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.

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