Dillon Kato, Cops and Courts Reporter

Taking an ethical, unbiased approach to reporting local news

Interview by Eric Lindblad

Missoulian reporter Dillon Kato takes notes while looking through the court calendar on his phone at the Missoula County Courthouse, April 11, 2017. Photo by Eric Lindblad.

Q: Why did you become a journalist?

A: I first started in journalism when I was in high school. I grew up here in Missoula, had one of the best journalism schools in the country sitting essentially in my backyard and decided I wanted to do journalism or to go after journalism. Started at UM and really enjoyed my classes, really enjoyed the work. You know, got into the Kaimin and really enjoyed that. Then, my senior year, came the university sex assault case. All of the sudden, the school brought in a former supreme court justice to conduct an independent investigation. People were getting arrested and charged, and that just solidified things for me. I became the head reporter for those issues for us, and for me this is what I want to do, I really enjoyed it, it’s fast-paced, it moves, it’s something new every day. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Q: What do you do to get people to read your work?

A: My work appears on the Missoulian website and in print many times a week. I’m probably not as good as I could be about really getting myself out there. I have co-workers who have their own professional Facebook pages or who are just super-active on Twitter, pushing out their own stories and pulling people in. It’s certainly something I need to work on and get better at. So, I would say I probably don’t do enough.

Q :What’s one thing you’d want to tell your readers about local journalism?

A: I think just as we see a journalism industry that is struggling financially for a lot of different reasons, that you’re gonna to miss it when it’s gone. If it’s not around anymore, if there’s not a person going to these city council meetings, to figure out this new $5 million line-item budget that the city has all of the sudden added in, and to tell you about that far enough in advance that you might be able to do something about it, or you might be able to decide to vote for somebody else cause you’re not happy about that, you’re going to miss that when it’s gone. And our community is going to be worse off if there aren’t people who can do that anymore, and do it professionally, and do it without a bias, and do it the right way, and by a certain code of ethics and morals and importance. If that does get to a point where it goes away, it’s going to dramatically change this community in ways that I don’t think people always appreciate right now.

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