Missoulian Newspaper Publisher Upbeat Despite Sale of Building
It was announced recently that the Missoulian newspaper would no longer be printed in Missoula, and that the Missoulian building itself was being sold.
That being said, Publisher Jim Strauss told KGVO News on Monday that the Missoulian building is already under unsolicited contract.
“I started as publisher about two years ago and unsolicited, we were getting a lot of offers on the building and these offers were north of $7 million,” said Strauss. “We decided that the fairest thing to do would be to list the building, because the offers we were receiving were certainly attractive. So we decided to list the building to give everybody an equal shot to put forth an offer, and we did receive a very attractive offer and the building is now under contract.”
Strauss said, like all businesses, the Missoulian took a hit when the COVID 19 pandemic swept through the country, and specifically western Montana.
“The pandemic was such a game changer, and how that affected the Missoulian was a paradox,” he said. “On the one hand, our advertisers are local businesses and Missoula is a tourism town. It's a university town and the hospitality industry and related businesses were hard hit by the pandemic, so we did see some of them cut back operations and that necessitated them reducing some of their advertising.”
Conversely, Strauss said the Missoulian saw strong numbers in new newspaper subscriptions, as well as online subscriptions.
“At the same time, we had just a fantastic year,” he said. “On the circulation side, our paid circulation is up about 18% year over year. We've seen strong subscription growth in print and in digital subscriptions. We saw increased online traffic. For instance, in the latest month, we had 7.1 million page views, and we had almost 700,000 unique visitors to our website. Now those are record numbers.”
Strauss said despite moving out of the iconic Missoulian building and with the printing of the actual paper moving to Helena, the Missoulian will still have a strong downtown presence.
“I will say that the fact that we need to discontinue our printing operations in Missoula, that was a difficult choice,” he said. “ The building's under contract and it hasn't closed yet, but if we do move, it will probably be early to late summer, but we'll be right in the heart of town in an easily accessible place so we can we look forward to continuing to serve Missoula.”
The Missoulian was first published on September 15, 1870.