High School Students From Across the State Gather, Celebrate and Learn at Annual Montana High School Journalism Day

Photo by Antonio Ibarra.

Nearly 150 high school students from as far away as Frazer (465 miles) and as close as Hellgate High (seven blocks) gathered at the University of Montana School of Journalism on April 21 to celebrate the state’s top high school media makers, connect with each other and take workshops with the school’s professors at the annual Montana High School Journalism and Media Day.

The day kicked off with the Montana High School Journalism Awards, given by the School of Journalism and the Montana Journalism Education Association. Bigfork High School’s Elizabeth Hyde was named the Montana High School Journalist of the Year, with MJEA’s Beth Britton and Missoulian publisher Jim Strauss hailing her work and promise as a young journalist.

In the “pacesetter” categories, the Hellgate Lance won for online publications among AA schools and The Norse Code from Bigfork High won for Class B schools. Eagle TV at Big Sky High School took home the broadcast pacesetter award for AA schools and the Norse Code at Bigfork High won the category for B schools.

For newspaper pacesetters, The Hellgate Lance won the AA category, The Signal Butte at Custer County High School won for Class A, The Florence Chronicle at Florence-Carlton High won Class B and the Sagebrush Saga from Garfield County High School won in Class C.

Kendall Boehm of the Florence Chronicle won the Student Free Press Award for coverage of a club that formed to support LGBTQ+ students.

“It is always tricky for student journalists to cover controversial issues in your school, but even more difficult to cover a topic that has exploded into the divisive world of social media beyond the schoolhouse gates,” the judges wrote.

See the full list of awards and photos below.

Photos by Griffin Ziegert.

High School ClassCategoryPlaceNewspaper/ProgramSchoolIndividual Winner (If applicable)
AAFeature WritingFirst The Hellgate LanceHellgate High SchoolAli Caudle
CFeature WritingFirst Sagebrush SagaGarfield County High SchoolAbby Pierce
AASports Event WritingFirst Big Sky Sun JournalBig Sky High SchoolHollin Keintz
ASports Event WritingFirst Signal ButteCuster County High SchoolMiranda Moe
BSports Event WritingFirst Florence ChronicleFlorence-Carlton High SchoolAbigail Binder
CSports Event WritingFirst Ennis Mustang MonthlyEnnis High SchoolLily Connor
AASports Feature WritingFirst Hellgate LanceHellgate High SchoolMaggie Vann
ASports Feature WritingFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolLiz Hyde
CSports Feature WritingFirst Sagebrush SagaGarfield County High SchoolAbby Pierce
AAOpinion WritingFirst Hawk TalkBozeman High SchoolMiles Fastnow
COpinion WritingFirst Mustang MonthlyEnnis High SchoolRuby Blazer
AANews WritingFirst Hawk TawkBozeman High SchoolOlivia Bulis
ANews WritingFirst Signal ButteCuster County High SchoolLauren Reinhart
BNews WritingFirst The Howl NewspaperShelby High SchoolHayden Schilling
CNews WritingFirst The Mustang MonthlyEnnis High SchoolRuby Blazer
BFeature PhotographyFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolZoe Sellers
AANews PhotographyFirst The StampedeC.M. Russell High SchoolIsabel Foley
AASports PhotographyFirst Sun JournalBig Sky High SchoolKolja Gerstenkorn
AAAudioFirst The JoustHellgate High SchoolDarian Davalos, Win Duerk and Sierra Meissner
CVideo NewscastFirst Falcon Student NewsTwin Bridges High SchoolRuby Waller, Sam Konen, Emma Konen and Callie Kaiser
AAVideo: SportsFirst Eagle TVBig Sky High SchoolJacob Gardanier, Cole Campbell, Tre Reed and Dawson Raulston
BVideo: SportsFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolAbby Curtiss
AAVideo: PSAFirst Eagle TVBig Sky High SchoolDouglas Lautzenheiser, Gwen Fleming-Campbell and Hollin Keintz
AAVideo: Arts & EntertainmentFirst Eagle TVBig Sky High SchoolHollin Keintz, Doug Lautzenheiser and Gwen Fleming-Campbell
BVideo: Arts & EntertainmentFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolLiz Hyde and Zoe Sellers
AAVideo: General Assignment NewsFirst Eagle TVBig Sky High SchoolHollin Keintz
AAPhoto IllustrationFirst The StampedeC.M. Russell High SchoolIsabel Foley
AAdvertising DesignFirst Signal ButteCuster County District High SchoolSignal Butte Staff
CAdvertising DesignFirst Sagebrush Saga/Garfield YearbookGarfield County District High SchoolBrenna Murnion
BEditorial CartooningFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolLillian Peterson
CEditorial CartooningFirst The Mustang MonthlyEnnis High SchoolGracie Leavitt
AAInfographicFirst The StampedeC.M. Russell High SchoolIsabel Foley
AInfographicFirst Signal ButteCuster County High SchoolLauren Reinhart
BInfographicFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High SchoolPiper Lee
ANewspaper DesignFirst Signal ButteCuster County High School
BNewspaper DesignFirst Florence ChronicleFlorence-Carlton High School
AAOnline PacesetterFirst The Hellgate LanceHellgate High School
BOnline PacesetterFirst The Norse CodeBigfork High School
AABroadcast PacesetterFirst Eagle TVBig Sky High School
BBroadcast PacesetterFirst The Norse Code NewscastBigfork High School
AANewspaper PacesetterFirst The Hellgate LanceHellgate High School
ANewspaper PacesetterFirst The Signal ButteCuster County High School
BNewspaper PacesetterFirst The Florence ChronicleFlorence-Carlton High School
CNewspaper PacesetterFirst Sagebrush SagaGarfield County High School
BStudent Free Press AwardFirst Florence ChronicleFlorence-Carlton High SchoolKendall Boehm
BHigh School Journalist of the YearBigfork High SchoolElizabeth Hyde

