Breanna McCabe: ‘It’s An Incredible Feeling When Someone Trusts You With Their Story.’

By Tessa Nadeau and Jamie McNally

Breanna McCabe has helped inspire the next generation of journalism students even as she returns to her alma mater to tackle a graduate degree and produce a documentary project that’s taking her into remote locations in Montana and Canada.

Originally from Missoula, McCabe chose to stay close to home for school, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Journalism School in 2009. She landed a job at University Relations at UM where she produces videos and edits publications. This year, she decided to continue her education as a graduate student in the School of Journalism’s Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism program.

She earned the Crown Reporting Fellowship at UM, which sponsors graduate students producing stories about the environment in the “Crown of the Continent” region.

McCabe’s project takes her to the edge of the tree line in Northern Montana and Canada to study the challenges of the whitebark pine trees. She is producing a documentary about how climate change, disease, and pests have devastated the species of gnarled trees that exist on the edge of where trees grow and what people are doing to save them.

To this UM alumna and graduate student, it’s not just another story. 

“I care deeply about nature, and I worry about our planet’s future. I see storytelling as my best shot at making a difference for future generations,” McCabe said.

McCabe says getting to travel places rewarding, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole time.

“Climbing up the side of a mountain with no trail, with a video camera and tripod was trying,” McCabe said. “But now the task of sifting through footage to tell the story that captivated me is perhaps a bigger challenge.”

McCabe is hopeful that this is just the first of many long form stories she gets to tell.

She says that when it comes to being a journalist, she is most grateful for the conversations.

“I feel so fortunate every time someone opens up to me, whether I’m rolling or not. It’s an incredible feeling when someone trusts you with their story,” McCabe said.

McCabe says the foundation her professors provided her with is what she is most thankful for and it is why she is continuing her education in Missoula.

“I knew I was learning from the best, and they always pushed me to do better. So did my classmates. We had a great group of broadcast and production students who felt like family by graduation,” McCabe said.

McCabe is more than a student at the school, though. For many students she is also that professor who first engages with them, teaching the intro news writing class over the past several semesters. Her students say she’s a professor who cares about their progress in the program and inspires them to try harder.

This story, which is part of a Thanksgiving week series called “Thank a J-School Grad,” was produced by the Fall 2018 Social Media and Engagement class at the Journalism School.

 

Journalism Students Cover Elections Across the State

Election season has been a busy one for journalism students at the University of Montana.

Students have been in the studios of Montana PBS, Montana Public Radio and UM News. They’ve been out reporting on ballot initiatives and hotly contested congressional races. They’ve talked to voters about what’s important to them. They’ve uses social media to connect and inform. Their work has been published, broadcast and aired across the state.

On Nov. 6, teams of reporters and photographers set off to cover races and talk to voters across the state. Some of the results, including the Congressional race in which Greg Gianforte defeated Kathleen Williams and the Senate race, in which Jon Tester beat Matt Rosendale, weren’t finalized until the next morning.

See student coverage of Election Day here:

https://embed.wakelet.com/wakes/93668e84-92e8-46df-88fa-671bce15a1d6/list

Student Stories: Senior Skylar Rispens Tells Stories Across Platforms

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.

Sklyar in South Korea on the Montana Journalism abroad trip this spring. Skylar worked as a photographer and the web editor. Click on the image to see the site she managed. Photo by J-School student J.K. Lou.

 

Skylar does her thing. Photo by UM J-School student Emily Martinek

 

Nicole Gone looks out her kitchen window to her backyard where she hopes to have a raised bed garden of her own. Gone regularly attends community gardening events in Hays, Montana hosted by MSU Extension Agent Hillary Maxwell. Photo by Skylar Rispens.
For the Native News project in 2018, Skylar covered food security on the Fort Belknap reservation with her teammate Mari Hall. Click the image to see the full story.

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.
Skylar’s story in the Montana Standard, “Butte draws from Bozeman, Helena models to boost mountain biking growth,” looked at the burgeoning mountain biking scene in southwest Montana. Click the image to see the full story.

Skylar covered the 11th annual Montana Folk Festival in Butte for the Montana Standard. Click on the images to see the full gallery from the festival.