The University Center Theater was standing-room only by the time writer, reporter, podcaster and this fall’s T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor Leah Sottile took the stage Monday to deliver the annual Pollner lecture for the School of Journalism.
It’s no surprise why. Sottile is a thoughtful reporter, dynamic storyteller and a savvy business woman with valuable insight to share with the J-School students she’s teaching and mentoring this fall and with the greater Montana journalism community. Her most well-known podcast, “Bundyville,” made in collaboration with Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting, is now reaching 3 million listeners.
“… She digs and understands how to get information. And she’s amazing at translating really complicated events and movements to all of us. She’s also fair and accurate and has a great voice. It’s a big deal in podcasting, and we’re super thrilled to have her teaching here.”
If you missed Sottile’s lecture on Monday, never fear. You can watch the whole thing here:
We are gearing up for another great year at the J-School.
Classes start Aug. 27, but that’s not the only way to get the semester kicked off. Here are a few opportunities to get to know the J-School as you get started.
J-School Open House
Don Anderson Hall
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 10 a.m. – Noon
Come visit the school, meet some of your professors and see where you’ll be making all the media magic happen while you’re here.
Don Anderson Hall
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 5:30 p.m.
We’ll celebrate the convocation of the academic year with the whole UM campus, but we also have a special kick-off at the J-School, which we call “J-Con.” At J-Con, you’ll get a chance to use the equipment and studios and get to know your classmates and work on projects with your professors. Plus: Free food!
If you’re just starting in the program, we asked alums and professionals via Facebook to offer some advice on how to make the best of your time here.
Here are a few highlights of what they said:
“Competitive doesn’t have to mean cutthroat. Many of the most effective and successful journalists are also the kindest. Be genuine, be thoughtful, and it will take you places personally and professionally.” -Tracy Johnke
“A story becomes even better once you bounce ideas off of fellow reporters. They can help you see the story completely different. But don’t forget to have fun and take time to relax.” -Ashley Roness, Miles City Star
“The best writing is rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting.” -Shane Bishop, Dateline
“There are so many opportunities inside the J school and in Missoula. Take a gamble or two, it might change your life!” -Ethaniel Fitzgerald, Multimedia Journalist at WDTN-TV
“Take advantage of office hours. A whole lot of stuff is going to be thrown at you and it’s ok if you need help going over some of it.” -Tasha Cain, 10News WTSP
there are lots of jobs in journalism other than “reporter”
Graduates of the University of Montana School of Journalism go on to do great things, in journalism and beyond. They direct newsrooms, report on international issues, photograph history, inform the public on air, start their own businesses, influence public policy, publish books and become leaders in their communities. Here, we spotlight some of our alumni who showcase just how powerful, and versatile, a journalism degree from UM can be. (If you are a graduate who would like to share your experience or know of someone we should spotlight, email Courtney Cowgill.)
This installment spotlights Meg Oliver, ’93, who works as a News Correspondent at CBS.
Question: Where do you work, how long have you been there and what is your job title?
Answer: I’m a CBS News Correspondent. I report for CBS This Morning, The CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning Saturday, CBS Sunday Morning, and I anchor for their digital network CBSN.
I started at CBS News in 2006.
Was this the type of work you thought you’d be doing when you went to school? Share any details you’d like on your work trajectory?
I started out as a “one man band” in Missoula and over the course of a few years made my way up through local TV markets. It wasn’t until I was in Washington D.C. that the network called and offered me the overnight anchor of Up To The Minute at CBS News. Today as a correspondent, I cover practically every major breaking story.
Can you describe an average day on the job?
There is no average day on the job for me. I never know what I”m going to end up covering. To give you an idea the last year has included the London Bridge terror attack, two hurricanes back to back with one day off in between, the Texas Church shooting, two terror attacks in New York and multiple feature and enterprise stories.
What experiences at the J-School were notable in preparing you for your work?
The best thing about the UM J-school training was that it was hands on! Everything we did in the classroom we used in the field. When I looked around for Journalism schools UM stood out to me for their hands on approach and the amazing professors they had on hand.
What do you think makes the J-School special? Do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at the J-School?
The J-school is a hidden gem in the rockies. I was lucky to find it when I was looking for schools. There is nothing like being inspired by the mountains and having some of the best professors in the business teach you how to write, shoot and edit.
What advice would you give a student just starting out in journalism school? Or, what advice would you give to someone considering journalism school?
… It’s an ever changing field. I would soak up as much wisdom as your professors have to offer you. But remember to keep up with the changing social media platforms …