Lee Enterprises closes Missoula Independent alt-weekly paper

MISSOULA (AP) — Lee Enterprises has shut down the Missoula Independent nearly 1 ½ years after buying the alternative weekly newspaper.

Lee Regional Human Relations Director Jim Gaasterland told Independent staff in a message Tuesday the company closed the newspaper that day and to schedule an appointment to retrieve any personal belongings.

Lee bought the Independent in April 2017 from Matt Gibson, who became the general manager for the Lee-owned Missoulian, Ravalli Republic and Independent.

Gibson said in a story posted by the Missoulian Tuesday that the Independent was losing money and was not financially sustainable.

The Independent’s staff unionized in April. The Missoula Independent Union said it rejected an Aug. 30 Lee proposal to cut three-quarters of the alt-weekly’s staff.

The Missoulian reports that the Independent began publishing in 1991 and was distributed across three western Montana counties.