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  18 January 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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The Twelve Best Magpie Articles of 2012

Inside the Belly of the Bakken
This was no assignment; writer Michael Shaw and photographer Chris Sawicki took it upon themselves to hop over the border to North Dakota, to ground zero of the Bakken oil formation, and report their findings.  Truth be told, we'd never heard of these guys before (and haven't heard from them since).  The article also broke a Magpie rule in a big way; we like to keep word counts down, so that the copy is digestible.  But the Bakken article fractured our model, pulverized it—the final cut went over 5,000 words.  Once the dust settled, it had garnered more viewer attention than almost anything published here all year.  (Link here for the full article.)

Constitutional Mayhem
Take note, Jay Moor's op-ed on the egregious abuse of the Bill of Rights was published on 18 September 2012, following a video that pushed the boundaries of the first amendment, lighting a firestorm—and deadly retribution—at American embassies around the world.  Though references were made to the second amendment, it wasn't until almost three months later that the Newtown Elementary School massacre tipped off a national debate on gun ownership.  Moor's op-ed transcends:  the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the various amendments are not to be regarded as toys to be cast about with a child's disregard.  Until that's firmly rooted in the American state-of-mind, we're going to see a lot more bloody headlines.   (Link here for the full article.)

A Letter to My Son
Though the highest aspirations and goals of the Magpie are, well, pretty gosh-darn high, it's not every article we publish that prompts readers to cry.  According to the feedback from numerous readers of this article, that's just what this one did.  (Link here for the full article.)


Montana's Hunting Access in the Line of Fire
The US general election was the talk of the planet in 2012, and the US Senate race in Montana drew lots of ink (and digital pixels), as well.  In between all those stinking, repetitive, campaign-regulation-abusing television and radio ads, there were some pretty significant battles on the state's political undercard.  One of those—pertaining to Montana's public lands and hunting access regulations—drew the attention of Ben Lamb, a longtime Montanan, a conservationist, and a devoted hunter.  It's a good set-up for the 63rd Montana state legislature (starting next week).  Keep your eyes on "the ditch bill," a little cutthroat of legislation that's trying to get a knife into Montana's fabled fishing access laws.  (Link here for the full article.)

Banking on Montana
Alas, when Marshall Swearingen came our way in the spring of this year, we knew he was something special... and that he wouldn't be around for long.  Any one of his eight articles (the full list is available here) could make an argument for placement on this list.  We thought it appropriate that the selection be the same article (retooled) by Marshall to appear under his new employer's masthead at High Country News.  (Link here for the full article.)  

All These Guns
Written by the Magpie's founder and editor, this is a humble, single point-of-view in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  It found a chorus with many readers in the weeks since the tragedy, perhaps owing to the reflective tone of the author: a gun owner, parent of a six-year-old, and vocal advocate for civil rights.  (Link here for the full article.)

Heading Phar North
In another debut of young talent within the Magpie, Andrea Smith introduced us in turn to Bozeman's Phar North Clothing Company.  The emphasis on a local entrepreneur and the importance of American-based manufacturing are what sets this article apart, as does the writing of Smith, and we are looking forward to plenty more from "all of the above" in 2013.  (Link here for the full article.)


Women's Rights Under Fire
Don't believe the dismissive Republican politicians, don't even take it from us, but 2012 was a very challenging year for women's rights advocates.  This from Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, Cecile Richards (pictured right), who said, "This last year has been the worst year ever in terms of aggressive assaults at the state legislative level and at the congressional level against women's basic right to access health care." In this timely feature, Megan Selheim did an unparalleled job of snaring the zeitgeist.   (Link here for the full article.)


Epic Abuse
It's also true that we like to spinkle some sugar atop our content carbohydrates, which can otherwise get a little heavy.  Though this article is drenched in irony, putting it at a tart end of the sweetness spectrum, we'd like to find more content like this in the coming year.  (Link here for the full article.)

Montana Proud
Kim McKeehan should be granted a permanent chair and esteemed credentials for all the altruistic projects she undertakes personally and professionally.  Among worthy entries on the social crisis of alcoholism, spirituality in Montana, Native American issues, this lead-in to the annual Montana Pride weekend, celebrated in Bozeman this past June, is a prime example of the Magpie stalwart's work.  (Link here for the full article.)

Savvy & Rift in Bozeman's Art Community
Our intent with this article was something off-beat, a new angle, perhaps, or at least a fresh perspective on the local art community.  Then Michele Corriel's off-the-cuff opinion piece came in, and the text became a catalyst for change in the Bozeman art scene.  What might come out of it in 2013 is anyone's guess, but last we heard a meeting of the minds—including the new chair of the MSU art department—was scheduled and much anticipated.  (Link here for the full article.)

In Defense of Public Lands
Leave it to a former lawyer to sum up the national assualt on public lands and parry it so deftly.  Matt Skoglund prefers (strongly) to be considered in his life's second iteration as an advocate for conservation, a husband, a paternal figure to a black lab named Aldo, and a devoted sportsman...  but that doesn't mean that he's forgotten his studies in rhetoric.  As the innocuously named 'Sagebrush Rebellion' gains sickening popularity across the West and right here in Montana, we the people need more defenders like Sloglund.  (Link here for the full article.)

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Editor's Note:   Tawdry and out-of-character for the Magpie, the expose on world-famous paleontologist Jack Horner deserves at least an asterisk-marked inclusion, much like the Barry Bonds home-run record.   In January Horner, a 62-year old professor emeritus in the MSU paleontology department, scooted off to Las Vegas to marry a 19-year-old MSU paleontology student.  The article deserves mention for only two reasons, neither of them pertaining to journalism:  it was our most-read article of the year by an order of magnitude and a few leading institutions of Bozeman—including MSU—wanted the public to think it was a non-story.  (Link here, if you insist.)

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