Good Work Wednesday: February 22, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Congolese refugees gather in Missoula for ‘Welcome Dinner’ (David Erickson / Missoulian)

An event hosted by the International Refugee Committee and Soft Landing Missoula welcomed new Missoulians to town. J-School grad (’06) David Erickson leads with:

“Last Saturday was a busy and very special day for the many refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries who now call Missoula home.

First, it was time to cook.”

Tom Bauer / Missoulian

2. Montana youths take climate case to trial in historical first (Megan Michelotti / Missoulian)

Sixteen young Montana plaintiffs are taking the state of Montana to court this June in Held et al. v. Montana. It will be the first trial of its kind.

“The case asserts that by supporting a fossil fuel-driven energy system, the state is violating its own ‘constitutional rights‘ to a clean and healthful environment…,” reports Michelotti.

3. Poll shows Westerners hold fast to conservation ideals (Laura Lundquist / Missoula Current)

“Westerners remain steadfast in wanting to conserve the land, water and wildlife that surround them, although concerns about overcrowding and water shortages reflected in a new eight-state poll are strengthening those desires,” writes J-School grad Laura Lundquist (’10).

Lundquist reports on the Conservation in the West Poll from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project. Though the piece is data heavy, she translates the results effectively.

4. Bozeman Daily Chronicle journalists say company won’t budge on pay, work hours (Darrell Ehrlick / Daily Montanan)

Ehrlick reports on difficulties some Montana journalists face as employees of the Yellowstone News Guild and Lee Enterprises. “…The economic struggles told daily on the pages of the newspaper have also crept their way into the lives of the journalists writing those stories,” Ehrlick writes.

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. Climate change may make it easier for mosquitoes to spread malaria (Dino Grandoni / The Washington Post)

Mosquito season is still several months away here in Montana. According to Georgetown University researchers, the disease-carrying pests are spreading into more northern latitudes and higher elevations as the climate warms. This is scary, because, “The deadliest impacts of climate change won’t just come from floods, droughts and other disasters. According to top U.N. climate scientists, some of the worst consequences will come from disease,” Grandoni writes.

2. ‘This is absurd’: Train cars that derailed in Ohio were labeled non-hazardous (John McCracken / Grist)

You’ve probably heard about the Norfolk Southern Railway train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio and the environmental disaster that ensued. McCracken’s reporting for Grist provides a clear rundown of the incident and the implications for residents and wildlife of East Palestine.

Top Alumni/Student Story

1. Senate committee advances bill to prohibit foreign adversaries from owning ag land in Montana (Keila Szpaller / Daily Montanan)

J-School grad (’03) Keila Szpaller is the Daily Montanan’s deputy editor and was previously the Missoulian’s city editor. In her story for the Daily Montanan, Szpaller keeps to the facts and reports in concise, clear graphs. We learn all we need to know about the story: there is a bill in Montana legislation that challenges ag land ownership, and the recent Chinese surveillance balloon debacle comes into play.

Good Work Wednesday: February 15, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Why are there so many UFO sightings in Montana? (Edward F. O’Brien / Montana Public Radio)

We may be ‘big sky’ country, but why else might UFO sightings be so common in Montana? J-School grad Edward F. O’Brien (’94) explores this question in MTPR’s latest episode of The Big Why.

2. Push # for Spanish (Mardy Harding / Montana Free Press)

Moyce Immigrant Health Lab, or Proyecto SALUD, at Montana State University is fulfilling an important need. “The lab was created by assistant professor Dr. Sally Moyce and includes an interdisciplinary group of researchers working to address health disparities in the Latino community in Gallatin County, a population that has increased dramatically in recent years,” writes Harding for MTFP.

3. USDA projects farm income will fall in 2023 after two robust years (Adam Goldstein / Daily Montanan)

Goldstein’s strong lead says it all (but keep reading the piece to learn even more, of course!):

“After two strong years of growth, U.S. farm income is forecast to drop substantially in 2023 as commodity prices fall and expenses rise, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reported Tuesday. And with food prices projected to rise into 2023, the nation’s producers will not be reaping the financial benefits.”

4. Missoula lands ’23, ’24 Pan-American Cyclocross races (Joshua Murdock / Missoulian)

The Pan-American Cyclocross Championships are coming to Missoula this coming November and again next year, reports Joshua Murdock for the Missoulian. Cyclocrossers from the whole Western Hemisphere will convene and compete in their sport, which “falls somewhere between mountain biking and road cycling,” Murdock writes.

