Stories are at the heart of everything senior Skylar Rispens does. And, she does it all.
Photo. Web editing and design. Writing. Social media.
You name it, she does it well.
Skylar says according to her parents, she’s been passionate about telling stories even before she could talk.
She graduated from Helena High School and set out to study journalism at UM. She says she shaped her course work to dig into photography and writing. But, she’s also been the multimedia producer for the Montana Native News Project and during her trip to Korea this last spring with Montana Journalism Abroad, she was the web content editor as well as a photographer.
This fall, she’s the photo editor of the new iteration of the Montana Journalism Review project.
Skylar writes, “With the guidance of the professors and variety of class options at the School of Journalism I have gained unparalleled reporting experience that has shaped me into a confident and eager reporter.”
This summer, she spent 10 weeks as an intern in Butte, reporting for the Montana Standard. There, she covered stories like the annual Montana Folk Festival to following an infrastructure bond proposal from committee to school board approval.
Her favorite assignment at the Standard was a world-class mountain bike race. She not only reported on the race, but documented it with incredible photo work too.
In May 2017, a group of Montana Journalism Abroad (MTJA) students will travel to Japan and report on the issues that continue to affect people displaced by a trio of disasters that struck the northeast part of the country in 2011. On March 11 of that year, a severe earthquake triggered a tsunami that decimated coastal towns, and damage from the wave led to the meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The nuclear fallout forced citizens to drop everything and leave their homes behind. After five years of clean-up efforts, the government has started to encourage people to return to their homes, but many people remain fearful of lingering radiation.
During their trip, the students will tour the affected areas, interview citizens and government officials, and then produce a multimedia package that tells the stories of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. These stories of displacement will resonate with Montanans who are no stranger to natural and industrial disasters, such as wildfires and leaking mine waste. As the group prepares for the trip, they are raising public awareness of the ongoing challenges of Fukushima residents.
With the screening of the documentary “Alone in Fukushima,” students invite the Missoula community to take a closer look at life inside the red zone. Just seven miles away from the nuclear power plant, Naoto Matsumura is the only person left in town. He risks the radiation to look after the domesticated animals that families left behind. Japanese filmmaker Mayu Nakamura follows Matsumura on his quest to care for the creatures and save them from starvation.
This Thursday, November 17, join the students of MTJA as they screen “Alone in Fukushima” at 6:30 p.m. in room 210 of the J-School. After the film, the director will skype in from Japan for a Q&A session. Admittance is free, but any donations are welcome and will help reduce travel costs.