The post is by Linda Talbot and I like it because of the graphs, which you can see here:
For the most part, MTPR has an operating budget of $2.3 million and pledge drives throughout the year brought in $1.5 million.
So they need to come up with $800,000 somewhere else.
That somewhere else is typically through state and federal funding, as well as money from the University of Montana.
Alas, UM’s funding for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS is down $80,000 this year.
If you look at how much UM’s funding of public broadcasting has decreased since 2014 you might be surprised to know it’s $210,000.
That puts Montana Public Radio in a tight spot. They already know that next year they need $1.6 million in pledge drive funding.
Coming up with that money will be tough.
You’d think that cutting the 24% fundraising and administrative costs that Montana Public Radio has would be an option, right?
Sadly, it’s not, and I know this because I asked.
I was told that the biggest expense in the administrative category is the $98,000 that MTPR has to pay UM for “Human Resources and Business Services activities.”
I was told that this fee is “not negotiable” as MTPR is “a unit of UM.”
I was also told that this fee is set at 8% and is based on “expenditures from membership donations.”
So really, the more money that you give to Montana Public Radio, the more that UM skims off the top.
Ten years ago that fee was 6% and MTPR had to pay UM $34,200 (based on membership donations of $712,500).
I liken this UM fee to the rent that the state charges to its own state agencies to the buildings that they’re in.
It makes absolutely no sense, except if you want more people pushing paper around.
I consider this issue to show the real problem, and that’s the utter disregard for reporting in Montana.
Earlier today I shared this infographic on Twitter and Facebook as I think it shows quite clearly what we have to lose:
Today the Missoula Independent had a story about the continued troubles at the Missoulian. You’ll get a bit more at the Missoula Current blog.
The state is losing quality reporters left and right. Hell, most of those quality reporters I wrote about last May are gone!
I don’t see this troubling trend reversing itself.
I’m not confident in the upstart online editions that former newspaper reporters are starting, either.
In my opinion, Kidston’s enterprise will probably continue but he’ll have to find another source of income to support it.
For Adams at Montana Free Press, I feel his inability to post consistently will do him in.
The only real losers here are average citizens. No one in government cares. Hell, fewer reporters just mean fewer questions!
It’s easier to do the shady stuff in the backroom if no one’s poking about, after all.
So there’s not much you can do here. Cutting your subscriptions just makes the problem worse most likely, and doesn’t send the message you want.
I think the message you want to send is that local reporting sucks and it needs to improve.
I just don’t see that happening.