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Johnson joins Western News staff, will cover Troy, sports

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| September 13, 2013 1:42 PM

Philip Johnson, who last month completed his masters degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has joined The Western News staff.

Johnson, 24, whose first assignment included Friday night football coverage, comes to Libby from Rockford, Ill. Last month, he completed requirements for his advanced degree while interning for Business Insider, an online publication as a sports writer in New York City.

“When I was younger, my parents always vacationed at national parks,” Johnson said. “We came to Glacier (National Park) years ago, and I always felt one day I would come back to Montana. My dad made the trip with me for the move.” 

The Western News Publisher Matt Bunk said hiring Johnson will allow the paper to enhance and expand its local news coverage. 

“Phil has demonstrated the motivation, curiosity and talent to excel as a journalist,” said Bunk. “He is a conscientious, thoughtful reporter who is eager to learn everything he can about Libby and Troy. I have no doubt he will become a valuable member of our newsroom, as well as a valuable member of the communities we serve.”

Johnson’s beat will include the City of Troy and the Troy School District. He also will cover sports and various other assignments across Lincoln County. 

“We need to do a better job of covering the news in Troy, so we made that the top priority for Phil,” Bunk said. “It’s a very interesting community that, like Libby, has a lot of potential for growth and prosperity. I’m sure Phil will spend a lot of time writ-

ing about Libby and other areas of Lincoln County, but his main mission will be the people, businesses, events and government entities in Troy.”

Johnson said his philosophy of news is defined as the topic of the day.

“News starts with what people are talking about,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, the news will give them a better understanding, a better foundation. It can be entertaining, interesting and informative. My job is to give people the vegetables they need without necessarily knowing they’re getting it.”

Johnson is a sports fan, and his familiarity with sports — as well as news — is what made him stand out among other candidates.

“I am a sports fanatic. Sports is something I have a huge interest in,” Johnson said, admitting that he is a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. 

“I just hope to write stories that have an impact on the community, to serve our readers,” he said.

Besides sports, Johnson enjoys reading, long-boarding and snowboarding. 

“I’m one of those guys who just gets down on a Sunday and watches football,” he said.