UM Junior, Kate Shea Wins Dow Jones News Fund Internship

One phone call completely changed Kate Shea’s summer plans. She had been preparing for an international reporting trip to Berlin, Germany, when she received a call from the Dow Jones News Fund offering her a paid copy-editing internship for the same period.

While the decision to go to Texas instead was a hard one, Shea admitted, “I’m kind of a copy nerd.”

photo of Kate Shea
“In journalism, there’s still a bias against women, and women face different expectations where their looks are more important than their reporting ability,” Shea said. Photo by Jana Wiegand.

Shea currently works as the copy chief at the Montana Kaimin, UM’s weekly student-run newspaper. At her high school in Helena, Mont., she was one out of two students who worked on both their newspaper and their yearbook.

Assistant Professor Joe Eaton, recognized her drive and talent as soon as she entered the J-School. “Pretty much from Day One here it was clear that Kate was going to take on the world,” he said.

In News Editing class last fall, Eaton encouraged Shea to apply for the Dow Jones internship and take their editing test, which Shea described as “the SAT for copy editors.”

The internship will take Shea to Austin, Texas for a ten-day training program about the specific Dow Jones style of copy-editing before she enters the newsroom at The Corpus Christi Caller Times.

While Shea enjoys the journalism world, she ultimately wants to go to law school and delve into another field that will allow her to effect change in the world.

Her passion for politics comes from interning with Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) in high school, as well as from her experience winning the Distinguished Young Woman of Montana award in 2013. In Mobile, Alabama, Shea met the winners from other states—all very well-rounded, intelligent and well-spoken women, she said, and she wants to make their voices heard.

“In journalism, there’s still a bias against women, and women face different expectations where their looks are more important than their reporting ability,” Shea said. “Sometimes you hear things like women should be on the cops beat because men will talk to pretty girls.”

However, Shea said that’s never been the case at the Montana Kaimin and that “there’s no gender bias there.” And while the Kaimin keeps her busy, especially with the switch to a weekly, more magazine-style publication, she said it’s been a great experience.

“I thought about moving out of state for college,” Shea said. “But there’s a top-ten journalism program right here in Montana.”

UM immediately recognized Shea’s strength as a leader even when she applied to the program, awarding her the Presidential Leadership Scholarship in 2013.

“She’s a very talented and hard-working journalist. I’m sure that showed through in her application,” Eaton said. For him it was no surprise when Dow Jones offered Shea the copy-editing internship. “She’s going to do a great job.”

By Jana Wiegand

Montana Kaimin staff reflect on a semester of change

Wednesday, December 2nd, the Montana Kaimin put out its last issue for fall 2015. For the all-student staff, it was the culmination of a semester of learning on the job as they guided the newspaper through its recent transition from a daily paper into a weekly print edition with daily online present, all while facing financial issues from years prior.

Photo of the last stack of printed Kaimin papers for 2015.
The Montana Kaimin’s last issue for the fall semester went quickly off the rack. Photo by Andrew Graham.

“For drastically restructuring something that was essentially broken I think it went really well,” said editor-in-chief Cavan Williams. He led the paper into its new format, which meant establishing a new workflow from reporters and photographers through editors and the copy team. “The whole thing was just an experiment,” Williams said, and they’ll carry on making adjustments and applying what they’ve learned to production this coming spring. That the fall went well isn’t to be confused with perfect, he noted.

The weekly edition implied more time for reporters to report and write feature length stories. Some of them, Williams said, have really taken to the long form style.

Tess Haas, a 22 year old senior from Bozeman, Montana, has worked as an arts and culture reporter for the last two semesters. She wrote two features that ran as cover stories this fall. The first was about Montana female DJs overcoming sexism in their profession, and the second, which ran in Wednesday’s final issue, was about the dearth of information and clinics for women seeking abortions in Montana.

“For people who are trying to be creative in presenting these important issues it’s really awesome to see them have the space to do it,” she said of the weekly format. Haas revels in the new style, which she says she’s used to expand on the ideas she had last spring, but couldn’t accomplish under tight daily deadlines.

Her latest story was inspired by listening to a friend talk about the difficulties of getting an abortion in Montana. The issue aroused her passion as a young female journalist. “As a young woman in Montana I think it’s extremely relative to me, and that’s what my friends talk about and that’s what I want to write about,” Haas said.

She spent a month working on the story, and says one of the challenges was finding sources that would speak about a sensitive topic. The article centered around the story of an anonymous woman who had an abortion following her first semester at the University of Montana. Having her editors allow her a month to work the story made all the difference.
Haas will rejoin the Kaimin staff for the spring semester, her last at UM, but this time around will work as the Arts and Culture editor.

For Hunter Pauli, 24 and also a senior, producing a paper with features like Haas’ was “difficult but doable.” Pauli is the Kaimin’s Managing Editor, and next semester hopes to improve their new format even further by smoothing out what he calls “anachronisms and holdovers from the daily version”

Pauli writes op-eds for the paper, and the one he is most proud of this semester listed a litany of critiques of University administration under the wry headline ‘Recent scandals this editorial is not about.’ His favorite weekly issue of the semester featured the story ‘Left Behind’ by news editor Erin Loranger, which profiled the Office of Residence Life’s ill fated attempt at establishing a Living Learning Community for veterans.

In general, Pauli is proud of his newspaper’s watchdog role over the University. “We’ve completely led the way on stories for the enrollment and budget crisis,” he said, adding that local newspapers like the Missoulian and the Missoula Independent have often followed Kaimin reporting.

By mid morning on Wednesday the last issue was already down to the bottom of the racks in the School of Journalism, but next semester students across campus can look forward to the return of the Kaimin’s independent and in-depth journalism.

You can read Tess Haas’ feature length story on abortion in Montana here.

Read the editorial Hunter Pauli is most proud of here.

By Andrew Graham

Senior ESPN Writer comes home

Each semester, the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professorship endowment brings exceptional talent from the working world of journalism to teach a seminar class. This fall semester, ESPN the magazine and Senior Writer Kevin Van Valkenburg is carrying on the tradition; except that he is the first Pollner professor to be returning home, and the first to have known the endowment’s namesake.

Photo of Kevin Van Valkenburg
Kevin Van Valkenburg is a 2000 graduate of the UM School of Journalism.

The program began in 2001, when Anthony Pollner, a graduate and former staff member on the Montana Kaimin, died in a motorcycle accident. Van Valkenburg and Pollner were friends and co-workers at the Kaimin during their shared time at the University.

“Anthony was someone who inspired a lot of us,” Van Valkenburg said.

In addition to being back at the University, town and state that he calls home, Van Valkenburg is excited to pass along his enthusiasm for story telling in all its forms, and inspire the kind of ambitious work he knew Anthony loved.

Professor Henriette Lowisch, who first came to the University as a Pollner Professor, sees Van Valkenburg as a natural continuation to a great tradition. “The idea of the Pollner professorship is to inject the reality of the industry into the J-school,” she said.

Van Valkenburg’s experience with a wide variety of media – radio, website and magazine writing, makes him a real asset to students. “That’s such a unique experience he brings,” she said.

Students in Van Valkenburg’s class are learning the nuances of writing great non-fiction and embracing the challenge inherent in a Pollner Seminar. “Sometimes, from really awful things, can come wonderful things,” said Van Valkenburg.

By Andrew Graham