MISSOULA – Two University of Montana School of Journalism students are providing coverage of the 67th Montana Legislature to scores of news organizations across the state as part of the UM Legislative News Service.
The service, which distributes the student-produced coverage to more than 200 editors, publishers, producers, directors and reporters, has provided coverage to Montana news organizations since 1993.
UM School of Journalism Director Denise Dowling calls the project “an incredible service to the people of Montana and an incomparable learning experience for our young reporters.”
James Bradley and Austin Amestoy are the reporters covering this session, with direction and editing from UM Adjunct Professor Courtney Lowery Cowgill.
Bradley, the news service’s audio reporter, is a senior and has been interested in politics since he was a kid growing up in rural Colorado. Outside of journalism, he is involved in the UM's Esports program as a broadcaster, analyst and athlete.
Amestoy is a third-year student and the print reporter for the UM Legislative News Service. Amestoy was born in Billings and raised in Laurel, where he graduated as a proud Locomotive in 2018. Recently, he wrote as an arts and culture reporter for UM’s independent student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, and enjoys working as a production assistant at KTVQ News in Billings.
“These students witness the inner workings of our lawmaking process and rely heavily on the seasoned journalists they work alongside at the Capitol to make sense of it all,” Dowling said. “We could not make this happen without the dedication and expertise of the School of Journalism faculty and the financial support of our sponsors.”
The school’s partners in the program include the Greater Montana Foundation, the Montana Broadcasters Association and Montana Newspaper Association.
“The UM Legislative News Service provides bread and butter coverage of the state Legislature for virtually every community newspaper in Montana,” said Matt Gibson, the executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association. “The reporters do solid work that connects folks from Eureka to Ekalaka to their representatives in Helena.”
Dewey Bruce, the president and CEO of the Montana Broadcasters Association, said the UM service plays an important role in getting news from the Capitol to communities across the state.
“We support the Legislative News Service because it provides our members daily reports on what’s going on at the Montana Legislature who don’t have the ability to have a reporter in Helena,” Bruce said.
Ron Davis, chair of the Greater Montana Foundation, echoed Bruce and Gibson’s comments and said the foundation is proud of the long relationship with the Legislative News Service.
“The founder of the Greater Montana Foundation, Edward B. Craney, had one main desire for the foundation: to provide high-quality professional broadcast news and information to the people of our vast and sparsely populated state,” Davis said. “The Legislative News Service, since its inception, has created a standard of excellence that has fulfilled Mr. Craney's desire while providing the people of Montana a valuable service."
The service files new daily audio and web reports every weekday between 4 and 5 p.m., and it files weekly print and web features and roundups by Sunday of each week.
An archive of the reports, including daily audio reports and weekly print and web coverage, as well as photos, is available online. The students’ published work is curated here: https://wakelet.com/@umlegnews.
News organizations that are also MBA and MNA members and wish to receive the reports can sign up for the email list.
Contact: Courtney Lowery Cowgill, director of media and engagement, adjunct professor and editor of the UM Legislative News Service, 406-214-0164, firstname.lastname@example.org.