The Missoulian is a daily newspaper printed in Missoula, Montana. Its print readership is 72,405 on Sundays, 53,333 on weekdays. The newspaper has been owned by Lee Enterprises since 1959. The Missoulian is the largest published newspaper in western Montana. The Missoulian is distributed throughout the city of Missoula, Montana, and also throughout most of Western Montana.
The Missoulian was established as the Missoula & Cedar Creek Pioneer on September 15, 1870, by the Magee Brothers and I. H. Morrison under the Montana Publishing Company. Though strictly conservative politically, the paper was never intended to advance any particular "clique or party". Slightly less than a year after removing "Cedar Creek" from the name, the paper's name was trimmed to simply The Pioneer in November 1871 with W. J. McCormick, a prominent Montana politician and father of future Congressman Washington J. McCormick, as publisher. It served as a Democratic paper that was devoted to reporting on the development of western Montana. A month later Frank Woody, who would later become Missoula's first mayor, was named ad interim, and he would lengthen the name to the Montana Pioneer. On February 8, 1873, Woody and his partner T. M. Chisholm purchased the paper and changed its name to The Missoulian. W. R. Turk replaced Chisholm and Woody would sell out a year later, but the paper's name has more-or-less stayed the same until today. Turk died of tuberculosis in 1875 and the paper was published by Chauncey Barbour until August 15, 1879 when Duane J. Armstrong became editor and publisher. The newspaper would offer only a weekend edition until 1891 when new owner A.B. Hammond converted it to a daily newspaper with Harrison Spaulding from the Missoula County Times as editor and publisher.
Hammond's purchase of The Missoulian brought the newspaper into the republican fold and on the battle lines of the William A. Clark and Marcus Daly Cooper King feud. Hammond was a lumber baron and business partner of Daly in the Montana Improvement Company who saw the Democratic president, Grover Cleveland's public land policies a detriment to his business. Hammond had become very wealthy over-logging unsurveyed public timberland and supplying lumber to the railroad and Daly's Anaconda Company's smelter. Hammond and his associates in Missoula convinced Daly to thwart Clark's 1888 bid for the Montana Territory's At-large congressional district and support Republican Thomas H. Carter instead. Despite Clark crying foul, Carter would go on to win.
Daly's election maneuvering created a major rift between the Copper Kings, and the next year he would become chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. He asked for Hammond's support and Hammond responded by delivering a Republican sweep of the Missoula delegation. This infuriated Daly, who declared war on Hammond and threatened to "make grass grow in the streets of Missoula." Several years later as Montana's press was divided on whether to keep the state's capital in Clark's choice of Helena or move it Daly's company town of Anaconda, Hammond who was worried that further empowered Daly would weaken Missoula loaned The Missoulian to Clark's team who derided Anaconda. "What has Anaconda ever done for Missoula, anyway? If Christ came to Anaconda he would be compelled to eat, sleep, drink and pray with Marcus Daly." Though the majority of Missoula County voted for Anaconda as capital, enough voted for Helena for it to win the statewide contest.
In 1900, Hammond began selling stock in the Missoulian to political rival Joseph M. Dixon who would later become a US Congressman, US Senator, and the state of Montana's seventh governor. In December 1906 Wilhelm's Magazine The Coast described the newspaper as "one of the best papers in the state of Montana and has the credit of being a strong paper in all matters pertaining to public and state affairs. It is large, well edited and a credit to Missoula."Dixon gained control over the paper in 1907 and brought in Arthur Stone, a former Anaconda Standard reporter and managing editor as well as former Democratic state legislator, as editor. His experience would help further modernize the paper and expand its reach. The Republican Daily Missoulian (as it would be called until 1961) was soon rivaled by the Democrat-leaning Missoula Herald published by the Hassler Brothers and its successor the Missoula Sentinel that was purchased in 1912 (one year after its founding) by Richard Kilroy for the purpose of politically wounding Dixon as he ran for re-election in the first year Senators were popularly elected. (*note. Though the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was not ratified until 1913, the Montana legislature provided for the direct election of US Senators in 1911 in anticipation of the amendment's ratification.) Dixon would lose the election in a Democratic sweep and would lose the paper for financial reasons five years later.
