While the perspective and priorities of the Kaimin evolve year to year, shifting and adapting to new editors, reporters, and University conditions, one thing remains consistent among our staff: A desire to resemble the relevance and quality of reporting at the Missoula Independent.
The events that have occurred over the last five months at Montana’s best alternative weekly newspaper, including unionization, subsequent attempts at union busting by the newspaper’s corporate ownership, as well as an explosion of support from readers and community members, tell an important story about the function of local newspapers.
In April of this year, the staff of the Missoula Independent voted unanimously to unionize. This historic move took place just four months after Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune became the first Lee Enterprises-owned newspaper to do the same. Missoula Independent reporters cited a desire, in the wake of the Independent’s purchase by Lee Enterprises, to maintain the Indy’s editorial and stylistic independence as primary reasons for unionizing.
Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based media corporation that owns 50 newspapers around the country, responded by notifying the Indy it would need to cut three-fourths of its staff or expect to be shut down all together.
The attempt by Lee Enterprises to intimidate these newly emboldened newspaper staffers has been met with a furious community response. The hashtag #KeepMissoulaIndy has been used to garner public support for the alt-weekly’s commitment to covering all that exists at the margins of public life in Missoula, from DIY house shows to Bitcoin mining operations to the gentrification of Skyview Trailer Park.
And so now it’s our turn.
The Kaimin is made up of student editors, reporters, columnists, photographers, illustrators and designers. The result of our status as essentially children is that we frequently find ourselves uncertain of our capabilities, questioning our capacity to provide truly relevant, thought-provoking stories to the campus community we serve. The Missoula Independent remains one of our most consistent sources of inspiration and journalistic guidance. Right now, in this historic moment, the Indy needs us. All of us. But the fact is, we need the Indy even more.