Independent journalism takes small step ahead in Montana

LBN-CurrentRegular readers of Last Best News already know that we have been collaborating with Missoula Current, an independent online newspaper that is filling the same niche in Missoula that we have been filling here in Billings.

We have been sharing stories, giving each other advice and talking about other ways we can work together to promote and expand independent journalism in Montana.

On Monday, we launched a new joint venture—Montana Today, a daily email report featuring the best news stories, photographs and commentary from our two news sites. People who had already signed up for the weekly email report from Last Best News or the previous email reports from Missoula Current—both of which have been discontinued—are now receiving Montana Today.

We are urging other people to sign up to receive these daily reports, either by clicking here or by clicking on the Montana Today box on the upper left side of the Last Best News home page.

As was the case with our weekly email reports, we will not use your name and email address for any other purpose—meaning they won’t be sold to marketers, advertisers or anyone else. This is just a way for readers with an infinite variety of internet choices to be reminded of good, locally generated stories about Billings, Missoula and Montana in general.

We mentioned filling niches. By that we mean that Last Best News and Missoula Current are both dedicated to providing completely independent news coverage, free of corporate control, on websites that readers are free to visit without subscriptions, without restrictions, without having to suffer through surveys, pop-up ads and other annoyances.

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It also helps that we are free of the constraint of having to support that logistical nightmare of a behemoth known as the print edition of the newspaper. As we have said before, we do not envy those trying to succeed in the online world while still harnessed to a 10,000-ton printing press.

Last Best News will be marking its third anniversary on Feb. 1. You can go here to read about how this online newspaper came to be. After three years, we are averaging about 2,000 readers a day, have a good number of readers making voluntary monthly subscriptions and host a steady number of advertisers who keep us afloat.

Missoula Current just celebrated its first anniversary. The founding editor is Martin Kidston, a Marine Corps veteran who worked at three Lee Enterprises-owned newspapers—the Helena Independent Record, the Billings Gazette and the Missoulian—before quitting the Missoulian last year to make his own way.

He’s been keeping up an amazing pace in his first year, cranking out a steady stream of good stories, regularly scooping his old employer and rounding up a talented stabled of contributing writers.

He was recently joined by Sherry Devlin, who worked at the Missoulian for decades—for many years as one of the best reporters in the state and then as its editor. They are doing great work and we’re excited to be able to help draw attention to it.

For Martin’s take on his first year with Missoula Current, check out the column he posted on Friday.

Both online newspapers are small, but both have seen steady growth in content and readership, and both intend to keep at it and to work together as much as we can.

So, congratulations to Missoula Current on its first birthday, and thank you to all the readers whose page visits, whose donations, comments and encouragement, keep us going day after day.

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