January Bulletin

Happy New Year to all the members and supporters of the Montana Newspaper Association! Our January eBulletin brings news of the revival of the Bigfork Eagle after a four-year hiatus, the awarding of 2020 internship grants, and the official opening of the 2020 MNA Better Newspaper Contest.

We’re also excited to announce that we’ve firmed up our plans for the 135th MNA annual convention, scheduled this year at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn on June 12 and 13. Look for more details to emerge as our program comes together in the next few months.

Members who are interested in the overall direction of the MNA should feel encouraged to attend its board meetings, which have been set this year for Jan. 17 in Helena, April 24 at the University of Montana School of Journalism in Missoula, and June 11 at the convention. A fourth board meeting has been tentatively set for Sept. 25, 2020 at a location to be determined.

The MNA staff looks forward to a great year advancing the newspaper industry in 2020, and we appreciate your enthusiastic support for the work of our 81 professional members across the state.

Matt Gibson
Executive Director

January/February Calendar

Jan. 1: New Year’s Day: MNA office closed

Jan. 2: 2020 MNA Better Newspaper Contest open for entries

Jan. 10: Online Media Campus webinar on cybersecurity

Jan. 16: Online Media Campus webinar on classifieds

Jan. 17: MNAS and MNA boards meet in Helena

Jan. 20: Federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 28-29: Data Visualization workshop at University of Montana Media Lab

Feb. 3: Nominations open for Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame, MNA Master Editor/Publisher, and Dick Crockford Distinguished Service Award

Feb. 12: 2020 MNA Better Newspaper Contest closed for entries

Feb. 17: Federal Holiday for Presidents’ Day

(MNA Calendar)


Better Newspaper Contest open for entries

The 2020 MNA Better Newspaper Contest has officially opened for entries. Submissions will be accepted from now until Wednesday, February 12, 2020. Please consider entering your newspaper’s best work from 2019 to help us recognize the finest in newspaper publishing from across the state. Winners will be announced on Saturday, June 13 during the 2020 MNA Annual Convention at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn. Full rules and submission instructions are available on the MNA website. (MNA)


Bigfork Eagle relaunches with fresh format after four-year hiatus

The weekly newspaper known for its hometown focus, sports coverage and plucky cartoons enjoyed a 39-year run, before falling on hard times and ultimately shuttering its print edition in December 2015. Now it’s back. (Bigfork Eagle)


Editor Scott Thompson leaves Great Falls Tribune

Editor Scott Thompson is leaving his position at the Great Falls Tribune to become the director of communications and marketing at Great Falls College MSU. Thompson, who has served the Tribune in numerous roles, began his 16-year career at the Tribune as a sports copy editor in 2003 and worked his way up into management roles. (Great Falls Tribune)


Montana Newspaper Foundation announces winners of 2020 internship grants

The Montana Newspaper Foundation is pleased to announce the Fort Benton River Press, the Boulder Monitor, and the Miles City Star have been awarded grants of $1,500 grants to partially defray the expense of interns this year. Internships offer great opportunities for students with a passion for the newspaper industry and our Montana Newspaper Association professional members. (MNA)


UM Media Lab offers workshop on visual data presentation

Want to know how to produce compelling, code-based data visualizations like ones you’ve seen in the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight? In this two-day workshop, Montana Free Press data reporter Eric Dietrich will guide you through the workflow he uses to clean, visualize and annotate data to produce graphics using Google Sheets, the code-based visualization tool Vega and Adobe Illustrator. You’ll also be introduced to the Jupyter Lab environment for working with data using open source Python tools, and discuss how to combine data visualizations with narrative reporting and storytelling. This workshop meets January 28 & 29 from 9am – 5pm. (UM Media Lab)


135th MNA Annual Convention set for June 12-13

The 2020 MNA Annual Convention has been set for June 12-13 at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn. Look for more details in the coming months as the convention program comes together.



Report for America places journalists in 164 local newsrooms

Report for America announced in December that it will field 250 emerging journalists in 164 host news organizations to serve local communities across 46 states in the coming year. An initiative of The GroundTruth Project, Report for America addresses an urgent need in journalism at a time when news deserts are widening across the country, leaving communities uninformed on local issues and threatening our democracy like never before. (Report for America)


It was a very good year for public notice

PNRC has been tracking about 360 distinct public-notice-related bills introduced in 2019, including 80 that passed and were signed into law. Most of these bills added new notice requirements. Moreover, the only one that will have an arguably significant impact on a state’s public notice statute —  an eligibility law in Virginia — was supported by that state’s press association.(PNRC)


Center for Media Engagement studies ways to adjust headlines and images to appeal to both liberals and conservatives

Many newsrooms aim to serve audiences with diverse political viewpoints. To this end, ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization focused on investigative journalism, wanted to understand how liberals and conservatives react to their articles. In a collaborative effort, the Center for Media Engagement and ProPublica looked at whether there are ways to write headlines and use images that attract people from across the aisle. (CME)



What readers want in a story

What questions do readers have about your stories? Taking their answers into account during the reporting process can better connect readers to your content and build trust. (INMA)


Stop saying local news is dying

When they say “local news is dying,” they really mean local newspapers. And even that’s not specific enough, when it’s really about hedge fund- and chain-owned newspapers. Local newspapers, specifically those that are locally and independently owned, are not dying. They are changing. (Poynter)


Bob Berting: Proposing an advertising marriage

Before the customer decides to buy, he can take you or leave you. He or she doesn’t need your publication. But when your customer does finally make a decision to buy from you, and gives you money for your advertising service they can become dependent on you. (Download)