MJR 2017 publishes “Far From Comfort” edition

MJR staff members pose with the newest edition of the magazine.
MJR staff members pose with the newest edition of the magazine.

The new edition of Montana Journalism Review tracks Western journalists as national and global events push them past their comfort zones.

From local coverage of refugee resettlement to an experiment in right-wing news immersion, the 2017 issue of MJR scrutinizes how news professionals are responding to growing distrust in the media and ongoing changes in the industry.

Titled “Far From Comfort,” the magazine examines advocacy journalism, emerging business models and gender gaps in sports coverage and news management.

“With the proliferation of fake news and echo chambers, we worked hard to find stories that advance the conversation and show the state of the media in the western United States,” Managing Editor Claire Chandler said.

Work on the 46th edition began last spring, when Editor-in-Chief Henriette Lowisch and Executive Editor Keith Graham, both journalism professors, selected the student staff that puts together the annual magazine founded by J-School Dean Nathaniel Blumberg in 1958.

Over the following seven months, student editors, writers, photographers and designers learned how to problem-solve and work together as they brainstormed story ideas and headlines, recruited contributors, sold ads and got the 68-page book ready for print.

While Art Director Delaney Kutsal envisioned the magazine’s design elements, from color scheme to formatting, senior editors Diana Six, Katy Spence, Dakota Wharry and Bayley Butler handpicked stories and took them through three rounds of editing. Contributors to MJR 2017 include former Missoulian Editor Sherry Devlin and Wyofile reporter Dustin Bleizeffer as well as J-School alums Evan Frost, Tess Haas, Carli Krueger and Hunter Pauli. Current faculty, graduate and undergraduate students also wrote and photographed stories, including staff writer Maddie Vincent and staff photographer Olivia Vanni.

In October, final drafts were sent off to Copy Chief Taylor Crews, who organized her team for the stringent fact-checking and copy-editing process. Designers got their hands on copy in early November and faced a quick two-week turnaround.

In addition to the print magazine released on Dec. 16, 2016, MJR published its stories on its website at mjr.jour.umt.edu, under the leadership of Web Editor Matt Roberts. It also produced Framing a Movement: The Media at Standing Rock, a web documentary orchestrated by Senior Editor Kathleen Stone and funded with the help of the J-School’s Blumberg Fund for Investigative Journalism and UM President Royce Engstrom.

Montana Journalism Review is the product of a journalism capstone course offered each fall. The magazine is financed through ad sales and support from the School of Journalism. The print edition is sent out to 750 subscribers across Montana, the nation and the world.

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

The New Weekly Kaimin Starts Strong

By Andrew Graham

Wednesday morning, University of Montana students woke up to their first Montana Kaimin of the school year, in its new weekly and full color format. The change from a daily to weekly printed paper came at the end of last year, as the Kaimin adapted to industry wide changes in print journalism.

Official logo for the Montana Kaimin newspaper

The new format will feature 24 pages and be in news racks every Wednesday. The first issue paid homage to the Grizzlie’s come-from-behind thriller against North Dakota State, with a large cover photo of running back Joey Counts breaking into the end zone.

“It’s awesome, it’s beautiful,” said Editor-in-Chief Cavan Williams, “the colors really pop and we’ve got a great picture on the cover.” Inside a pair of feature stores from Sports Reporter Andrew Houghton support the cover, with one recapping the game and another describing University of Montana’s acquisition of new head football coach Bob Stitt.

Williams said he’s pleased to be at the helm of a paper going into a weekly format, where writers and editors for the print edition will always be thinking two weeks ahead. Breaking news will be covered from the Kaimin’s revamped website and social media platform.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, Senior Writer at ESPN the Magazine, is helping to guide the Kaimin’s transition as the visiting T. Anthony Pollner Professor for the fall semester. “I think it was great to see the Kaimin start strong with the new year, after all the change it underwent,” he said.

In the paper the change was greeted with excitement, as well as a certain amount of hat tipping to the new world of journalism today. “Change is often scary, exciting and chaotic, but to not embrace it is foolish,” Williams wrote to Kaimin readers in a Letter from the Editor. It’s a message journalism students especially can embrace.