MISSOULA – ICT News opened its new Mountain Bureau in the University of Montana’s Don Anderson Hall, bringing a bureau chief, education reporter and interns to the UM School of Journalism. ICT News (formerly Indian Country Today) worked with campus leadership to launch the collaboration in the spring of 2023.
School of Journalism graduate Kolby Kickingwoman, Blackfeet, is the bureau chief, bringing coverage of Indigenous issues in Montana, the Dakotas, the Inland Northwest and southern Canada to readers and viewers of ICT News.
Alumna Renata Birkenbuel, Montana Little Shell, is ICT’s national education correspondent and also is based in Missoula. J-School Associate Professor Jason Begay, Navajo, is ICT’s national editor and was instrumental in creating the partnership.
“The University of Montana has strived to increase both the amount and quality of Indigenous coverage with its Native News program for three decades,” said Begay. “ICT has the same mission but for tribes across the country. Together, we can make a huge difference, regionally and nationally.”
Broadcast Professor Denise Dowling has carved out a role for her television news reporting students in the spring of 2024. Students will produce television reports from the ICT Mountain Bureau for inclusion in ICT’s national television newscast. The newscast is produced from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism with a professional slate of reporters, producers and anchors.
“I’m excited to collaborate with Denise and UM students in this effort,” said ICT Television News Executive Producer Ebonye Delaney. “We think the students will make a strong contribution to our coverage and expect they will learn a lot about reporting on Indigenous issues.”
ICT is headquartered in Phoenix and has existing bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Alaska. The Mountain Bureau is the first in an ambitious expansion plan.
“A huge part of our vision for the bureaus is to provide journalism students with internship opportunities,” said Karen Michel, CEO of IndiJ Public Media (the parent company of ICT News). “We are fortunate to be working with the University of Montana on this important effort.”
ICT leadership plans to expand to nine total bureaus in the years ahead with the help of a grant from the American Journalism Project.