The Montana State Press Association was founded on February 10-11, 1885 in Helena, Montana, in an organizational meeting during the Territorial legislative session. 21 members signed the original roll, and W. H. Sutherlin of the Rocky Mountain Husbandman was elected temporary chairman.
One of the first reports came from a committee on permanent organization, and its report was adopted, with these men elected: James H. Mills, of the New Northwest in Deer Lodge, president; W. W. Alderson of the Avant Courier in Bozeman, W. H. Sutherlin and Lee Mantle of the Butte Inter-Mountain, vice presidents; Alex Devine, Billings Herald, corresponding secretary; Jeremiah Collins, Fort Benton River Press, recording secretary and A. J. Fisk, Helena Herald, treasurer.
The first annual convention of the Montana State Press Association was held on August 20, 1885, in the Butte courthouse, and the 100-year convention was again held in Butte in 1985.
Dorothy Johnson, author of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “The Hanging Tree” and “A Man Called Horse,” served as the Montana State Press Association’s secretary-manager from 1953-1966. During her term, the association name was changed to the Montana Press Association, and the Montana Advertising Service was incorporated. In 1987, the association’s name was changed to the Montana Newspaper Association, and in 1988 the advertising service changed its name to the Montana Newspaper Advertising Service.
Today, the Montana Newspaper Association is comprised of 83 member newspapers – 11 dailies and 72 weeklies – with a total household distribution of 360,000.