Posted November 12, 2009
The Missouri Blue Book came out this week. Secretary of State Robin Carnihan published the newest edition both in print and online. Roy Blunt commented the book had grammatical errors and is too expensive to print. After looking over the book, I found some interesting facts. First, I had no idea Missouri had a State Dessert, the ice cream cone, or a State Dinosaur. Why is the Missouri State Animal a sterile animal? The mule is unable to reproduce...it's the product of a horse and a donkey. I understand it was important to farming in the state, but it seems a little demeaning. Also, the Missouri State American Folk Dance is the square dance. My question is, what other American Folk Dances are there?
Posted October 22, 2009
It was a slow news week at the Capitol. Last week was better, but feeling ill kept me from the bureau. I wasn't able to turn a story today, for the first time this semester. I'll pick it up next week, so hopefully I'll have a few stories next week. I'm looking at initiative petitions for the November 2010 ballot. A few big issues seem to overtake the list: eminent domain and abortion rights. These are big issues, so we'll see if they serve to get more people to the polls in an off-year.
Phill is gone this week, so the office wasn't quite the same. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what was different, but there was less shouting and much less computer programming. It will be good to have him back next week.
Posted October 8, 2009
The Missouri v. Nebraska game is on tonight, so everyone is trying to get out of here as quickly as they can so they don't miss the game. The problem is, I'm still waiting on a phone call back. Sometimes that happens, where an entire story hinges on one interview. The waiting game is the hardest for me, because I get impatient and frustrated. Sometimes though, it helps, because I start to think, "well who else can I call?" Sometimes that yields better sources and better stories.Being impatient isn't a virtue, but I suppose if I use it to my advantage, that's just as good as learning to wait.
Posted October 1, 2009:
Drama in the Capitol. After a week of covering the E. coli in the Lake of the Ozarks, words like "cover up" and "scandal" started to surface. There's something exciting about listening to a news conference when the Governor uses phrases like "abysmal failure" and "angrier than words can describe." Covering big issues like this remind me what I like about journalism; making sense of a lot of yelling and accusations, so the public knows what's going on. Sometimes it gets difficult to sort through all the information to find what's most important, because even with a two-minute feature it's hard to explain everything germane to the topic. Also, I worked closely with print reporter Jeremy Essig, and I always appreciate our converged newsroom after working with other reporters. We were able to talk over the issues and both of our stories were stronger because of it.
I am really appreciating being here two days in a row this semester. Last year I was here Monday and Wednesdays, and sometimes the issues that were important on Monday would be dead by Wednesday. Also, doing projects this semester has helped me to be a better reporter, because I look at the big picture, rather than just forming my stories around the best single sound bite or detail. Hopefully this semester will yield the best journalism I've done so far.
Posted September 16, 2009:
I'm back in the State Capitol, but not just as a reporter. I'm teaching students who were in my position last year, and it's fun but more difficult than I thought. I've always enjoyed teaching, but I also want to get stories done of my own. I'm writing weekly features for KSMU in Springfield, so trying to do both can get frustrating. I like doing features a lot, because getting in-depth is something I miss from when I did primarily print journalism. I also like doing non-spot news, because synthesis and analytical journalism sometimes get lost in today's "I want to know 10 minutes ago" world. I'm proud of the analysis I've been able to produce. KBIA in Columbia had me come in and re-voice a piece I did last week about Swine Flu, affectionately termed as "Swine 09'," in college dorms. It feels good to have people appreciate your work.
Let's just hope my students can find the same success I did after a semester here.
Posted April 22, 2009:
Now that the session is coming into crunch time, there's a lot more chasing to be done. I've spent two days chasing stories that either ended up not being anything or being handed over to another reporter. I don't need to be published to feel like a good reporter, so it's not upsetting. Today the Senate let out early to go play softball, so Jenny and I might go get some famous Central Dairy ice cream because the weather is so nice.
I can count the number of Capitol shifts I have left this semester on just one hand.
Posted April 15, 2009:
I will never again assume I have to come into work. Monday was a legislative holiday, and because I didn't do my duty as a journalist and check into the archives to see that we have never produced a story the day after Easter before. That's good to know.
Today the House will be going through bills for perfection until late tonight. I sat in before lunch and got some great sound in a minimum wage debate. I enjoy hearing ideological debate and not just because it's good to hear legislators giving their honest opinions. Lawmakers say the darndest things.
Posted April 1, 2009:
It's good to be back.
This week I found two stories that were different from others I've done in the past. On Monday I did a spot news story on a House bill about fire safety. Today I heard a tip from another reporter about a jobs bill and was able to write a story about lack of progress. Sometimes the story is "nothing is happening."
Also, I found out a neat trick about the water fountains here. If you press a button on the side, water comes out of the bear's mouth. Go try it, it's pretty nifty.
Posted March 18, 2009:
Spring has come to the Capitol, and sitting outside for lunch has been lovely. Sitting in the shadow of Jefferson, we watched bus loads of school children swarm the Capitol, learning the very most basic elements of the legislative system. Sometimes I wish I could be so carefree.
Having no legislators in the building has left us to work on features. I'm calling around and setting up interviews for after I return from my Spring Break in Washington. It's funny, I'm trading a week at the State Capitol for a week at the Federal Capitol. I won't be doing any reporting there though.
