Good Work Wednesday: March 8, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. ‘Dean’ of Montana Journalism Charles S. Johnson Dies

The Montana journalism community is mourning the loss of its “dean,” longtime political journalist and mentor to so many, Charles S. Johnson, known as Chuck. Phil Drake and Tom Kuglin’s piece about Chuck in the Helena Independent Record and Corin Cates-Carney’s rememberance on Montana Public Radio are two of the best stories to help understand just how much Chuck meant to journalism in Montana and the state as a whole.

2. Glacier Park’s Advanced Reservations Continue to Sell Out Fast Ahead of Summer (Tristan Scott / Flathead Beacon)

J-School grad Tristan Scott (’13) reports on Glacier National Park’s reservation system that is meant to “manage high traffic volumes and protect natural resources.” Scott gets to the who, what, when, where, and why of the controversial system, which some locals, tourists and politicians believe is too difficult to navigate and reserve time in the park.

3. Budget bills await governor’s signature; Lawmakers look to weaken the judiciary (Sally Mauk, Holly Michels and Rob Saldin / Montana Public Radio)

Montana legislators are also midway through the legislative session. Sally Mauk, J-School grad Holly Michels (’08), and Rob Saldin host ‘Capitol Talk’ on Montana Public Radio, a news podcast that provides all the necessary recent political news.

4. TWQ Mini with Kathryn Aalto: The lives, literature, and landscapes of twenty-five female nature writers (Lauren Korn / Montana Public Radio)

If you’re already up to date on Montana politics, MTPR also offers podcasts and news clips on arts, culture, nature…you name it. Lauren Korn hosts ‘The Write Question,’ a podcast where she speaks with authors about their recent works. This week, Korn interviews Katheryn Aalto, author of Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World. The two discuss what “wild” really means.

5. Bison resolution stirs debate about Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (Brett French / Billings Gazette)

J-School grad Brett French (’88) shares news about Senate Joint Resolution 14, introduced by Republican Sen. Mike Lang. French writes (and quotes the lawmaker): “The resolution argues reintroducing bison to the 1.1 million acres in Eastern Montana would ‘jeopardize critical grazing land for livestock, greatly increase the threat of disease transmission between livestock and wildlife, threaten the livelihoods of ranching families, and impair the State of Montana’s management of state trust land.'”

6. The 90-food sentinel of Butte, Montana (Leah Sottile / High Country News)

Have you ever noticed the glowing statute that rises above Butte, Montana? Named ‘Our Lady of the Rockies,’ Sottile, a former T. Anthony Pollner Professor at the J-School, writes about its history and what it stands for.

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. The odd phenomenon of moth-eating bears—and the dangers they face (Story by Douglas Main, Pictures by Steven Gnam / National Geographic)

Main and Gnam journeyed into peak bear territory in Glacier National Park to share the curious connection between grizzlies and cutworm moths. Up-close photos of both creatures accompany the story.

2. Environmental Auditors Approve Green Labels for Products Linked to Deforestation and Authoritarian Regimes (Scilla Alecci / Inside Climate News)

“A new ICIJ-led cross-border investigation exposes how a lightly regulated sustainability industry overlooks forest destruction and human rights violations when granting environmental certifications,” writes Alecci.

ICIJ stands for The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Inc., a group of hundreds of investigative journalists and media organizations who seek to expose crime and corruption internationally. Alecci’s story for Inside Climate News summarizes the ICIJ investigation and shows what investigative journalism can uncover.

3. Nature, as captured by some of the world’s best photographers (Washington Post Staff / The Washington Post)

Need a midterms de-stressor? Take a look at the stunning nature photos from the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards finalists.

Top Student/Alumni Story

1. Schools Struggle With Lead in Water While Awaiting Federal Relief (Katheryn Houghton / Kaiser Health News)

UM J-School grad (’15) Katheryn Houghton reports from Philipsburg, Montana, where many public schools found lead in drinking water at unsafe levels. A result of old lead pipe infrastructure, similar issues across the U.S. are being targeted in new infrastructure budgeting under the Biden administration. Beginning in the small Montana town, Houghton expands the scope of her story outwards to all of Montana and then nationwide before rounding back to the same opening storyline.

Good Work Wednesday: March 1, 2023

By Sage Sutcliffe

Top Montana News Stories

1. Cooperative Decomposition: Recycling In Its Truest Form (Annie Mealey / Field Notes – Montana Natural History Center)

Originally broadcast in March of 2022, this Field Notes piece for the Montana Natural History Center aired again this week on MTPR. Written in the Field Notes Writing Workshop, the piece is beautifully detailed, although the mental images of insect-ridden, bloated, decomposing animals may not be.

The author writes: “Next time you are out hiking and come across a dead animal, think about the cooperation needed to decompose the body, and how that animal’s death benefits countless other organisms. Nature has so much to teach us.”

2. BLM explores utility-scale solar in Montana (Amanda Eggert / Montana Free Press)

J-School alumna Amanda Eggert (’09) reports on the possibility for some of Montana’s eight million acres of BLM land to be developed for large solar projects. The project has sparked controversy among Montanans with competing ideas of how BLM land should be utilized.

3. Bill banning vaccinated blood donations would ‘decimate’ blood supply, opponents say (Nicole Girten / Daily Montanan)

“House Bill 645 would ban individuals who received the COVID-19 vaccine from donating blood, making it a misdemeanor with a $500 fine to donate or accept blood from vaccinated donors,” writes Girten. It’s a heavy topic, but Girten weaves the story (and, you guessed it: conflicting viewpoints) together for an easy read.

4. ‘Buffalo take care of us’: First Blackfeet buffalo hunt open to all was a success (Nora Mabie / Lee Enterprises)

Indigenous communities reporter Nora Mabie reports on a bison hunt raffle led by the Blackfeet Nation and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“…The hunt represented new efforts to build trust with outside communities and organizations. It symbolized a new phase in the tribe’s bison management strategy and, above all, it affirmed the ways in which bison continue to help Native communities thrive,” writes Mabie.

Accompanying photos by J-School grad Thom Bridge illustrate the first raffle winner’s bison harvesting process.

Top Environment and Science News Stories

1. Chemical Concerns of the Ohio Train Disaster (Bobby Bascomb / Living on Earth)

The toxic train derailment that turned East Palestine, Ohio into an environmental disaster zone is still making headlines weeks later. To get the story, Bascomb speaks with an Ohioan reporter with Ideastream Public Media regarding the present and future impacts to East Palestinians and nearby residents. Bascomb also reached out to the train company at fault, Norfolk Southern, and a local resident for their comments.

2. Your Brain Could Be Controlling How Sick You Get—And How You Recover (Diana Kwon / Nature Magazine)

Diana Kwon’s lede makes this science-heavy story sound intriguing from the get-go: “Hundreds of scientists around the world are looking for ways to treat heart attacks. But few started where Hedva Haykin has: in the brain.”

Informed by science, the intrigue continues throughout Kwon’s carefully narrated story, which alludes to the possibility that optimism may keep you healthier.

Top Student/Alumni Story

1. UM student’s wolf parasite study getting national attention (Najifa Farhat / Montana Kaimin)

Before moving to the U.S. last August, Najifa Farhat worked as a journalist for two years on the environment and climate change beat in her home country of Bangladesh. She will graduate from UM’s environmental journalism master’s program in ’24. In her piece for the Montana Kaimin, Farhat interviews another UM student, whose research on wolves recently made national news.

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.