With Ad Sales Down, Montana State Student Newspaper Gets Serious

“Kick ass. Take names. Double-check the spelling.” The words implanted on the sign above the editor’s desk within The Exponent newsroom symbolize a current reinvention of sorts taking place at the paper- one possibly needed to save its life.

According to a new Bozeman Daily Chronicle report, the 115-year-old student newspaper at Montana State University is suffering an ad sales slump.  Editors acknowledge a revenue turnaround for paper is needed to avoid dropping from weekly to biweekly- or worse, losing its print presence completely.

Interestingly, in response, the current staff has not beefed up the paper’s entertainment value but its investigative muscle.  As the Chronicle notes, “It has changed from a features-heavy magazine, in which student writers tended to indulge their personal musings, to a more serious newspaper that sends out reporters to dig up campus news.”

This hard news push has already landed the paper in tricky territory, including following leads and pumping out stories that bite the hand that feeds it, the university’s student government.  The Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU) provides funding for the paper, including staff stipends, while also laying out goals for the pub’s yearly advertising sales.

Staffers say recent stories such as one questioning funding for a football stadium expansion have not exactly endeared the new gritty Exponent to its purse-string holders.  Eric Dietrich, the paper’s editor in chief: “People at ASMSU are not used to being held accountable. That’s exactly what we’re here to do. Some people don’t understand the watchdog role.”


A screenshot of the cover of the current issue of The Exponent.

2 Responses to “With Ad Sales Down, Montana State Student Newspaper Gets Serious”
  1. Michael Westendorf says:

    A “student government” should have absolutely no hand in financing a student newspaper that covers it.

    Accepting funding from subjects of stories is an unforgivable violation of journalistic principles, in my opinion.

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