Good Work Wednesday: March 29, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Fresh Produce Is an Increasingly Popular Prescription for Chronically Ill Patients (Carly Graf / Kaiser Health News)

Reporting from Missoula, reporter Carly Graf shares a northwestern Montana story with a nationwide audience. The story is a good one: health care providers in Montana have the ability to prescribe healthy foods rather than medication for some illnesses. Graf’s main character is Mackenzie Sachs, a registered dietician who helps patients on the Blackfeet Reservation enroll in a produce prescription program that makes the prescribed foods become more affordable.

2. Henry’s Story (Story by Mike Kordenbrock, Pictures by Hunter D’Antuono / Flathead Beacon)

This story was published a few weeks ago, but it’s still worth the read! Mike Kordenbrock tells the story of 11-year-old Henry, a Kalispell kid who battled lymphoma and won. Meanwhile, Hunter D’Antuono shows the story with several photos from last year and last month.

3. The Session Week 12: GOP controls the budget and lawmakers collaborate on elk management (Nadya Faulx, Ellis Juhlin, Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Eric Dietrich / Montana Free Press)

We do a lot of reading as journalists to stay informed, but listening to the news is just as good. In partnership with Montana Free Press, Yellowstone Public Radio and Montana Public Radio, the latest episode of ‘the Session’ touches on the latest Montana Legislative news. The four reporters go back-and-forth, discussing the most important details in under 10 minutes.

4. Wildlife advocates concerned about public relations tactics related to hunting, trapping amendment (Darrell Ehrlick / Daily Montanan)

Ehrlick’s story is concise and provides all the necessary updates on a wildlife management measure supported by an out-of-state advocacy group, HOWL for Wildlife. Ehrlick writes: “HB 372 is a constitutional proposal that would classify hunting, trapping and fishing as the primary preferred method of wildlife management in Montana.”

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. Listening To The Big Ice Of Antarctica (Bruno Giussani / Noema Magazine)

Reporter Bruno Giussani traveled to Antarctica with a group of explorers and brought a few questions with him: “What are we doing to the planet that gives us life, and how will we protect it? Or: How are we going to live together in the future in a way that’s peaceful and just?” This piece attempts to answer these questions through an icy, Antarctic lens.

2. Women are less likely to buy electric vehicles than men. Here’s what’s holding them back. (Jessica Kutz / The 19th)

Electric vehicle sales are on the rise, but for some more than others. “As the United States rolls out a plan to invest in charging infrastructure in all 50 states, it is becoming more important to understand how and why women aren’t making the transition to electric cars as quickly as men,” writes Kutz.

Top Student/Alumni Stories

1. The Montana Legislature v. local climate action (Amanda Eggert / Montana Free Press)

J-School grad (’09) Amanda Eggert reports for the Montana Free Press on the environment, public land use and wildfires. Especially during the Legislative session, Eggert’s hot-topic stories often include a political angle. Eggert’s recent story brings attention to three bills that are advancing in the Montana Legislature, which “restrict cities’ ability to steer their communities toward renewable technology.”

Good Work Wednesday: March 22, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. ‘Fight Back’ bill advances in Montana Legislature (Caven Wade / UM Legislative News Network)

J-School students are working hard on the downward slope of the semester, churning out stories and other assignments for classes, internships or freelance work. This story is written by J-School junior Caven Wade, reporting for the UM Legislative News Service (published by the Missoula Current). Wade is in Helena reporting on the Capitol as part of the UM Legislative News Service, which provides daily audio and weekly written coverage of the Montana Legislature to 120-plus news organizations in the state.

The second and third must reads, in the Montana Free Press, are written by current environmental journalism master’s students Ella Hall and Hailey Smalley (’24). The stories began as reporting assignments, but Hall and Smalley workshopped them into important stories about abandoned mines and meat packing issues for a Montana-wide audience:

2. Program helps Montana landowners abate abandoned mines (Ella Hall / Montana Free Press)

3. Missoula food group, area ranchers look to alleviate beef-processing bottleneck (Hailey Smalley / Montana Free Press)

4. After 16 Years Printing a Weekly Newspaper, Flathead Beacon to Switch to Online-Only Format (Tristan Scott ’13 / Flathead Beacon)

Scott reports that the Flathead Beacon will no longer print a weekly newspaper and will become an online-only news service, a trend among many smaller publications across the states. Scott’s sentimental lede honors the publication’s history and optimistic outlook:

“On May 23, 2007, with the newspaper industry in steep decline, the Flathead Valley awoke to an unlikely new resident: a 24-page tabloid called the Flathead Beacon.

