By Matt Christensen Montana Standard Editor

I’m happy to announce three new additions to The Montana Standard, and more new hires are on the way.

Mike Smith joins us from the Duncan Banner in Duncan, Okla. A veteran reporter with more than 20 years of experience, Smith has covered the Indiana Statehouse for the Associated Press and was a lead reporter on the story of Australian ballplayer Christopher Lane, whose death allegedly at the hands of bored teens made international headlines. Smith is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.

His primary beat at The Standard is government. You can reach him at (406) 496-5511.

Angela Brandt is a Montana native who most recently covered crime at the Helena Independent Record. Brandt is a graduate of San Diego State University.

She’ll cover cops and courts for The Standard. You can reach her at (406) 496-5519.

Both reporters beat out highly qualified candidates in a national search. I was impressed by their reputations as hard-nosed journalists, and I know they’ll fit well in the newsroom and the Butte community.

They join Renata Birkenbuel, who became part of the reporting staff in May. Birkenbuel, a veteran reporter and Montana native, most recently freelanced for The Seattle Times and several other Northwest publications. Early on in her career she worked as a sports reporter for The Missoulian and the Great Falls Tribute. At The Standard, she covers business, education and writes feature stories. Reach her at (406) 496-5512.