MJR 2017 publishes “Far From Comfort” edition

MJR staff members pose with the newest edition of the magazine.
MJR staff members pose with the newest edition of the magazine.

The new edition of Montana Journalism Review tracks Western journalists as national and global events push them past their comfort zones.

From local coverage of refugee resettlement to an experiment in right-wing news immersion, the 2017 issue of MJR scrutinizes how news professionals are responding to growing distrust in the media and ongoing changes in the industry.

Titled “Far From Comfort,” the magazine examines advocacy journalism, emerging business models and gender gaps in sports coverage and news management.

“With the proliferation of fake news and echo chambers, we worked hard to find stories that advance the conversation and show the state of the media in the western United States,” Managing Editor Claire Chandler said.

Work on the 46th edition began last spring, when Editor-in-Chief Henriette Lowisch and Executive Editor Keith Graham, both journalism professors, selected the student staff that puts together the annual magazine founded by J-School Dean Nathaniel Blumberg in 1958.

Over the following seven months, student editors, writers, photographers and designers learned how to problem-solve and work together as they brainstormed story ideas and headlines, recruited contributors, sold ads and got the 68-page book ready for print.

While Art Director Delaney Kutsal envisioned the magazine’s design elements, from color scheme to formatting, senior editors Diana Six, Katy Spence, Dakota Wharry and Bayley Butler handpicked stories and took them through three rounds of editing. Contributors to MJR 2017 include former Missoulian Editor Sherry Devlin and Wyofile reporter Dustin Bleizeffer as well as J-School alums Evan Frost, Tess Haas, Carli Krueger and Hunter Pauli. Current faculty, graduate and undergraduate students also wrote and photographed stories, including staff writer Maddie Vincent and staff photographer Olivia Vanni.

In October, final drafts were sent off to Copy Chief Taylor Crews, who organized her team for the stringent fact-checking and copy-editing process. Designers got their hands on copy in early November and faced a quick two-week turnaround.

In addition to the print magazine released on Dec. 16, 2016, MJR published its stories on its website at mjr.jour.umt.edu, under the leadership of Web Editor Matt Roberts. It also produced Framing a Movement: The Media at Standing Rock, a web documentary orchestrated by Senior Editor Kathleen Stone and funded with the help of the J-School’s Blumberg Fund for Investigative Journalism and UM President Royce Engstrom.

Montana Journalism Review is the product of a journalism capstone course offered each fall. The magazine is financed through ad sales and support from the School of Journalism. The print edition is sent out to 750 subscribers across Montana, the nation and the world.

UM Journalism Joins New Google News Lab Initiative

Google News Lab text logoThe University of Montana School of Journalism announced Monday that it was joining other top-tier media schools in the launch of a new Google “News Lab University Network” in an effort to better train new and existing journalists in data, search and emerging technologies.

The Network is the latest effort by the School of Journalism to deploy technologies to tell and distribute stories in new ways.

School of Journalism Dean Larry Abramson said the initiative comes in response to student demand, and to changes in the industry. “Our students tell us they want more training in digital tools to make them more competitive when they hit the job market,” Abramson said. “The News Lab partnership will equip the entire school—faculty, students and staff—to stay ahead of changes in the news landscape. The faculty and I are very excited about this opportunity,” said Abramson, who arrived at UM in 2014 after nearly 30 years with NPR in Washington, DC.

Abramson has moved to accelerate changes in the school, bringing in noted media critic and change agent Jay Rosen and establishing the relationship with the Google News Lab.

The new University Network will provide resources and support to the top universities around the world, in exchange for feedback and input to help guide News Lab curriculum and training materials for journalists, professors, and the future journalists of the world.

“Being a part of the Network from the beginning gives us a great opportunity to have access to the latest tools and techniques being developed by the leading technology firm in the world,” said Lee Banville, who teaches web and digital reporting at the school and ran the Online NewsHour for 14 years before coming to Montana. “This will put our digital news reporting projects on par with far larger programs.”

As part of the network, Montana professors will work with Google to develop lessons and test new products in the classroom as well as offer feedback that will help make sure new tools serve a wide array of journalism outlets, including smaller, more rural newsrooms all across Montana.

In the past the J School has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and pioneered work with the Public Insight Network project.  Google News Lab trainer Scott Leadingham visited the J School in October for a daylong workshop on digital tools. In addition to students and J School faculty, working journalists from across Montana attended the training session.

Google started the News Lab in 2015 “to empower innovation at the intersection of technology and media,” according to the company. Google-trained experts collaborate with educators and newsrooms around the world to explore the frontiers of data analysis, mapping and graphics.

The University of Montana School of Journalism launched in 1914, and has trained generations of journalists in print, broadcast, photography and new media. The school is regularly ranked among the top 10 journalism schools in the United States.

The Hard Way Selected as Banff Finalist

photo shows film's subject running down a wooded trail.
The Hard Way was awarded Best Short at the September 2016 Trail Running Film Festival Seattle

The Hard Way Documentary – the inspirational story about 89-year-old ultra runner Bob Hayes, has been selected as a Finalist for the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Competition. In its 41st year, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is one of the most prestigious mountain film festivals in the world. Presented by National Geographic and The North Face, it takes place October 29 – November 6, 2016, at Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

The Hard Way is the inspirational story of Bob Hayes, an 89-year-old who runs 30 races each year, cuts his firewood by hand and does things the hard way to remain active and alive. The film takes us on a journey that’s about more than running, it teaches us to live life with purpose and momentum. Montana independent filmmakers Erik Petersen, of Clyde Park, and Jeremy Lurgio, of Missoula spent more than a year documenting Hayes’ story about remaining active and vital as he approaches 90.

“He lives an authentic, inspirational life, and we were lucky enough to document that,” Petersen said. “Being selected as a finalist to Banff is just icing on the cake.”

“Bob lives the way many of us hope to in our later years. He has a nice balance of hard work, running and being active in the community,” Lurgio said. “He still contra dances, he goes to the library and continues to learn all the time. It’s just really inspiring.”

Erik and Jeremy are traveling up to Banff for the festival this weekend.

The Hard Way will screen November 5 and 6 in Banff, Alberta.

Other scheduled screenings:

  • November 5, 2016 – Missoula, Montana – The Missoula Trail Running Film Festival will feature The Hard Way at The Wilma Theater.
  • If selected for the Banff Official Tour, The Hard Way will play in Missoula at the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Dennison Theater Nov. 13th.

About the Filmmakers: Jeremy Lurgio is a freelance photographer and an associate professor of photojournalism and multimedia at the University of Montana School of Journalism. You can find his work at http://www.jeremylurgio.com

Erik Petersen is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Livingston, Montana. You can find his work at www.erikpetersenphoto.com

By Jeremy Lurgio