It may be summer, but the UM J School is hard at work.

The UM campus is quiet, but our students and faculty are on the air and online with important new stories.

The Meth Effect is taking a fresh look at the resurgence of meth in Montana.  Their web site is live at, and their audio pieces will be part of a special presentation on Montana Public Radio Sunday, May 21 at 6pm MDT.  These pieces are the product of a unique collaboration between Professors Jule and Lee Banville, and MTPR.

For more than a quarter century, the J School’s Native News Honors Project has produced pathbreaking journalism about life on Montana’s reservations.  The latest issue hits the web at midnight, May 19 with an in-depth examination of the Indian Health Service.  The website is fully of photos and videos from the team’s multimedia efforts. Those who prefer hard copy should look for our insert in the May 20 edition of the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette.

The J School’s Montana Journalism Abroad project continues this year, as 14 students accompany Professors Nadia White and Denise Dowling to Japan.  Their website  is already bursting with great content that sets up their big story: an examination of the effort to resettle areas contaminated by the nuclear accident, earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011. For the next three weeks, the Japan team will be working on additional stories, and they will be posted to the website.  Learn more about the trip from their YouTube video. 

If all of that great journalism doesn’t fill up your free hours, get ready for the latest installment of the Crown Reporting Project.  Graduate students Olga Kreimer and Beau Baker are teaming up with veteran journalists Laura Krantz and Michelle Niijhuis to report out two new stories about environmental issues in the Crown of the Continent region.  I’ve been sworn to silence, so I can’t tell you what they are working on.  But follow us online and look for their work in High Country News, our partners this year.  The UM Journalism School  is proud of all of our summer projects, and we will be bragging about them all summer.

J-School grads contribute to The East Bay Times’ Pulitzer win

Sam Richards and Tor Haugan are both UM J-School alums.

Two UM Journalism School grads played a part in the East Bay Times’ 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting. The East Bay Times, created by the April 2016 consolidation of the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, California), received the award April 10 for its coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire in Oakland in December. Thirty-six people died in the fire, which prompted investigations into why people were allowed to live in that warehouse-turned-artists’ space and why the Oakland Fire Department was slow to respond to a problem it knew existed before the tragic fire.

Tor Haugan, a 2011 J-school grad and video editor for the Bay Area News Group, was the video team coordinator, overseeing the production of our videos about the warehouse fire, starting the day after the blaze. Tor wrote and produced breaking news videos; co-produced the video package that went with the news group’s Dec. 11 story about the last hours of the Ghost Ship; and produced and wrote follow-up videos, including the exclusive about how the owners had known about the dangerous electrical system. He has been with BANG since 2012.

Sam Richards, who graduated from UM’s J-school in 1983, is usually a city hall-general assignment reporter with the East Bay Times in Walnut Creek but worked an editing shift the Saturday morning after the fire, spending seven hours that day continuously handling feeds from reporters in the field for updating the main fire story on the East Bay Times and Mercury News websites, and doing the lead editing for the online first-day story about how family and friends of fire victims were awaiting word on the fate of their loved ones. He also reported that night, interviewing family members of people missing after the fire, and witnesses to the blaze, contributing to both main print stories the next day. He has been with BANG’s predecessor companies since 1992.

D.C. editor and former CBS, CNN correspondent named 2017-18 Pollner Professors

portrait photos of Deborah Potter and Cheryl Carpenter.
Deborah Potter (left) and Cheryl Carpenter (right)

The Washington, D.C., bureau chief for McClatchy newspapers and a former CBS and CNN national news correspondent will be the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professors at the University of Montana School of Journalism for the 2017-18 academic year.

Cheryl Carpenter, who will teach at UM in fall semester, became bureau chief for McClatchy in 2015 after serving for 10 years as the managing editor of the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina. McClatchy owns newspapers in every sector of the country, including the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star, Sacramento Bee, Tacoma News-Tribune and Idaho Statesman.

Deborah Potter, the spring 2018 Pollner professor, covered the White House, State Department and Capitol Hill for CBS News from 1981-91 and reported on national politics and the environment for CNN from 1991-94. She is the president and executive director of NewsLab, a research and training organization for journalists that she helped found in 1998.

The professorship is named after T. Anthony Pollner, a UM journalism graduate who died in 2001. An endowment supported by his family and friends allows the school to bring leading journalists to UM for a semester to teach a course and mentor the staff of the Montana Kaimin, the student newspaper. More than two dozen distinguished journalists, including several Pulitzer Prize winners, have spent a semester teaching at the journalism school since the program’s inception.

Carpenter has overseen many investigations, most recently McClatchy’s partnership with news organizations worldwide in examining the Panama Papers, documents that showed thousands of offshore investors were engaged in fraud, tax evasion and avoidance of international sanctions. She will teach a course on the ethical and practical issues reporters face, particularly when dealing with leaked documents. Carpenter holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in organizational development from Queens University in Charlotte, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2005, studying ethics and leadership.

Potter has extensive journalism experience in both radio and television, from the local to the national level. In addition to working as a correspondent for both CBS and CNN, she was a contributor and host for several PBS programs. At NewsLab she leads workshops for journalists in the United States and around the world, focusing on reporting and writing the news, social media, online and visual storytelling, and journalism ethics. She has been a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina and the University of Arkansas, and she was on the faculty at the Poynter Institute and American University. She will teach a course on journalism and the public trust. Potter holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C.