Stories are at the heart of everything senior Skylar Rispens does. And, she does it all.
Photo. Web editing and design. Writing. Social media.
You name it, she does it well.
Skylar says according to her parents, she’s been passionate about telling stories even before she could talk.
She graduated from Helena High School and set out to study journalism at UM. She says she shaped her course work to dig into photography and writing. But, she’s also been the multimedia producer for the Montana Native News Project and during her trip to Korea this last spring with Montana Journalism Abroad, she was the web content editor as well as a photographer.
This fall, she’s the photo editor of the new iteration of the Montana Journalism Review project.
Skylar writes, “With the guidance of the professors and variety of class options at the School of Journalism I have gained unparalleled reporting experience that has shaped me into a confident and eager reporter.”
This summer, she spent 10 weeks as an intern in Butte, reporting for the Montana Standard. There, she covered stories like the annual Montana Folk Festival to following an infrastructure bond proposal from committee to school board approval.
Her favorite assignment at the Standard was a world-class mountain bike race. She not only reported on the race, but documented it with incredible photo work too.
This month, University of Montana journalism student Henry Chisholm will accept the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation scholarship for excellence in college sports writing.
This national journalism award includes a $3,000 scholarship and a trip to Los Angeles, California on September 22 where Chisholm and the four other award recipients will be honored at Dodger Stadium.
“We get to watch a taping of SportsCenter, sit in a box for a preseason NHL game and a bunch of other cool stuff,” Chisholm said.
The scholarship is in memory of James Patrick Murray. Murray was a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Times from 1960 to 1998 and was inducted in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1978. Murray is also one of only four sportswriters to receive the Pulitzer Prize.
“Just being associated with Jim Murray’s name is huge,” Chisholm said.
Chisholm, now a senior at the J-School, spent last summer entrenched in sports journalism interning for BSN Denver in Colorado.
Chisholm mostly covered Broncos football but also wrote an article on the Rockies-Padres brawl at Coors Field. Chisholm’s BSN Denver internship officially ended this fall, but Chisholm still contributes several sports stories to the outlet each week.
For Chisholm, working as a sports writer for the University of Montana’s student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, gives him direct inside access to all things Grizzly football and a wealth of hands-on experience actually doing sports journalism.
Research is key for Chisholm when it comes to sports reporting. He spends hours watching game tape and reading up on players to stay up on what’s happening on and off the field. Most of his reporting is asking coaches and players about game plans and strategies.
“It’s real football talk with people who know so much about football,” Chisholm said.
“Off-the-record reporting is fun too, even if I know I might never be able to share the information. I’ve learned a ton of secrets,” he said.
For Chisholm, the most important part of journalism is having contacts and building relationships with people behind the scenes with people who trust you and will tell you when something big is going down.
“Especially in sports, where everything you cover is almost comically secretive and leads are tough to dig up on your own,” Chisholm said.
After college, Chisholm hopes to break into magazine writing for a publication like Sports Illustrated or ESPN Magazine.
Henry joins six other UM Journalism students who have been named as Murray Scholars in years past:
We are gearing up for another great year at the J-School.
Classes start Aug. 27, but that’s not the only way to get the semester kicked off. Here are a few opportunities to get to know the J-School as you get started.
J-School Open House
Don Anderson Hall
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 10 a.m. – Noon
Come visit the school, meet some of your professors and see where you’ll be making all the media magic happen while you’re here.
Don Anderson Hall
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 5:30 p.m.
We’ll celebrate the convocation of the academic year with the whole UM campus, but we also have a special kick-off at the J-School, which we call “J-Con.” At J-Con, you’ll get a chance to use the equipment and studios and get to know your classmates and work on projects with your professors. Plus: Free food!
If you’re just starting in the program, we asked alums and professionals via Facebook to offer some advice on how to make the best of your time here.
Here are a few highlights of what they said:
“Competitive doesn’t have to mean cutthroat. Many of the most effective and successful journalists are also the kindest. Be genuine, be thoughtful, and it will take you places personally and professionally.” -Tracy Johnke
“A story becomes even better once you bounce ideas off of fellow reporters. They can help you see the story completely different. But don’t forget to have fun and take time to relax.” -Ashley Roness, Miles City Star
“The best writing is rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting.” -Shane Bishop, Dateline
“There are so many opportunities inside the J school and in Missoula. Take a gamble or two, it might change your life!” -Ethaniel Fitzgerald, Multimedia Journalist at WDTN-TV
“Take advantage of office hours. A whole lot of stuff is going to be thrown at you and it’s ok if you need help going over some of it.” -Tasha Cain, 10News WTSP
there are lots of jobs in journalism other than “reporter”