|The University of Montana 2005 President's Report|
It took a University of Montana journalism student to get a Montana town to confront racism in its ranks.
Anne E. Pettinger was excited when she and photographer Katie Hartley embarked on a class assignment to Havre and the nearby Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.
For many students, this is the culmination of all the classes they've taken, Pettinger says. Each spring the Native News Honors Project sends 14 students to Montana's seven Indian reservations to work on stories that will be published in special sections in the state's three largest newspapers.
But Pettinger never anticipated what she found blatant racism on the part of some nor was she prepared for the response.
The state's newspapers were quick to report on the reaction from Havre and Rocky Boy's residents. The Denver Post sent a reporter to Havre. Harvard University's Nieman Reports published an article by Pettinger about her assignment, as well as stories by UM Professors Carol Van Valkenburg and Denny McAuliffe. The U.S. Department of Justice sent a federal mediator to town three times to discuss racism with citizens.
"In general, it's helped start a dialogue in the community," Pettinger says.
surprise for a program that has brought home at least two dozen Hearst
Journalism Awards often called the "college Pulitzers" to
UM. The Native News Project, funded primarily by the Knight Foundation,
also won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2004.
Started in 1991, the Native News Project was the brainchild of Van Valkenburg
and two former UM professors.
Today that has changed, and Van Valkenburg believes it's due in part to the Native News Project. But as Anne Pettinger has shown, UM's program can still break stories in Indian Country no one else is getting.
Rita Munzenrider, Director
The University of Montana-Missoula
32 Campus Drive | Missoula, MT 59812
phone (406) 243-2522 | fax (406) 243-4520
© 2006 The University of Montana