J-School Brings Annual Dean Stone Celebration Back Live, And With Gusto

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and donors once again gathered April 7-8 to celebrate the legacy of the J-School’s founding dean, Arthur Stone.

Indian Country Today Editor at Large Mark Trahant delivered the annual Dean Stone Lecture, exploring “Crafting a Narrative of Indigenous Excellence” on April 7 in the UC Theatre. You can watch the full lecture here:

Then, on Friday, April 8, the Dean Stone Awards Banquet kicked off with a gusto that only journalists who have been pent-up for too long could create. By the end of the evening, the School of Journalism had given out more than $300,000 to current students, thanks to generous donors and the incredible community that supports this program and the next generation of critical thinkers it raises.

Relive some of the highlights in the photo gallery. You can view all the highlights — including pictures of award winners — in this photo gallery. Thanks to alum Louise Johns for capturing so many great moments.

Faculty Q&A: Professor Ray Fanning on Past and Present Projects

By Kathleen Shannon

Ray Fanning under excellent lighting in the j-school’s broadcast studio.
Photo by Kathleen Shannon

Professor Ray Fanning teaches broadcast journalism courses as well as core undergraduate courses in the j-school. He joined the staff in 2007 after working at TV stations in Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Spokane, Wash. and Boise, Idaho. His radio reporting on wrongful convictions in Montana won multiple awards. He’s currently working on a project about one of Missoula’s most influential architects.

Ray sat down with graduate student Kathleen Shannon to talk about his career, projects, the courses he teaches and the growing accessibility of video journalism.

The transcript of their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Read until the end to learn his favorite ways to get out on the water.

Q: What was the most formative experience of your career before you started teaching?

A: I worked as a as a newscast producer for probably 20 years. And, you know, you’re putting together a newscast every day. The highlights of things I got to do in that time was I got to cover three Olympic Games: Nagano, Salt Lake City and Athens. And the last one I did right before I switched over to start teaching. That [meant] getting a chance to cover something that the world is watching. That’s really gratifying.

Q: Are you tracking the Beijing games right now?

A: Absolutely. Yeah.

Q: When you’re watching the Olympics now, as someone who has formerly worked at producing the coverage of that, do you find yourself lost in the games? Or do you find yourself sort of critiquing the video approach?

A: I think it’s a lot more curated and packaged now. There are lots of different places to see the Olympics and, you know, no one’s waiting to hear who won because you can find out [even] when it’s in a different country [and] a different time zone. So I find that they’re really curating and finding these stories that they’re going to follow, you know, like the Shaun White story. They put a lot of emphasis on that when there’s a whole lot of other stuff going on. The sort of nightly news, primetime coverage, is narrower than it used to be. They’re finding the stories that they really think people will tune into emotionally. So then you’re on your own to go out and find the other stuff that they aren’t covering in the prime time block in the evening.

Q: Yeah. I can see how that’s happened, too. Tell me about some recent projects you’ve worked on.