The nice thing about fewer legislators is that I can call people from outside of the Capitol, which I sometimes forget is an option. I should try to get people from outside of the building, because that tends to happen only when they're testifying at Committee.
Posted March 11, 2009:
The week before legislative spring break is exciting. On Monday I sat in on House Budget Committee while they talked about Iset's budget proposal. It was a long meeting and full of information. Unfortunately it didn't result in a story, but it was still good to hear.
Today I went to the House and heard a debate on an abortion coercion bill. The debate was heated and intense and led to a really compelling story. The bill had overwhelming support...a veto-proof majority. This means there was bi-partisan support, and I got to talk to a Democrat about why she didn't vote in line with her party. It was exciting and challenging.
Oh, and I got cleared for KMOX. I feel accomplished.
Posted March 4, 2009:
Having my feature done last week was great. I felt so good doing a wrap on the story I'd been working on for a while. Then I had Wednesday off to study for some tests. It was a much needed vacation, but I felt strange not being here.
This week has been a little different. Apparently the work we've been putting out hasn't been up to the quality standard of some of our outlets, so we're going to have to step up our game. I need to make a new mantra: "What happened today and why is it important." I could live by that and get along just fine.
On a fun note, I used a quote today that made me laugh. "Crashing SUCKS on a motorcycle." I'm sure it does.
Posted February 18, 2009:
MDN is never predictable. I assumed that I would be finishing my small business feature today, but we all know what Phill says about assuming. I enjoyed Senate this morning and got a great story out of Senator Schaefer's bill about nuclear waste. Then Senator Ridgeway began a filibuster about a bill pertaining to political action taken by Kansas City police officers. She made a calendar of historic Missouri events very interesting. That's talent. Maybe she should consider broadcasting.
It gets easier every day to listen to Senate or a hearing and pull out what is important. That was a big fear of mine early on. I hate the clichÚ that knowledge is power, but I have gotten much more confident since beginning to understand how this place works. Learning names has also made the Capitol a much friendlier environment.
Posted February 11, 2009:
The pouring rain this morning was a precursor to my day at MDN. Not that today was bad by any means, but when it rains, it certainly does pour here. There was a lot going on, especially when I got to the Senate Jobs Committee. They talked about the tax credits bill for a few hours and saw about a thousand witnesses. I made a mistake with my audio somewhere along the way, and had to go interview a Senator. Even though I was a little discouraged, this story has proved to be my favorite so far. Also, it fits in with my feature, so that makes me feel good.
Also, today must have been bring a lobbyist to work day, because there were about a million people here. Someone had a chocolate fountain. We need a chocolate fountain in the newsroom.
Posted February 9, 2009:
Senate is nothing like high school. In Senate, no one attends. No one sits in their seats. Everyone has side conversations with their neighbor. Everyone passes notes.
Senate is just like high school. In Senate, everyone fights about small details for long periods of time. Everyone has inside jokes. "This note just flew in here like magic...much like e-mail if I had a laptop..." Sometimes, Mondays are really slow.
I did learn how to tie a climbing knot today from Phill. Like in climbing, it's dangerous to have to deal with untangling cords in journalism.
Posted February 4, 2009:
Journalists are sense-makers. We walk into a meeting, listen to all view points, and decide what the news is. That is what today was all about for me. I went into the Missouri Public Service Commission meeting and listened to a debate on weather to begin a discussion in the legislature regarding Callaway II, a new nuclear power plant. In addition to learning a great deal about a topic that I had only limited knowledge of, I also had to find the news of their debate. At first it seemed as though there was no news. Four men fought for 45 minutes about legislative process and timeliness. As soon as I returned Phill pointed out to me that the debate was the news. The commission had acted expeditiously on all other matters but that one. The story was less difficult to write after that.
I also forgot to check the settings on my recorder today, so my sound needed some help. Luckily, I was able to use most everything I recorded, but it was a good lesson learned none the less.
Posted February 2, 2009:
Today I went to my first news conference at the Capitol. The House Democrats are proposing four bills this week regarding benefits to military families. I didn't ask any questions but I was able to get a good feeling of how news conferences go. Also, it was a good chance to begin putting names with faces, which can be especially difficult in the House. After writing two wraps for the conference, I started getting together some information on Senator Callahan's bill regarding MOHELA. After calling and stopping by offices, I still didn't have an interview. I'll pursue it on Wednesday. Doing wraps was easier today, and I was able to keep them tight. I'm getting a little better at leads, but I suppose it will all get easier in time. Today I choose a long term feature project to work on: I'll be looking at small businesses and how they apply for aid or grants in Missouri. That should be interesting.
Posted January 28, 2009:
This is my first week with MDN. I was very excited to come work in Jefferson City, but I was still very nervous when I came in today. I attended the State of the Judiciary Address today and from that speech I wrote a story about the lack of public defenders in Missouri. I talked to the public defender's office and found statistics on the lack of defenders. According to Deputy Director Cathy Kelly, Missouri would ideally have 192 more attorneys than they currently do.Starting the process of producing my first radio story from square one this morning was intimidating, but when I produced my wraps today, it was a really satisfying feeling. I can only hope my stories get used for something, but if not, that's the life of a journalist.
I hope to keep up with Nixon's recommendation for more public defenders in the state. While there is little money for anything this fiscal year, it will be interesting to see how many new public defenders the state is afforded. While the legislature won't vote until February on the budget, I'm sure I will be able to follow up with it then.