Journalism on the go at KECI-TV

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If I can only use a short phrase to sum up my experience in KECI, I would definitely recommend the French phrase “C’est la vie,” which means “This is life.” It contained thrilling new challenges and flat daily routine. The reporters with whom I worked met challenges such as stories that fell apart and pressing deadlines, but they all sailed through the impossibles.

One cool experience I had was sitting besides the KEIC anchor Steve Fetveit during the newscast, because the camera couldn’t take me in in terms of angle.

The first day I followed Matt Gray, who works on weather reports on weekends and weather-related news on weekdays. After talking with his supervisors, he decided to do a story on changes in regulations for firefighters, and we went to the Aerial Fire Depot, a facility by the airport that serves people who fight wildfires. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet with any supervisor, and the key man didn’t call us back.

What surprised me most is that when Matt told executive producer Cyndy Koures about the problem, she told him to change the story’s subject immediately instead of chasing his first idea. “Let’s go!” he said as soon as he knew his next subject: a story about skin cancer.

The second day I met a truly kind girl named Andrea Olson, who taught me how to handle pressure. Although we had done two interviews in UM without any problems, and did the editing all afternoon, we still had to hurry to finish the story before the deadline because the story was complicated. We finished just 10 minutes before the show started.

The KECI staffers are all superheroes in my heart because they all do the news alone. That is to say, they have to carry the camera and tripod, drive anywhere, write the script, edit the package, and appear live sometimes for the show. Everything must be done in one day, or to be more precise, in 8 hours, from 9 to 5. That is the job of a journalist in the 21 century.

“You can’t tell your viewers ‘I can’t do it,” because those people depend on you,” Andrea said as she walked me out of the door at the end of my unforgettable job-shadowing. “Keep in mind time management and never be afraid.”

Let the job shadowing begin

Seven SISU students met today with hosts from news organizations around Missoula to begin a two-day stint of job shadowing. Three were matched with TV news departments. Lu Nan is following reporter Brin Merkley at KPAX, while Chen Xiaoying is shadowing in reporter Ashley Sanchez at ABC Fox Montana News. Jiang Yiyun was Executive News Producer Cyndy Koures’ guest at KECI.

The Missoulian is playing host to three students. Zhang Kaiju is following natural resources reporter Rob Chaney.  Chen Yijun is making the rounds with crime beat reporter Kate Haake. Yu Shijie is spending time with photographer Tom Bauer.

Meanwhile, Li Huizhong is tailing Montana Evening Edition anchors Conrad Scheid and Corin-Cates Carney at KUFM.

Two more students will get in on the action Wednesday at the Montana Independent. Lin Li is scheduled to shadow reporter Alex Sakariassen, and Tang Jinglei will follow reporter Jessica Mayrer.

We’re much obliged to all of the hosts for sharing their time and expertise. Thanks!

Covering the environment

Science source

Our students spent the morning with environmental reporter Matthew Frank, who told them about a story he did following the shipment of coal from Montana to China. Frank is the editorial supervisor of Science Source, an grant-funded School of Journalism project that provides coverage about environmental science and natural resource news to newspapers and radio stations in rural areas.

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After that we heard from Jill Alban, the outreach director for the Missoula-based Clark Fork Coalition, a non-government, non-profit environmental organization that works to clean and preserve the watershed of the Clark Fork River drainage. The watershed was once heavily polluted by mining and smelting in the Butte-Anaconda area. The coalition encouraged government agencies to begin the cleanup in 2008.

SISU inspects the public record

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On Friday, the students met at the Missoula County Courthouse to learn about the various public records kept here. Most of the records are open to inspection by the public, including journalists. We examined records of property ownership, which are in kept a massive database. We looked up Professor Swibold’s house, which was built is 1950.

We also looked at voting records. We could see who voted but not how they voted, which is a secret. Such information helps officials and the public ensure that elections are fair. We also examined ballots and learned of new trends in voting, such as voting by mail. All Americans over the age of 18 can vote in local or national elections, provided they have registered. Here’s a link to Montana voting statistics kept by the Montana’s Secretary of State in Helena.

Finally, we examined property tax records. Property taxes are the leading source of money for local governments like school districts, the city and the county. They also help fund state activities such as the Montana University System. The amount of taxes someone pays depends in part on the value of the property, which is constantly changing. The records are public to allow residents to examine the system regularly for accuracy and fairness. Property is revalued for tax purposes every three years.


Happy Birthdays in Montana