A semester in review

Well this semester with the Missourian has been anything but easy and that is perfectly okay. I knew going into this class that the demands were high and that I needed to dedicate my time in order to get the most from this class.

One huge lesson that I learned from this experience is that my grade doesn’t matter. I am usually the up-tight, type-A personality who needs perfection in order to be satisfied, but I know that perfection does not mean I am learning and does not define my success. Rather, I learned that looking back at all the stories I have done, the wide variety of lessons I learned, that is the only way to define my success.

Through the Missourian I will be able to show my future employers that I can write a story on deadline, I can get an effective interview, I can be a journalist.

I had no reporting experience before the Missourian, so I was walking into this experience blind. While I did have J2100 and J2150 under my belt, that did not prepare me for how much more there is to learn once I was engulfed in the journalist routine.

I didn’t do newspaper or yearbook in high school. I was just some girl who loved to write and learn about the world around her. Isn’t that what journalism is? Being so intrigued by the things happening around you that you almost turn into a gossip machine (that tells the truth). To me, a journalist is just someone who is curious, investigative, sociable (maybe just through writing) and passionate. All we are trying to do is tell all 7.4 billion people in the world about the latest gossip.

THANKS FOR A GREAT SEMESTER REEDKATH!

XOXO Gossip Girl

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Working with numbers

During my GA shift on Wednesday, I was asked to look at this fiscal report by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that showed the success of using advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to avoid hospitalization for older people. Read my story here.

As much as I love numbers and math, trying to make it readable is something that I needed to work on. This report gave me multiple percentages, number of years, amount in dollars, number of people, etc. Taking a 240 page report and a news release and finding the important information was a task at hand.

Some things that made this easier for me was the availability of Dr. Marilyn Rantz and the lovely shortcut keys on a computer. I was able to confirm information with Rantz and search within the document with key words to find what I needed.

Another thing that made this easier for me was being interested in the findings of this study. I was genuinely interested in the ways in which hospitalizations can be decreased with older people because I do have family members who are constantly being hospitalized. It is better to know what may help them and share my knowledge with them.

This story was fun because talking with Rantz was pleasant. While we talked about the study for the majority of the time, Rantz wasn’t afraid to go on tangents about other related information she had. For example, she talked about how to help older people with dehydration. When you visit them, bring them their favorite drink. If they like lemonade, make sure you bring lemonade and drink it with them. I thought that was very clever. Maybe its not something that I can use for the story, but maybe I can use it in my own life or use it to spark an idea for a future story.

Those are the best type of interviews – when the interviewee talks about more than just the questions at hand. That is when the real stories come through – where it becomes a conversation and not a tensed interview.

Odd news is still news

Although things that people do can be considered strange or odd, it sometimes turns out to be the most interesting, yet still newsworthy, piece. Read the story here by AP News about all the odd things that happened this week.

After a semester of working with serious, public-health- and safety-related content, it is nice to remember there are some fun stories that can be done. For one, opossum broke into a liquor store and drank bourbon, a man stole a $300,000 car then asked for gas money at a gas station and a deer broke into a Mississippi school.

Sometimes I think that people enjoy the funny or heart-warming news because of the constant cynical journalism that they may expect. While journalism is not meant to be cynical (but rather inform the public), it is easy to see how it can be viewed that way when there are stories about crime rates increasing, white supremacy groups discriminating or constant fear from terrorist attacks.

It’s even nice as a journalist to read these type of stories. Like I said, a semester of pretty serious reporting can leave a bitter taste in the mouth but reading stories like this allow me to laugh in the midst of seriousness.

AP News is regarded as high-class journalism, so it is good to know I can still do “fun” reporting if I work for a newspaper – since I always imagined myself working for a magazine. That might change though! I have truly enjoyed the Missourian. We shall see. 🙂

“Same soul”

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCBSEveningNews%2Fvideos%2F10156078869189073%2F&show_text=0&width=560

As I was browsing through Facebook, indulging in all the news it has to offer, I came across the video above. I thought this was a really well-done piece of journalism. The video shows two little girls, one black and one white. They believe they are twins. The beautiful thing about this is that they are twins by their height and personality – not by their skin tone.

The innocence that lies within children is inspiring. In the midst of all the racial issues with police, white supremacy and all other divisions within our nation, it is a heartwarming story to see how race does not matter. We are all the same.

My favorite part of the video is when an older kid was trying to tell the girls how they weren’t twins because their skin color is different, but one of the girls replied stating that they are twins because they have the same soul. There is no societal influence that drives these girls away from believing they are twins.

With over 10 million views, it is easy to see why this type of story is a hit with the public. Finding a unique story like this is such a gold nugget for journalists. I hope one day I find a gold nugget like this.

Healthcare doesn’t care

This morning, I was going through some of the media organizations’ websites to look at the news. I, for some reason, felt very compelled to look up what is happening around me. I’m not sure if this is because I am back home and not around the Missourian to know what’s happening or if I’ve created a good habit. But I went to USA Today and saw an interesting headline:

Hidden camera shows how WWII veteran died after calling for help, gasping for air

That stuck out to me. Not only was the story already something people would want to see, but the verb “calling” and “grasping” really put an image in my head. I clicked on the link, and the article was supplemented with a video.

The piece was an investigative story that took quite a long time to actually retrieve the video they wanted. Andy Pierrotti’s story was published November 18, 2017, but the actual incident in which James Dempsey called out for help happened February 27, 2014. The reporter said the nursing home operators tried to go to the state’s highest court so they didn’t have to release the video. Clearly, the investigators on this story did not give up and finally retrieved the footage.

