2022 Montana Free Press LION Awards
Credit: John S. Adams / MTFP

AUSTIN, TX — Montana Free Press was named “Business of the Year” at the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards, national honors that draw hundreds of applicants from newsrooms across the country.

MTFP also took top honors in the categories of “General Excellence: Operational Resilience” for its innovative, industry-leading operational practices, and “Product of the Year” for its 2022 Election Guide

The LION Awards celebrate sustainable businesses and journalistic excellence in independent online news across the United States. LION Publishers’ membership includes more than 440 independent news organizations.

“Montanans have come to view MTFP as a valued and trusted source of in-depth information about the issues that matter most to them, and now our peers across the country have recognized MTFP as a leader in this growing field of independent online news organizations,” said MTFP Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief John Adams. 

Founded by Adams in 2016, MTFP is Montana’s first statewide, digital-first news organization with coverage focused on the economy, government, public policy, education, environment, politics and power.

“Montana Free Press has shown an exceptionally sophisticated approach to holistic and resilient operations,” the judges said in recognizing MTFP’s Operational Resilience award. “Their approaches and processes keep key communications transparent and collaborative among staff, while also remaining responsive to the needs put forth by team members.”

Montana Free Press spent much of the past five years building its reporting and business teams, refining editorial products, and establishing trust with its audience. MTFP focuses on sustainable financial practices and supports its staff through benefits such as unlimited paid time off, sabbaticals and paid parental leave.

“This is an organization built to last,” the judges said in awarding MTFP the Business of the Year honor. “The quality of their work in building an organization that will serve Montanans is on par with the best news organizations in the U.S. of any size. The entire LION community is better for their example.”

Judges were also impressed with MTFP’s interactive Election Guide ’22, which features candidate bios, in-depth candidate questionnaires, campaign finance data, and curated news coverage of candidates.

2022 election guide

The LION Awards judges said: “The Election Guide began with a clear mission and product goals, it played to MTFP’s audience strategy of attracting top-of-the-funnel users through SEO, and it was able to successfully convert those new users into email signups. What an effort! This is a beautifully designed package with clear top-rate community value.”

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