A: Around 2012 or 2013, I did a series of stories for Montana public radio on wrongful convictions in Montana. If you’ve listened to Jule [Banville’s] podcast, [An Absurd Result], it was sort of based around the same case, but not the same angle. The impetus for the stories I did was that it had been 10 years since [the wrongfully-convicted man] was exonerated. So I went back and looked at what the state had done to maybe solve some of the problems that lead to wrongful convictions, like the way they do photo lineups for eyewitness identification. There were problems in that case in the state crime lab. So I went back to the state crime lab and looked at what reforms they’d done. There were problems with the public defender’s office [I looked at]. Ten years after his exoneration, what has the state done to try to minimize wrongful convictions?

And then I did a documentary for Montana Public Radio on race. At the time, there were a lot of the protests going on for Black Lives Matter. Montana was one of those states that never gets much attention in terms of what the race relations ar, and what the racial problems are. So I tried to look at that in terms of, you know, over-representation of minorities in Montana prisons, and just different experiences of minorities in Montana and tried to tell some of their stories.

Now I’m currently working on a documentary for Montana PBS, that’s going to be about an architect named A.J. Gibson. He’s probably Western Montana’s most prominent architect, not that most people would know his name. But he designed Main Hall, he designed Jeannette Rankin Hall, he designed five of the first buildings on campus. He also designed the Missoula County Courthouse and a lot of residential homes including the big Daly Mansion in the Bitterroot. He was a force in shaping the idea of Western architecture. That’s what I’m working on now.

Q: I’m interested in what it’s like approaching video stories that are more historically-based. I imagine it’s different to talk to someone who’s currently dealing with the issues of race or wrongful conviction versus digging into history.

A: There are a lot of sources. You can’t go, “what was this guy like?” because, you know, all the people who knew him were no longer with us. H. Rafael Chacón in the art department wrote a book about Gibson. We’re sort of using Chacón as our central expert, and then looking at the architecture and the development of the architecture. So it’s more visual than it is interview-based, which makes it interesting. And then a lot of it’s going to be archival photographs. You can also do some some interesting things with drone photography now that give you interesting angles and shots on the buildings. So, that’s the idea: looking at how this sense of Western architecture evolved from the idea of a log cabin into various other things.

Q: What are you excited about this semester?

A: Well, one of the things I’m excited about is we’re revamping the intermediate video class. We lost the faculty member who taught the production side of the class. Normally, this is the class where students get to learn how to put together a live newscast. Now it’s shifting into being an advanced video recording class. So it’s been fun to tweak that class and change it up a little bit this semester.

Q: What other courses are you teaching this semester?

A: I’m teaching Journalism 100, sort of the basic entry class that we teach online in the spring. I have about 110 students in that class. Most of our classes are, you know, 20 students or fewer, but that’s one of the bigger ones.

[Another class] I’m teaching this semester is the beginning photo and video course, Journalism 257. I teach that most semesters. I’ve taught all of the lower [division] core courses, but in the upper division, mostly I teach in video.

Q: How did you get interested in video?

A: I’ve always had kind of a fascination with the idea of being able to share pictures of stories across long distances. It’s fun to tell a story, but when you can add the pictures and the sounds that go with it, I just think it enhances that.

Q: And this is probably one of the media that’s changing the most rapidly.

A: Yeah. Certainly the internet has changed the way video and television work. I mean, it used to be that you had to have hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to produce a film or a television program or a video. Now, you can do it with your phone. So it’s opened it up to a lot more people. It’s not exclusively in the hands of the media, you know? Anyone can use that technology now.

Q: Do you have a sense of how that’s affected the interests or expectations of incoming students now that they all have video production equipment in their pockets?

A: I don’t know if that’s affected their expectations. But a lot of students are much more savvy coming into the classes. They’ve shot video before, they’ve shot pictures before, whether it’s for Tik Tok or some other social media. I think there’s probably more experience because before, it was quite a financial investment to be able to play around with video. And now the entry level is your phone.

Q: Cool! Last question: can you tell me about something you like to do on a weekend that has nothing to do with work?

A: I have a kayak that I like to take out [on] one of the little lakes around, often Seeley Lake, and get out and paddle for a while to get away from things. Yeah. I’m also a big movie fan, although that’s been curtailed a bit by the pandemic. Something [else] I enjoy doing is sailing. I have a cousin who’s a big sailor so often I’ll go up in the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle and spend some time there. That’s fun, too.