Dogged Reporter, Peregrine Frissell Wins Hearst Award For Athletic Investigation

Montana Kaimin web editor and reporter, Peregrine Frissell, had never written a sports story before when he started investigating UM’s controversial compliance efforts with NCAA regulations this past October. After being published in the Kaimin on November 4th, 2015, his story, “Unsportsmanlike Conduct,” won 7th in the Hearst Awards competition for Sports Reporting.

photo of Peregrine Frissell holding a small monkey.
Frissell takes a moment to pose for a photo while reporting abroad in Nepal. Photo by Peregrine Frissell.

“Peregrine did a great job of looking at athletics on the UM campus beyond just the scoreboard,” said Nadia White, faculty advisor to the Kaimin. “His story looked at NCAA rules and regulations and examined what those mean for student athletes.”

Frissell’s research involved digging into those regulations and interviewing UM athletic officials and the NCAA representatives to whom they report any infringements. Violations included anything from coaches recruiting high school athletes too aggressively to convictions of current athletes who commit off-the-field incidents. Frissell said talking to public representatives of those departments was challenging because they wanted to keep control of the information they told him during interviews.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, the fall 2015 Pollner professor and advisor to the Kaimin, said, that a lot of journalists would have dropped the story when they heard officials use the term ‘minor infractions’. “Don’t let the administration convince you it’s no big deal. Ask the right questions,” he said. “UM mis-reported and mis-understood the facts, but Peregrine understood the bigger picture here, and he pursued that to explain it in context.”

“I needed every minute I got,” Frissell said, since he only had two weeks to get the story to print. “I’m really thankful to get recognized.”

Yet Frissell has plenty of reporting experience, both in Montana and abroad. He’s been a Global Leadership Initiative fellow at UM and completed studies in the UK and Thailand, as well as working as a reporting intern for the Nepali Times. “I arrived a month after the earthquake and spent much of my time outside of Katmandu, covering earthquake recovery,” he said. “The earthquake was tragic, but I enjoyed my experience there.”

Back on the UM campus, Frissell has worked with the Montana Journalism Review (MJR) as both an editor and a reporter, and he’s now pursing political stories on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana as part of the class Native News.

“Peregrine is a dogged reporter. He’s critical and curious, and his instincts are spot on,” Nicky Ouellet said. As a graduate student, she’s overseen his work at MJR and now for Native News. “He’s the type of reporter an editor hopes for—capable of following a tip to create a deeply reported and contextualized story. I’ve enjoyed working with him and can’t wait to see what he pops out in the future.”

Scheduled to complete his journalism degree in May, Frissell said he wants to report in the US for a couple of years and then go back abroad. “I’m still waiting to hear back about potential jobs and internships,” he said.

However, Van Valkenburg has high hopes for Frissell’s future. “He reads a lot and is interested in things of public interest and importance,” he said. “Peregrine will make a great investigative reporter.”

Catch the latest news updates with Peregrine Frissell via Twitter.

By Jana Wiegand
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