Program Description

We all know what the building blocks are to a balanced diet: Fill your plate with mostly protein, veggies and grains. Eat sweets sparingly. As Americans near spending on average more than 7 hours a day on screens, Cowgill encourages us to all approach our media diet in the same way we approach our actual diets, asking, “What if we put as much thought into what we put into our minds as what we put into our mouths?” In this interactive talk on media literacy and journalism, Cowgill helps us evaluate and build our own balance of media consumption, assessing what types of media are packed with education, information, public service and connection, filling us up with “newstrition,” and which ones are the equivalent of gummy bears and cheesy puffs – that is to say, tasty and fine in moderation, but not something you want to consume all day, every day. Cowgill also offers tips and strategies for evaluating news sources with an eye on spotting bias, misinformation and disinformation (and why those are all different), as well as how to find sources that stick to a “meat and potatoes” approach to news coverage.

Presenter Bio

Cowgill is an adjunct professor at the University of Montana’s School of Journalism where she teaches reporting and writing and edits and oversees the Legislative News Service, which provides legislative coverage to scores of newspapers and broadcasters across the state. Before becoming a journalism educator, Cowgill worked as a reporter for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau, training under the late legendary statehouse reporter Charles S. Johnson, then the Associated Press in Helena and Omaha, Nebraska and then as the editor and co-founder of the online regional magazine New West. After that, she spent eight years covering changes in the media industry as the managing editor of PBS MediaShift.

Cowgill also serves on the board of the Red Ants Pants Foundation, which supports women in leadership, family farms and ranches and rural communities. She also co-owns with her baker husband Jacob an on-farm sourdough bakery called Blue Truck Bread. Before that, she and Jacob ran a local vegetable and grain operation on their farm on the Fairfield Bench for more than a decade.


Courtney Cowgill
Visiting professor of Journalism, University of Montana
(406) 531-4794