Viewpoint: Missoula Current is now seven years and counting
It's time to take a breath and look into the New Year, one we believe will be good to Missoula with continued growth on the housing and retail front, transportation improvements, jobs, and progress on local climate and social goals.
A lot of that will likely depend upon the outcome of the 2023 Montana Legislature, which is about as predictable as frying ice cream. That aside, we also believe 2023 will be a good year for your Missoula Current.
As 2022 came to an end, the Current celebrated its seventh year of business. It's hard to believe it has been that long but as they say, time flies. We didn't really celebrate. In fact, it was quiet, and the milestone flew under the radar. But that's not always a bad thing when you're in the news business.
And for a local business, 2022 did provide some milestones worthy of noting before they're lost to time and the daily grind. We closed the year just shy of 5 million page views – a record for us – and 853,000 unique users, along with other figures that will simply bore you.
We also migrated our web page to a new platform with a modern design, and more content and material for readers. It was a lengthy process that took months to play out, and while there's still a few bugs to fix, it resulted in a welcome upgrade that now sets the stage for future growth.
More importantly, we completed the move while keeping the Current free to all readers – a mantra that goes back to 2015 and the belief that local news and information should be accessible to all, regardless of their ability to contribute.
We also made the transition while maintaining our dedication to local news, ranging from government to the environment, business to music.
And it was a significant year in the way of news. Missoula lost a beloved mayor, transitioned to a new mayor and appointed a new council member.
Taxes went up at both the city and county, and state leaders more than ever before now realize what local officials have been saying for years – the state's tax system no longer works. We'll see what they do about it during the Legislature.
The airport also opened the first phase of its new passenger terminal – a $67 million project that sets the stage for the next two phases of construction. Across the city, a significant number of housing projects also broke ground, including several income-restricted apartments.
But looking to the past is only good for so long, and the Current also is looking to the future. Missoula will have a competitive mayoral race this year, will decide the future of Marshall Mountain, will vote on a number of transportation projects (Higgins Avenue for one), and will watch the 2023 Legislature as it attempts to address a record number of bills.
As for us, we also have goals this year, though most of them will occur behind the scenes to position the Current for another seven years of coverage. We'll continue our partnership with KPAX, strengthen our growing relationship with the University of Montana School of Journalism, bring another reporter on board, and do our best to continue providing timely, balanced news on local issues.
The support and contribution of readers has brought us to this point, and it's that support that will fuel the next year. Akin to the Rifleman's Creed in the Marines, “These are our readers, and without our readers, we are nothing.”
Okay, maybe that's not the best analogy, but it's early on a Monday morning. You get my drift. Missoula deserves a good range of news and we at the Current are simply proud to be part of the mix. Thank you and here's to 2023.
Martin Kidston is a former Marine and University of Montana graduate who founded the Missoula Current in 2015 after working with Lee Enterprises for 15 years.