Montana Free Press

Montana's independent nonprofit news leader.

Helena, MT   |  www.montanafreepress.org

Mission

Montana Free Press empowers citizens and strengthens our democracy by serving as an independent watchdog covering the most important issues facing the state. MTFP fills the investigative reporting gap created by the decline of statehouse news bureaus and diminished corporate investment in watchdog journalism.

Ruling year info

2019

Founder, Executive Director

John S. Adams

Main address

PO Box 1425

Helena, MT 59624 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-5237719

NTEE code info

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

n 2015 corporate cuts to newspapers across the state led to the elimination of longstanding statehouse news bureau jobs. Our founder, John Adams, believed that there was a better way to fund accountability journalism. Investigative, data-driven and in-depth reporting is expensive and time consuming. Driven by corporate for-profit funding models, most traditional news outlets no longer have the resources to commit to this kind of vital journalism. A free and independent press is vital to the proper functioning of our republic. Our essential reporting empowers readers and arms citizens with the tools needed to hold public decision-makers accountable.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Long Streets Project

MTFP’s Long Streets Project explores the economic trends and issues that shape the opportunity Montanans have — or don’t have — to make a decent living. With a combination of written stories and multimedia visualizations, it helps readers understand Montana’s economic geography and what local, state and federal entities are doing in an effort to boost job opportunity across the state’s urban-rural divide.

Population(s) Served

Montana Free Press fills the statehouse reporting gap created by the declining corporate investment in traditional news bureaus. We provide in-depth coverage of the Montana Legislature for our readers, and we allow news organizations to publish our stories.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Montana Free Press aims to be Montana’s source for high-quality, in-depth, and data-informed news, information and analysis. We fill an investigative reporting gap created by the decline of corporate investment in watchdog journalism.
Additionally, MTFP seeks to provide rural Montanans with access to high-quality, statewide reporting. Montana has dozens of newspapers located throughout rural Montana that are either bi-weekly or weekly. These newspapers struggle to provide their readers with news stories of statewide importance, because most cannot afford to subscribe to AP wire services or produce such stories on their own. MTFP seeks to fill this gap and offers our reporting to all editors for free republication under a Creative Commons license.
Other goals include reaching our target audience, growing our organization (both board and staff) in a way that best represents the communities that we serve, creating and maintaining a business model that supports the organization for the long-term.

Our editorial and publishing strategies center around getting high-quality, in-depth reporting into the hands of all Montanans, regardless of willingness or ability to pay for that news. We focus the bulk of our editorial work on reporting stories we don’t think will be reported elsewhere in the state. Most of our reporting is enterprise or investigative in nature, with a heavy lean on data, documents and public records.

We typically publish during the weekday and distribute our stories on our website, via our daily and weekly newsletters, and through the free republication in news outlets throughout the state. In addition to our digital-first print reporting, we’re also growing our capacity to produce audio journalism in the form of long-form audio storytelling, podcasts, and two-way interviews with public and commercial radio.

Our mission-driven editorial strategy is to get as much high-quality, in-depth, independent journalism in front of as many Montanans as possible. By distributing our reporting across multiple platforms and in partnership with media outlets throughout the state, we can reach the broadest audience possible while building our brand and growing our audience.

MTFP has built a strong, recognizable, and trusted brand across traditional, digital, and social media platforms with the reputation and experience of its editor-in-chief serving as the foundation. Strong board governance committed to MTFP’s core mission ensures long-term sustainability by implementing robust policies governing transparency, editorial independence, and fiscal responsibility. Journalistic excellence and integrity are central to our mission.
Montana Free Press is uniquely positioned in the Montana media market thanks to our excellent relationships with news publishers and broadcasters throughout the state. Our stories are widely republished in print newspapers across the state and picked up by our public media partners, Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio.

MTFP averaged 59,900 monthly website visitors between January and August 2020. We have 6,000+ Facebook followers, and 6,500+ e-newsletter subscribers. We offer all stories for free republication, and this model has been effective in reaching rural audiences that are devoted to their local daily or weekly newspapers. In 2019, MTFP reached more than 200,000 print readers through republication in 54 of the state’s 83 newspapers, including every major daily.

At a time when Montana’s daily newspapers are furloughing staff and producing less content, MTFP has dramatically increased content and provided stable work for a growing number of talented freelance journalists in the state.

What’s next? We’d will expand our editorial and business teams, grow our board and the communities that it represents, continue to diversity our revenue streams, grow our overall audience, with an emphasis on greater readership from rural communities and those the 18-54 age demographic.

Financials

Montana Free Press
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Montana Free Press

Board of directors
as of 10/15/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

John Adams

John Brueggeman

Skylar Browning

Gregar Lind

Jessie McQuillan

Drew Geiger