Eric Dietrich and Leia Larsen

Montana Free Press reporter Leia Larsen and independent data journalist Eric Dietrich talk about what inspires them to pursue the news, and their hopes for the future of nonprofit journalism.

Leia Larsen is an award-winning reporter who has covered the environment and public policy in Colorado, Utah, and now at the Montana Capitol. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and she’s the first full-time staff writer for the Montana Free Press.

“You know, we cover a lot of policy at the legislature, but I like to take that policy and then go to an actual person in the field and say… ‘let’s get out of these marble rooms, and what is this doing to you? How are you feeling this?’ I think that’s what I like, just connecting with people,” Larsen said.

Eric Dietrich is a journalist and data designer who recently moved to Helena to help us out at the Montana Free Press. Eric is the lead reporter on the Long Streets collaborative economics reporting project, and he has previously worked for the Great Falls Tribune, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and, more recently, for the Solutions Journalism Network.

“Thinking about journalism from the perspective of an engineer, the media can be such a powerful tool for helping us understand and solve our problems,” Dietrich said.

Montana Lowdown podcast features in-depth conversations with top newsmakers, journalists, politicians, and experts about significant issues facing America’s “last best place.” Hosted by veteran award-winning journalist and Montana Free Press founder John S. Adams. subscribe to the Montana Lowdown podcast on iTunes, Google PlaySpotify, or Stitcher.

Montana Free Press was founded by veteran award-winning investigative and political reporter John S. Adams. John was formerly the Capital Bureau Chief of the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA TODAY. John is known as a dogged investigator and the host of the MT Lowdown podcast whose unbiased reporting has changed the shape of Montana politics. Contact John at, or follow him on Twitter.