Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism chose Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney as one of 27 journalists for its 2020 class of Nieman Fellows.
He joins a group of local reporters, foreign correspondents, editors, a photographer, television producers, newsroom executives and others from nine U.S. states and a dozen other nations. They will begin two semesters of study at Harvard University in the fall of 2019.
Chaney is one of several Montanans to receive the fellowship since it started in 1938, following Dale Burk and Jodi Rave of the Missoulian, and Bert Lindler and Carol Bradley of the Great Falls Tribune.
“This reflects the benefit of working in a newsroom with a tradition of great story-telling, gripping photography and watchdog vigilance,” Chaney said. “And it’s a chance to learn from others who want to keep American journalism both viable and lively. Following in the path of friends like Dale, Bert and Jodi is a true accolade.”
Chaney grew up in Missoula performing children’s magic shows, painting houses and leading boat tours in Glacier National Park before taking up journalism in 1987.
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He started his reporting career as a night cops-and-courts intern at the Missoulian and went on to write and photograph at the Hungry Horse News, Bozeman Daily Chronicle and as a freelance magazine writer before returning to his hometown newspaper full time in 1997.
Over the last three decades, he’s held every beat at the newspaper, including a solo stint as the Missoulian’s first all-digital reporter. In that time, he’s shown Missoulian readers Montana connections to stories in Nepal, Brazil and China, and won national awards for examinations of the state’s timber industry, Indian Education for All, and Buddhist community expansion.
He currently covers natural resources, the outdoors and science, and is writing a book on the future of grizzly bear recovery for the University of Washington Press.
At Harvard, Chaney will study how environmental attitudes differ between rural and metropolitan parts of the United States, and how that plays out in national political struggles over public land use and endangered species management.