Eight-hundred-and-twenty-three issues later, produced and distributed over a period spanning nearly 16 years, the Beacon is preparing to publish its final weekly print edition before switching to an online-only format. Even as the Beacon pioneers a new path forward into the digital age that is more timely, innovative and economically sustainable, it will continue to produce a suite of print products, including its flagship quarterly lifestyle magazine, Flathead Living.”

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. Supreme Court Case Could Reshape Indigenous Water Rights in the Southwest (Virginia Gewin / Civil Eats)

Gewin’s story intersects with some hot topics in U.S. politics: Indigenous rights, climate change and environmental justice. Gewin’s subtitle summarizes the issue well: “After 50 years, the government hasn’t developed water infrastructure owed to a Navajo Nation farm. Now the Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the government’s water obligations to tribes.”

Previous Good Work Wednesdays featured stories about the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio (from Grist and Living on Earth) and the Willow project in Alaska (from the NYT). Here are two follow-up stories from other publications (so you can continue following important environmental news as it develops!).

2. How to ‘Make Some Good’ Out of East Palestine, Ohio, Rail Disaster? Ban Vinyl Chloride, Former EPA Official Says (James Bruggers / Inside Climate News)

3. Willow development expected to be a money-loser for the Alaska treasury in early years (Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)

Top Student/Alumni Story

1. The EV mining rush could come to Montana’s mountains (Kylie Mohr / High Country News)

Last week’s Good Work Wednesday post shared a story about rare-earth minerals found in the Bitterroot National Forest. Kylie Mohr, a ’21 graduate of UM’s environmental journalism master’s program now reporting for High Country News, wrote about the phenomenon and how the demand for electric vehicles plays into the potential mining project.

Good Work Wednesday: March 15, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Hydrologists Expect Average Streamflows in Northwest Montana (Maggie Dresser / Flathead Beacon)

Dresser’s short, scientific article is filled with numbers, but Dresser effectively translates the data for readers and shares important news about the projected spring runoff from Northwest Montana mountains. The story also features a photo of Big Mountain in Whitefish from J-School alum Hunter D’Antuono (’14) (Shared with permission).

2. 111 days of snow cover: Long winter ranks third in history (Joshua Murdock / Missoulian)

While the past few days have been teasing spring in Missoula, it has been a wet, cold and longgg winter. Murdock reports that, in fact, “By one metric — the number of consecutive days with 1 inch or more of snow on the ground in Missoula — it’s the third-longest winter on record. And records for that measurement go back to 1893.”

3. Company claims US’s richest rare-earth deposit in Bitterroot (Joshua Murdock / Missoulian)

Again, Murdock writes for the Missoulian about rare-earth minerals that were discovered in the Bitterroot National Forest. He speaks with the president of a mining company and the director of U.S. Critical Materials Corp., who plan on mining the area despite the toxic waste the process will create.

4. Montana’s housing puzzle at the legislative halftime (Eric Dietrich / Montana Free Press)

Dietrich’s subtitle clearly states what the piece is about: “Lawmakers have advanced several bills aimed at making at least a dent in the challenges facing renters and aspiring homebuyers. Here’s where things stand as of early March.”

Unique for print stories, Dietrich condenses the bills into organized, bulleted lists with brief explanations and emojis letting readers know if the bill passed ✅ , failed ❌ or is still pending ✴️. It’s clever, and helpful for readers who find political news hard to follow.

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. How Biden Got From ‘No More Drilling’ to Backing a Huge Project in Alaska (Lisa Friedman / New York Times)

Have you heard about the controversial Willow project? President Biden’s decision to allow drilling for oil on federal land in Alaska made front page news all over the country on Monday. This piece by Friedman in the NYT explains the situation well.

2. Revealing Your Unconscious: Part 1 (Shankar Vedantam / National Public Radio – Hidden Brain)

We do a lot of reading as journalists. Sometimes, it’s nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy a podcast. The latest Hidden Brain episode from NPR is a good one—it discusses hidden biases we all harbor in our subconscious. And, it promises a Part 2!

Top Student/Alumni Story

1. Lawmakers consider the financial impact of defining ‘male’ and ‘female’ (Elinor Smith / UM News)

J-School senior Elinor Smith (’23) is reporting for the UM Legislative News Service this semester. Her short piece that aired on Montana Public Radio brings attention to Senate Bill 458, which “…would define the terms male and female in Montana code.” Smith writes about some potential implications for Montanans if the bill passes. The piece is short (a one and a half minute listen), but it gives all the details readers need to know.