Former Lee Newspapers statehouse reporter Chuck Johnson in the Montana Free Press studio. Credit: LEIA LARSEN / MTFP
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HELENA — In his 43 years reporting on Montana politics and government, Chuck Johnson covered 23 legislative sessions, eight governors, nine U.S. Senators, 12 U.S. Representatives, and more elections, controversies and political battles than you can count.

His reporting was always factual, fair, and infused with a sense of history and institutional knowledge that gave readers a broader perspective on the most significant issues of the day. That’s why Chuck Johnson is known throughout the state as the “Dean of Montana Politics.”

In Episode 5 of the Montana Lowdown podcast, we sat down with Johnson to talk about what’s changed, and what hasn’t, at the Montana Legislature over the past 45 years.

Now retired from journalism, Johnson talked candidly about the current state of journalism, the “gross abuse” of the legislative process he’s witnessed in recent legislative sessions by key lawmakers, and the untold news stories he hopes journalists will pursue in the weeks and months ahead.

John Adams began his professional career in 2001 in Idaho Falls, ID writing and editing for a variety of trade magazines. He covered topics ranging from potato and sugar beet farming to skate park and playground construction and maintenance. Adams started his newspaper career as the city government reporter for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he covered the City Hall, police, fire and local courthouse beats. In 2005 he joined the staff of the Missoula Independent in Missoula, MT where he worked as a staff reporter covering a wide range of issues including the environment,...