF&AM, first & third Monday, 7:30 p.m., Masonic Temple, Laurel Masonic Temple, 9900 Airport Road (except July-August)
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check for more info. Find them on Facebook . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503

The Laurel Outlook


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