UM Journalism Students to Provide 2015 Legislative News Service

December 18, 2014

Michael WrightHELENA – Two students from the University of Montana School of Journalism have been chosen to provide news coverage of the Montana Legislature for newspapers and radio stations across the state. The session begins Jan. 5.

Michael Wright, a senior, will provide weekly coverage for interested newspapers across the state. Wright hails from a dairy farm in southern Idaho and has written for the Montana Kaimin, Big Timber Pioneer and Montana Journalism Review. The Montana Newspaper Association helps fund Wright’s coverage.

Madelyn Beck, who has worked with Montana Public Radio, ‘In Other Words’ and Public Radio Exchange will provide daily reports to more than 50 Montana broadcasters. Beck came to the University from a ranch near Manhattan. Her coverage is made possible by grants from the Greater Montana Foundation and the Montana Broadcasters Association.

The students’ work this session will be supervised by UM Adjunct Professor Courtney Lowery Cowgill, a former Associated Press reporter and editor and the current managing editor of the online news site PBS MediaShift. The 2015 session marks the 12th time journalism students have covered Montana’s regular biennial legislative sessions for newspapers and the fifth time they have provided coverage for radio stations.

Madelyn Beck

Boulder Monitor Editor Jan Anderson said while community newspapers like hers can get out to Helena to cover the legislature occasionally, only a reporter covering the Capitol day-in and day-out can fully cover the complexity of the issues playing out there. That’s where the UM students come in.

“The best way for our readers to know how well the state lawmakers they elected are representing their interests is to have a reporter at the Capitol watching,” Anderson said. “The UM Legislative News Service allows us to help our readers keep track of the issues that have local implications.”

Peter Christian of KGVO Radio in Missoula said the student radio reports are an integral part of his station’s daily news offerings.

“Here at KGVO, we deeply appreciate the UM legislative updates for use in our morning news show, ‘Montana Morning,’” he said. “They are concise, fair and balanced, and well-produced.”

It’s also invaluable experience for the students, said School of Journalism Associate Professor Denise Dowling.

“This project is a win-win for citizens of Montana and our journalism students,” Dowling said. “The people of the state get coverage of the goings-on at the Legislature – coverage they would otherwise not receive. Students gain excellent experience covering Montana’s legislative body and producing professional work for media outlets under deadline.”

Newspapers or radio stations interested in receiving the coverage are encouraged to call Cowgill at 406-531-4794 or email 

courtney.cowgill@umontana.edu.

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Contact: Courtney Cowgill, UM School of Journalism adjunct professor, 406-531-4794, courtney.cowgill@umontana.edu.