Top Environment and Science News Stories

The top environment and science stories this week are both about thinning forests, but for two different climate change battles. Larsen reports for the Salt Lake Tribune about scientists’ take on a proposed idea to thin nearby forests to help fill the Great Salt Lake. Another Western story, Shepherd reports for High Country News about thinning forests to reduce wildfire fuel.

1. Thinning forests won’t help restore the Great Salt Lake, scientists say, and could even make things worse (Leia Larsen / The Salt Lake Tribune)

2. Does thinning work for wildfire prevention? (Emily Shepherd / High Country News)

Top Alumni/Student Story

1. Bills concerning transgender youth and local control surface in House (Alex Sakariassen and Arren Kimbel-Sannit / Montana Free Press)

In the January 25th ‘Good Work Wednesday’ post, we featured UM Alumni Alex Sakariassen’s (’08) MTFP story about the state toughening obscenity laws within public schools as a top Montana news story. As a follow up, Sakariassen and Kimbel-Sannit report again for MTFP and cover the latest in public school related legislature: HB 361, “which would change Montana law to explicitly state that misgendering a transgender student or calling them by their dead name — the name they were given at birth — is not considered a discriminatory practice.”

Senior Elinor Smith is also covering the issue for the UM Legislative News Service. Read her piece on these bills in the Hi-Line Today here.

Both stories use powerful quotes from testimonies supporting either side of the issue.

Good Work Wednesday: February 8, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Without any immigration courts, Montana is tough for immigrants looking to build new life (Carrie La Seur / Daily Montanan)

La Seur’s reporting covers common shortfalls of immigration courts across the United States and in Montana. She leads and concludes the story with a compelling narrative of an imagined refugee’s difficult asylum in the state.

La Seur writes “Montana residents are a tiny constituency of perhaps hundreds in the vast U.S. immigration system, processing millions of people, but they demonstrate what’s broken.”

2. Map identifies, prioritizes “access deserts” on Montana rivers (Brett French / Billings Gazette)

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has a goal to expand access for water-based recreation along prominent Montana rivers, and UM alumni Brett French (’88) writes about how Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is working to make it happen.

3. 48 hours in Helena (Samuel Wilson / Montana Free Press)

UM alumni Samuel Wilson (’13) provides an inside-look at lawmaking in the Capitol building with just 15 photos.

4. Bootstraps & billions: What the state budget debate looks like outside the Capitol (Shaylee Ragar / Montana Public Radio)

“I’ve got my bootstraps, I’m pulling them up, and life is still pretty hard,” said Shea Kumaewa, an interviewee of Ragar’s on her MTPR segment. Ragar reports on proposed MT legislation that may benefit working families like Kumawea’s, but may also fall short as it has in past legislative sessions.

Top Environment and Science Stories

1. Glen Canyon revealed (Story by Craig Childs, Pictures by Elliot Ross / High Country News)

Childs reports on the falling water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, two waterbodies shared between Utah, Nevada and Arizona. He writes about the states’ water rights controversies and the implications of continued reservoir water loss. Childs adds personal notes by recalling his personal history with the region.

Alongside the written component, Ross’ stunning photos illustrate the mystery and beauty of Glen Canyon, a landscape that had been hidden beneath Lake Powell since the reservoir was created in the early 20th century.

Glen Canyon is defined by its finely sculpted, incised and maze-like topography–much of which has been inundated for a half century, until now / Photo by Elliot Ross

2. Long-term exposure to pollution linked to depression, study finds (Kelly Kasulis Cho / The Washington Post)

Cho writes about a recent study from U.K. researchers that warns long term exposure to air pollutants, even in low concentrations, is likely connected to increased risk for depression and anxiety. Cho references several related pieces of research with similar findings.

“The study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, which took into account socioeconomic status and preexisting mental illness, supports a growing understanding among scientists that fossil fuels affect more than one’s physical health,” Cho writes.

Top Alumni/Student Story

1. How many cattle in Montana die from extreme cold? (Austin Amestoy and Kathleen Shannon / Montana Public Radio)

This story features two UM journalists—a two-for-one! Austin Amestoy graduated from UM’s journalism program in ’22, and Kathleen Shannon will graduate from UM’s Environment and Natural Resources Master’s program in ’23. They tag-team an episode of The Big Why from Montana Public Radio, addressing how Montana cattle cope with (and sometimes surrender to) cold temperatures in the present and in the past.