Montana's press in 1912 was almost entirely under the influence and control of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, then known as "Amalgamated Copper Company" or, in a nod to its incredible clout in Montana politics and journalism, simply "The Company". The Missoulian was not a "Company paper"; according to Jerre Murphy, a former Amalgamated employee turned muckracker it was the only major newspaper in Montana that was not. After his election defeat Dixon turned the Missoulian against Amalgamated with scathing editorials and "objectionable" news. With Dixon refusing to sell the paper, the Company chose bribery by offering Dixon the Missoula Sentinel that Dixon felt was splitting the city's advertising dollars. Dixon accepted, but only on the condition that he would be "fair" to Amalgamated in the press. Pressure on advertisers for new anti-Dixon competition and Amalgamated itself pulling its advertising dollars as well as having the Milwaukee Road cancel complimentary papers that it had given to passengers, however, forced Dixon to sell. In two newspapermen from the Chicago Journal, Martin Hutchens and Lester L. Jones purchased the Missoulian and was soon part of the "copper press" (i.e. a "Company paper" known for using its pages to promote the Company's views and for suppressing news it didn’t want reported) and would remain as such until Anaconda Copper sold all its Montana newspapers to Lee Enterprises in 1959.
By the late 1950s, the Anaconda Company's newspaper model of toeing the company line and avoiding controversy had left the company's papers self-conscious and defensive to the point that Don Anderson commented in its appraisal of the newspapers that "They even refused to take a stand on the weather." When the papers were finally sold in 1959, only the Billings Gazette and Missoulian were profitable and in growing markets. Ultimately, the financial difficulties of the company's papers around the state may have helped Lee Enterprises, who faced competition from much larger organizations such as the Cowles Media Company and the Ridder Corporation, purchase the newspaper block. Larger publishers were only interested in the two profitable papers while the Anaconda Company insisted on selling the papers as a block with an implicit guarantee that individual papers not be sold off to recoup losses. Also in Lee Enterprises' favor was that Don Anderson, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal and later president of Lee Newspapers in Montana who in 2007 would have the new University of Montana School of Journalism building named after him, was a Montana native who understood the political climate and had worked with Anaconda Company staff as a young reporter. He and Lee Enterprises' CEO Phillip Adler successfully purchased the papers despite not being the highest bidders with an agreement made in late May. The newspapers each announced the change in ownership with a "hello" on June 2, 1959 stressing that they would be accountable to the public and not their parent company.
While most of Lee Enterprises' new newspapers retained their leadership, the Missoulian was an exception where Lloyd Schermer, son-in-law of Phillip Adler, took over as publisher.
Name and organization
The Missoulian began as the weekly Missoula & Cedar Creek Pioneer in 1870 before being renamed The Missoula Pioneer in 1871, but under the Montana Publishing Company. It was rechristened The Pioneer later in 1871 by the Pioneer Publishing Company and then The Montana Pioneer near the end of 1872 by Washington J. McCormick, Sr. before being purchased by Frank Woody and T. M. Chisholm a couple months later and renamed The Weekly Missoulian. This would remain its carnation through 1898.
The Weekly Missoulian continued for a year (January 1899 – April 1900) as The Missoulian (still as a weekly newspaper), published by Bryan Bros. & Hauck. The weekly newspaper was then purchased by the Fruit-Grower Publishing Company and existed as a horticulture and general news publication until the mid-1910s. In 1889 Harrison Spaulding founded The Morning Missoulian as a daily (minus Monday) paper to compliment The Weekly Missoulian. By 1893, this was changed to The Evening Missoulian and then to the Daily Missoulian under the Missoula Publishing Company with Harrison Spaulding as editor. After brief separate ownership, both the daily and weekly Missoulians were reclaimed by the Missoula Publishing Company with The Daily Missoulian lasting until 1961, when it was once again called the Missoulian after being purchased by Lee Enterprises.
- Missoula and Cedar Creek pioneer - (September 1870)
- The Missoula Pioneer - (January 1871)
- The Pioneer - (November 1871)
- The Montana Pioneer - (December 1872)
- The Weekly Missoulian - (February 1873)
- The Missoulian - (January 1899)
- Edwards' fruit grower & farmer - (December 1901)
- Semi-weekly Missoulian - (September 1902)
- Weekly Missoulian - (January 1904 - 1915)
- The Morning Missoulian - (1889)
- The Evening Missoulian - (February 1893)
- Daily Missoulian - (August 1894)
- The Missoulian - (May 1900)
- The Daily Missoulian - (November 1904)
- The Missoulian - (June 1910)
- The Daily Missoulian - (March 1915)
- Missoulian - (September 1961)