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Nora Mabie (MSJ19)

Indigenous Communities Reporter at Great Falls Tribune

Nora Mabie headshot

After graduating from Colby College, Nora Mabie (MSJ19) worked at MK Communications, a communications firm in Chicago. There she wrote press releases and organized community events, but, she says, she always knew she wanted to be on the other side of the news. So in 2018 she enrolled in Medill's master's in journalism program where she specialized in social justice reporting. After graduation, she got a full-time job as the indigenous communities reporter at the Great Falls Tribune in Montana.

What are your main responsibilities in your job?

I cover the seven tribes in Montana, with a special focus on the Blackfeet Nation, Chippewa Cree Tribe and Little Shell Tribe, as they're headquartered near Great Falls. I report breaking news, like when the Blackfeet Nation implemented a mandatory shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I also report enterprise stories, like when I followed a high-school basketball team on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.

How has your Medill training helped you in your career?

I visited the Navajo and Hopi reservations on my Medill Explores reporting trip to Arizona, where I got a taste of reporting on Native American communities. We learned the importance of building trust with sources and that understanding historical trauma is critical to telling stories about tribes today.

What is an experience at Medill that sticks out in your mind?

I really appreciated Medill's exercise in breaking news. While I'm not a breaking news reporter, sometimes things come up and I think back to when my cohort had to practice reporting a fictional hurricane. We raced to send tweets, attend press conferences and meet our deadlines. While it was stressful in the moment, this exercise prepared me well for when the Little Shell Tribe in Montana gained federal recognition after a generations-long fight. It was a historic day, and I'm thankful Medill prepared me for it.

How has the Medill network helped you in your career?

After I accepted my job at the Great Falls Tribune, I reached out to Professor Patty Loew, who took my Medill class on a trip to the Hopi and Navajo reservations. She sent me a ton of reading recommendations so I could learn more about tribes in Montana. She also introduced me to leaders at the Native American Journalists Association, who have been a constant support, as I work to employ thoughtful and inclusive language in my writing.

What advice do you have for someone considering Medill?

Follow your interests and take advantage of the opportunities Medill offers. One of my most valuable experiences at Medill was collaborating with students to help investigative reporter David Jackson with a project. David taught us how to send FOIA requests, and he trusted us to interview sources about sensitive topics. I also enjoyed working closely with Lecturer Kari Lydersen on my master's project. She helped me edit and refine my story; but more importantly, she guided me through the process of writing and reporting an in-depth feature, something I love doing at the Great Falls Tribune today.

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