Montana Students Win RFK Journalism Award

By: (AP) A group of journalism students at the University of Montana is among winners of the 2005 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for a series examining sovereignty on American Indian reservations in Montana.

The award for the best college print project was among those announced Monday by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.

The series was prepared last year through an annual School of Journalism program that sends print and photography students to all seven reservations in the state to examine a specific issue and tell seven different stories "through the eyes of the people affected," said journalism professor Carol Van Valkenburg.

The result, a newspaper insert titled "Sovereignty," was distributed in three of Montana's largest daily newspapers and was sent to elected officials around the state, Van Valkenburg said. The Tribune carried the "Sovereignty" insert.

Sixteen students took part last year, Van Valkenburg said. Funding came from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and from the journalism school.

"When we started this 15 years ago, most students wouldn't have known if you asked them that there were seven reservations in the state," Van Valkenburg said Monday. "We wanted them to go out and do a better job of covering Indian issues than what we thought was being done in the state of Montana."

According to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial's Web site, the journalism awards were founded in 1968 by a group of journalists and are intended to honor outstanding reporting of issues important to the late senator, including those affecting the poor and minorities.

"This is a very big deal for us," Van Valkenburg said. "It's a great award, in part for who it honors and for what it honors -- for reporting that pays attention to people who often aren't written about."


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