Final Reflections

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A little bit of reflection, as I come down to my last week and a half at the Missourian –

Everything else aside… ignoring the grade, ignoring the stressful moments and the lingering weaknesses…

This has been the single most important class I have taken in University.

The lecture was, honestly, quite fantastic, even if I didn’t really consider that until the end. It reinforced the lab well as we learned about style and self editing and different types of stories and getting closer to difficult subjects, all the while weaving tips and tricks and our own examples and nobel prize examples and ethics into the discussion.

The GA shifts, when I actually did something – (about 1/2 the time, such are the joys of nightshift) – were surprisingly very useful, very good for me. I couldn’t hide myself away in the dark, spending hours fretting over lines. I learned to go out into the community at a moment’s notice, take the back-roads to reach the accident blocking up the interstate, follow the smoke and the red sky to the fire, get basic information from a panicking girlfriend, and go where everyone else can’t or won’t or wouldn’t. I may not be planning to be a reporter, but after this class, I actually think I could. Maybe.

And working with my beat, even though I feel like I could have done a lot more (at least in the sense of quantity), was perhaps the most rewarding. The one-on-one editing early on in the semester helped me a lot to learn about style and editing, and how much voice and description I can put into what kind of story, and what’s interesting for news and what isn’t. My beat stories were the ones closest to what I want to do with my career – when I was writing about mushroom hunting in the beautiful autumn woods, about a crazy costumed cross country run, about a civil war reenactment half a state away, about a man who took a sternwheeler from Ohio home to Columbia by river… I thought, “This is it… I really, genuinely enjoy this… this is what I want to do.”

I’ve learned a lot, about working across departments, making phone calls, approaching people on the street, feeling like I’m not some impostor who hasn’t any right to ask any questions. Feeling a little bit like an adult, like a professional – and isn’t that half the battle?

 

Missourian Clip #16 – Fall at Devil’s Icebox

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MU student in fair condition after fall at Devil’s Icebox

COLUMBIA — MU student (//////) fell about 25 feet into the Devil’s Icebox Cave just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The student, 18, had been walking with friends in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park when he went off the boardwalk to “explore on his own,” his friend said. He was climbing the fence to get back onto the boardwalk when he slipped and fell into the fissure that leads into the cave.

 (Click title above to read the whole clip)

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Even though I knew I was going to report an accident, it was strange to see Rockbridge Park filled with sirens and flashing lights.

I so often go there for pleasure that I was drawn to the story immediately, volunteered to be the one to run down there and see what was up with the “kid who fell” at the Devil’s Icebox.

As I pulled up, they were coming out of the woods with a backboard. As I ran up to the scene, they were shutting the ambulance doors.

I spoke to his friends and his girlfriend, and from what I could tell, the one who fell had been pretty lucky, all things considered. Walking off the path, he slipped while climbing a fence and fell backwards into the vertical opening of the cave.

There are rocks down there, and cold running water.

But the girlfriend said she went down there and got him, and the two managed to get up the stairs before the ambulance arrived. He was conscious, and talking to them. They said he was in pain, and I saw blood on his girlfriend’s jacket.

It could have been a lot worse.

Missourian Clip #15 – Bias Free Coalition

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City coalition discusses ways to integrate Muslims and Latin Americans

COLUMBIA — The Bias-free Columbia Coalition met Tuesday evening in Columbia City Hall to discuss efforts to make Columbia a welcoming community for people of all backgrounds. In the third meeting of the ongoing series, the presentations centered on programs that help integrate Muslims and Latin Americans.

Rashed Nizam and Arwa Mohommad of the Central Missouri Islamic Center gave a sample of a presentation they have developed to spread awareness of Islamic culture.

Mohommad, who was born in Columbia to Iraqi parents, tried to dispel myths and misconceptions about Muslims throughout the United States and within Columbia, stressing that Muslims vary greatly by ethnicity, level of practice and culture. 

She explained that in Islam, jihad does not mean “holy war” but usually “personal struggle for the sake of God,” wearing a hijab should be a choice that each woman makes for herself, and the Quran holds men and women to be equal. She also gave advice for police officers and others who enter Muslim homes and places of worship to respect gender boundaries, remove shoes and give women time to cover before entering. 

(Click title above to read the whole clip)

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Another sort of cultural story. I like the subject matter, but it was hard to report on. My story after all was not an exploration of myths and stereotypes about Muslims, but a simple report on a city hall meeting. I was torn, because the interesting parts of the presentation were anything but hard news, and the hard news itself was very dry and took up an insane amount of space, since all the organizations involved had long, unwieldy names, and the coalition was a team of about 12 different groups that needed to be named. I did the best I could, but it wasn’t easy to keep it short and interesting…