Heart Butte student reporters document solar project

In Heart Butte, Montana, students reported on news unfolding right in their backyard using skills they learned at a News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop. Construction crews were installing a new solar array that would supply energy for the school and for community members. Students made a radio feature that included the sound of construction equipment and wind whistling across the hills surrounding the school.

Listen here:

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Young Polson filmmakers investigate the Flathead Monster

Middle school students in Polson spent the week of their News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop gathering stories about the Flathead Lake monster for a video story. An elder shared the Kootenai story of a lake monster creating Flathead lake.  The students visited a judge who believed he saw a monster in the lake. A museum director shared her theory that the monster was actually an ancient fish. A biologist applied his knowledge to the idea of a lake monster.

Watch the video below.

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Hays-Lodgepole students report on Native language textbook

Students at Hays Lodgepole school spent a week this summer navigating fact and fiction on the internet and creating an audio story about a new Nakoda language textbook at a News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop. 

Students interviewed the school principal, the illustrator of the book, and their peers. The Nakoda language was once forbidden in schools. Their story captures the joy the community felt when about the opportunity to incorporate the language into the public school curriculum.

Listen to their story below.

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Box Elder students produce videos about community happenings

Box Elder High School hosted the first Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital Storytelling workshop of the summer.

Box Elder students made two videos about their community. One focused on the new school garden—Bear Nation Garden. They got footage of the garden intern planting seedlings and pulling weeds. Their reporting took them to the local convenience store, the school cafeteria, and the Rocky Boy Health Center. Watch the video here:

Other students pursued a story about the role basketball plays in the Box Elder community. They interviewed basketball star and Box Elder graduate Brandon The Boy. Student reporters shot footage of kids playing basketball on the playground. 

A Box Elder student created a digital image for the opening page of the garden video. Another composed the music featured in the videos. 

Watch the video here:

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Summer 2021 news literacy and digital storytelling workshops

In June 2021 the Montana Media Lab hit the road for a series of news literacy and digital storytelling workshops at schools in rural Montana. Teens in Box Elder, Hays-Lodgepole, Polson, and Heart Butte participated. Students at each school told stories about their communities using audio and video skills they learned. Along the way they mastered strategies for identifying disinformation and misinformation on the internet. 

Student instructor Hunter Wiggins made a video about the experience. Watch here:

Students used smartphones and iPads to fact check outlandish claims in popular social media posts. They learned how to determine whether a website was trustworthy by laterally reading and checking out the source’s URL. 

Students were involved in every facet of producing digital stories. They came up with narrative arcs, decided on interview questions, operated the microphones and cameras, and edited final versions of the stories.

Students instructor Dante Filpula Ankney created this audio story about the summer program. Listen here:

By Dante Filpula Ankney

Do you know a Montana school we should visit for a workshop in the future? Contact us here.

Montana Nonprofit Association 2020 Annual Conference

The Montana Media Lab presented two talks at the annual Montana Nonprofit Association virtual conference in September 2020.

Talking to the Media

Long-time journalists Courtney Lowery-Cowgill and Anne Bailey from the UM School of Journalism discussed practical tips for conveying stories effectively to the media. Participants learned best ways to contact journalists, what to do when a reporter calls for an interview and what information television, radio and newspaper journalists need to tell compelling stories. Through practice and feedback, participants gained confidence in being interviewed, both on and off camera.

Using Social Media for Good, and Strategically

Participants learned how to better plan, organize and execute a social media strategy that reflects their organization’s mission and culture and keeps their audience engaged and informed. Attendees refined their organization’s social media strategy to focus on authenticity and impact, learned to use social media for connection instead of just marketing, and explored new tools to help streamline their social media strategy.

Check out the session recording:

National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program

The Montana Media Lab has teamed up with The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program at the University of Montana to create video content that targets STEM-focused students, faculty and departments on campus.

The I-Corps program aims to accelerate the commercialization of research and innovative ideas in STEM fields by helping researchers and innovators identify target markets, conduct market research and evaluate market readiness.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Big Sky High School

In the fall of 2019, the Montana Media Lab teamed up with Big Sky High School students and PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs to tell video stories about everything from climate change to teen pregnancy.

University of Montana School of Journalism students helped teach story development, interviewing, filming and script writing.

Interested in having the Montana Media Lab work with your school on a storytelling project? Get in touch!

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

For ten days each February, filmmakers and doc film enthusiasts from around the world gather in Missoula for the chance to see some of the more than 150 films that make up the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF).

When not watching films, attendees often participate in DocShop, a week-long program featuring panels, workshops, and presentations for students and media makers.

We’re honored to team up with BSDFF each year to co-host DocShop panels that connect our students and community members with industry experts. Check out our ongoing collaboration with DocShop below.

2020: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Presents “Paradise Without People”

For the 17th annual BSDFF DocShop, the Montana Media Lab hosted TIME Studios filmmaker Francesca Trianni for a conversation about her film Paradise Without People.

2019: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Filmmakers Forum

For the 16th annual BSDFF DocShop, the Montana Media Lab co-hosted multiple panels with experts from across the country. From “Audio to Visual: Taking Podcasts to the Screen” to “The Art of Sound in Documentaries,” filmmakers learned from the best in the industry.

StoryCorps’ One Small Step Project

It’s no secret that politics in the U.S. has become increasingly polarized in recent years. We see it in our social media feeds; we read it in the news; we hear it in conversations with our colleagues and neighbors. For many of us, it’s as if party lines have turned into walls we can’t see over or around.

In December 2019, the Montana Media Lab teamed up with StoryCorps’ One Small Step project to help bridge the political divide here in Montana. We invited Montanas with opposing political views to sit down with each other for a 40-minute, recorded conversation.

The goal? To get beyond political stereotypes and recognize our shared humanity. To stop debating and start listening. To realize, at the end of the day, that we might have more in common than we think.

The following One Small Step conversations were recorded in Missoula, Mont. in December 2019.

“I voted for Trump, and I’m not ashamed of that.” — Jason Ellsworth

Jason Ellsworth (Republican State Senator representing Montana’s Bitterroot Valley) and Susie Orr (executive board member for the Missoula County Democrats) discuss how they came to hold their current political views and share their hopes and fears for the future. Listen here.

“I’m most fearful that we’re losing the ability to have compassion for each other.” — Rachel Gooen

Lisa Velk-Buseman, a fiscally-conservative, fourth-generation Montana, says Missoula has changed dramatically over the years, and not always for the better. Rachel Gooen, a Montana transplant with a social justice background, sees those changes differently. Listen here.

“We both really want to look at where the problems are… and try to do something about it to get to a better place.” — Ethan Holmes

Jessica Mayrer, LGBTQ community member and self-described liberal, Missoula liberal and member of the LGBTQ community and Libertarian Ethan Holmes discuss the environment, the 2020 elections and the concept of “anarcho-altruism.” Listen here.

“[Republicans] are not all the same, and I’d like people to know that… and I assume the same for the left.” — Jack Meyer

College Republicans Vice-President Jack Meyer and self-described liberal Ashli Jaschke (both UM students) talk about everything from prison reform to political stereotypes. Listen here.

“I used to think, ‘You can’t be a Christian and a Democrat,’ but I have changed.” — Rebecca Miller

Bigfork resident Rebecca Miller and University of Montana student Cassidy Martinez talk about religion, sexuality and how their political views have evolved over the years. Listen here.