Kalispell’s Kyle Schmauch, a broadcast journalism student at the University of Montana, tackled the contentious topic of wolves with a fellow classmate for a national television news contest. The result, a three-minute segment presenting opposing sides of the debate, has landed the university students in New York City this week, winners of the Fox News College Challenge.
Schmauch and Alex Schwier will appear on live television on Fox News Friday morning at about 6:50 a.m. As winners of the national contest, Schmauch and Schwier will split a $10,000 cash prize, receive an all-expenses paid trip to New York and interview for a possible internship. The University of Montana School of Journalism also receives a $10,000 grant from Fox News.
Schmauch, a 2010 Glacier High School graduate, got his start in broadcast journalism at the high school’s daily news program. He’s a double major in journalism and political science at UM. Though both he and Schwier are only in their second year of college, they’ve both already compiled enough credits to be considered seniors, which is how they were eligible to compete in the contest.
Fox News had recommended a number of controversial topics for students in the contest, like medical marijuana. But Schmauch wanted to produce something unique.
“I’m a huge hunter and really active in the outdoors, so the wolf controversy sounded like a good one,” Schmauch said. “It’s kind of a local issue but it has started to grow into a national issue.”
Schwier came up with the idea to personalize and localize the broad topic, Schmauch said.
“We thought it would be good to put it in perspective: Why is this an issue?” he said. “How do we succinctly convey why it matters to people? What makes it so controversial on the local level? We were trying to make sure to get all sides and not give one side too much time or don’t try to spin it your own way. It’s tough to do with a controversial issue like that.”
The UM students interviewed a rancher in Sula who recently had livestock killed by a wolf; a local advocate who organizes outreach groups and meetings with opposing sides; and Randy Newberg, a Bozeman hunter and conservationist who hosts a popular television show on the Outdoor Channel.
Schmauch and Schwier spent most of their winter break developing the news story, titled “Searching for middle ground: Montana’s wolf controversy.” It can be seen below, or online at http://vimeo.com/36581236.
UPDATE (4/27): Fox News passed along a video of Schmauch’s Friday morning appearance: