Missourian Clip #14 – Cross Country Xtreme

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Cross Country Extreme Features Obstacles, Costumes and Mud

COLUMBIA — Patches of bright colors broke through gray November woods on Saturday as dragons, zombies, brides, firefighters and other characters raced along off-road trails and through obstacle courses.

Under the mud and costumes were couples, best friends, athletes, children and at least two energetic dogs — all participants in XCX, or Cross Country Xtreme. The first wave started the 4-mile race at 9 a.m. at the Midway Travel Plaza sandbar.

(Click title above to read the whole clip)

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I did this story on my way out of town for Thanksgiving break. It was another very fun story to report on and to write – with opportunities to talk to some interesting characters and use some creative descriptions. I pushed myself a little bit to keep talking to people to get some of the more interesting stories, instead of just talking to who was the most obvious or whoever looked the most accessible, I did a little bit of both. I knew right away I wanted to talk to the mother and daughter pair, since I had already talked to so many guys, and the daughter was one of the younger runners. I thought they would have something cute to say, and sure enough they did! As with the mushroom hunting and civil war stories, this is the kind of story I actually want to write for my career, so I found it very enjoyable.

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Missourian Clip #13 – Fire Destroys Abandoned Buildings

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Fire Destroys Abandoned Buildings

COLUMBIA — A fire destroyed a building Thursday night on what was once Sinclair Farm, an MU research facility on Sinclair Road.

The fire, which began at about 8:40 p.m., engulfed the L-shaped building, which was made of metal with a wooden frame, and caused the roof to cave in.

(click link above to read whole story)

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I was settled into a nice movie night, when I got a phone call from the newsroom. All the GA people were out of commission, and they needed someone to report a fire. Not having a smart phone, I had to have the ACE text me the fire checklist, question by question, as I ran out to my car, plugged the address into my GPS, and was on my way…

Yes, I snuck past the police… twice. Once by accident, and then once again to get back on the right side of the incident. Yes, I saw the building curling up like discarded jiffy-pop foil and the water falling like a spray of golden fire, lit from the inferno below. It was beautiful, and I don’t feel bad about saying that, because no one was hurt – the buildings were abandoned, no one was inside, and all of the firefighters also escaped injury.

It took them a long, long time to send someone out to talk to the media. Some of the other stations left, drove their trucks out of the neighborhood where I was standing and waiting. Next time, I’ll bring better clothing. In my rush out the door I’d only grabbed a jacket and a scarf, and I was shivering watching the steam float off the water from the hydrants and the soaked grass start to crunch, frozen underfoot.

But I waited, and finally they sent someone, and I got all the answers standing there with my notebook pressed into my side to keep my hands still enough to write legibly. I called all the information into the newsroom ahead of me, knowing we were perilously close to 11 o’clock, but when I finished, they had me come in anyway – they were waiting for the story.

By the time I left, it was midnight, I smelled like ashes and smoke, and I was still shivering of cold and adrenaline. It was a different evening than I’d planned for myself, but way more interesting!

Mid-Semester Slump

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Clips. Then reflection. Then clips. Then reflection.

My pattern’s so clear it’s even mirrored on this blog.

I’ve had great weeks, and nada weeks. Usually every other week is good, every other week is bad.

I’m not very good at consistency, I guess. 

Maybe that’s my obsessive personality. I like to give things all, or nothing.

And it’s hard to give reporting ‘all’ when I’ve got other classes, tutoring, visits from family members, friends I haven’t seen at all in the last year and things I have to do before I leave for Norway.

For a while, the pattern was working out decently for me. No, I wasn’t producing as many clips as those who applied steady pressure. But in my good weeks I was doing 2-3 stories, making up for the weeks when I did 0-1.

But the last few weeks have not been good. Two weeks ago, I had GA and I technically put out two stories – but one was a simple continuation of the garage lighting thing, and the other was a tiny press release. The week before that, I did nothing. And last week, again, nothing.

I’m well aware that this is unacceptable. And while I could cite complicating factors – my sister’s visit, a big paper and several interviews due for Understanding Audiences, too much travel, period... mid-semester fall slump – there’s no clear cut reason or excuse why I’ve been naughty.

But I’m going to make up for it. I’m staying in Columbia, no exceptions, straight through to Thanksgiving, and I’m going to make these weeks count.