The Choteau Acantha is a weekly paper based in Choteau, Montana, serving a county of roughly 1,700 residents. As part of a SJN-led collaboration between 11 western Montana newspapers plus Montana PBS, the Acantha has participated in the "Montana Gap" project, which published its first package on rural economic sustainability in January 2018. That work has been complemented by audience engagement efforts including listening sessions and post-publication community discussions across the state.
In February 2018, the Acantha organized a community forum focused on residents aged 25 to 44, the demographic group that has left Choteau in the greatest numbers over the past 15 years. Though this was the first community engagement activity she had ever done, Editor Melody Martinsen has been actively engaged in civic life and views the Acantha as playing an important role in finding solutions to problems in the community. Whether that means going to a public meeting and sharing something she’s learned through the Montana Gap project, or getting on the phone and calling people in power to look at certain issues, she intentionally engages beyond the purposes of gathering feedback on a story.
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