MISSOULA – The University of Montana School of Journalism has awarded fellowships to two student-mentor teams that will work to tell richer stories about climate change, communities and conservation in the Glacier National Park area of Montana and Canada, known as the Crown of the Continent.
The 2018 Crown Reporting Fellows are Breanna Roy and Samantha Weber, both graduate students in the master’s program in environmental science and natural resource journalism. Photographer and former National Geographic editor-in-chief Chris Johns will mentor Roy. Graham Lee Brewer, an Oklahoma-based reporter specializing in Native American issues, will mentor Weber.
The process of choosing fellows begins with a community dinner each winter that brings scientists, journalists, nonprofit leaders and journalism students together to discuss emerging issues that are critical to the Crown region.
“The Crown Reporting Project gives our students the chance to learn while doing under the guidance of extraordinary professionals in one of the great landscapes of North America,” said Associate Professor Nadia White, journalism graduate program director.
Students pitch story ideas in a competition for the annual fellowship. Each team will explore stories related to different communities in the Crown of the Continent. Stories are published or printed in a commercial news outlet by December each year.
Weber’s print piece will consider efforts by the Blackfeet Nation to harness a surge in eco-tourism. Challenges and opportunities that are unique to Native communities are often left out of stories about the economy, Weber said.
“The generous timeline allowed by the Crown Reporting Fund gives me sufficient time to ensure I cover this story thoroughly,” Weber said. “This is not a job for parachute journalism.”
Roy’s video short will focus on a unique subgroup of pine trees that may prove resistant to climate-change-related threats to the alpine ecosystems of northern Montana and southern Canada.
“This is an incredible opportunity to tell an important environmental story,” Roy said. “The fellowship will allow me to dive deep into a scientific discovery at the microscopic level and interpret what it could mean for endangered trees in the Crown and beyond.”
The Crown Reporting Project is a donor-supported opportunity in partnership with High Country News. It is inspired by the work and memory of philanthropist Ted Smith, who felt stories about communities and conservation across Montana’s large landscapes would improve the way people manage and engage with the state’s wildest places.