Some things that I like about this piece was that the story was set up very well. The journalist introduced the incident, showed the footage of Dempsey calling out and then showed the nurses laughing. This made it clear to the readers that this man is dying and the nurses are having fun rather than saving a life.

Another part of the story I enjoyed was when the Dempsey’s lawyer talked to one of the nurses and asked if they continuously tried to help Dempsey. The nurse said yes, but then the lawyer counters her by showing her the film of the nurse not helping. This was a subtle way to show the nurse he already knew the answer, but he wanted to see if she would confess that she didn’t help.

The lawyer continued by asking if the nurse would have written up the nurses in the video for what they did – if she wasn’t one of them. She said she would have. This allowed the reader to understand that the actions of the nurses were completely inappropriate.

Lastly, because I could go on about how much I enjoyed this story, Pierrotti talked to an experienced nurse. He showed her the footage of the nurses failing to help and said, “In 43 years of nursing, I have never seen such disregard for human life in a healthcare setting.”

That was such a powerful quote to get and one that sums up the whole story. It will be interesting to see the responses to this story.

Watch the story here.

Powerful pictures

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the week is go to BuzzFeed’s website and look at their powerful pictures of the week post. This week, there are so many things that gutted me.

Click here to look at the whole list.

I will be pointing out two pictures: one happy, one sad.

buzzfeed-equal

To begin, this photo was taken in Sydney, Australia after the decision to allow same-sex marriage. For me, I am always one to speak as an ally with the LGBTQ community. I am minoring in women and gender studies, and to me, this was a huge accomplishment for Australia.

When word came out about the majority vote in favor of same-sex marriage, I instantly went to Twitter to retweet the news. I wanted everyone to know the good news.

One thing that is still astounding to me is that it took until 2017 for Australia to accept same-sex marriage legally. For England and Wales, it became legal in 2013, and in Scotland, it became legal in 2014. For the U.S., same-sex marriage became legal in 2015. That puts Australia at a huge disadvantage.

Although there are so many countries that have yet to allow same-sex marriage, this one step can mean so much to millions of people living in Australia.

The second picture I wanted to get to is the shooting that happened in a Texas church.

buzzfeed-church

This is the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. After the shooting, the church was painted white and there were 26 chairs with a red cross to honor the victims in the shooting.

The reason this stood out to me so much is that this is a church where people went every day or every Sunday. The white represents the innocence of the people who were murdered there. The red roses show the love to the victims regardless of who they are.

There is so much sadness that fills my heart when looking at this picture. As someone who has family in Texas, thinking that this could have happened to my own family is terrifying.

There were so many innocent lives taken that day from a selfish man. The victims had no idea what was going to happen when they went to pray and praise Jesus that day. That, I think, is what hurts me the most. That is supposed to be a sacred, safe place for everyone, but it is clear that churches are no longer considered a safe haven.

Pictures speak more than words ever could sometimes, and I think these pictures say enough.

Veteran’s Day special

I worked on a featured article about alternatives to veterans’ health for a couple of months. It started as a central focus on one program that had new coaches, but after realizing there is much more to this than originally thought, I had to go back multiple times talking to different people to understand the whole picture.

The story slowly transformed from a narrow program focus to a broader, larger reach of how this program and others help veterans. It took about five times or so of going back and forth with Katherine about what is missing, why it is hard to understand and what can be added to make sense to finally get the finished product.

At first, I interviewed people on the original idea of the Integrative Health and Wellness program. I talked to the program coordinator and two coaches. After meeting with them, I learned there was a lot that goes into this single program. It is more than just a program but a long-term lifestyle. Only writing about this program would not do the community justice on understanding the impact of this creative approach to veterans’ health.

When I went back to Katherine, I had to explain a lot of what was written. The piece seemed to be all over the place because of how much information was packed into this one program. We decided that this can’t be a piece just about this one program.

From there we brainstormed and found a focus – mindfulness. Was this what was being used in other programs at the VA hospital? Along with Katherine’s investigation, I began to interview a cardiologist who works on mediation for heart problems and a doctor who believes in similar therapy ideas like the Integrative Health and Wellness Program.

The final missing piece in this article was an authentic veteran voice. I reached out to all my sources about finding someone who would be willing to talk to me about their experiences, and soon enough, there was someone within a minute.

The alignment of how long it took to get all the information and interview everyone somehow perfectly lined up to where it would be ready for Veteran’s Day. I’m glad I was able to do some justice and bring attention to an idea that does not use medication to treat common veteran health problems.

Read my story here!

FINALLY *DUN DUN NUN*

Monday rolled around, and the front page of the Missourian was the HPV article I worked on with another reporter. I feel like I have been waiting for this day for so long.

It seemed that there was always something that needed to be fixed before it could be published, so the publication date kept getting pushed further and further back.

Once the article was posted, I immediately tweeted it out, tagged people, posted it on all my social media, just hoping for some interactions.

My editor notified me later that day that AP wants to pick up the story. I was overjoyed and thrilled. I did not realize that the AP even read the Missourian, but obviously, I was proven wrong.

I call the AP editor, and she tells me they will publish it the following day, Tuesday. Unfortunately, Tuesday comes around and there is nothing. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, nothing. I have been waiting all week to write this because I was hoping that it would get posted sometime this week, but it hasn’t.

While my 10 seconds of what I thought would be fame was brief, I am still extremely happy to even be recognized by AP. Knowing that I did a story where they felt it was worth the interest of one of the biggest and most credible news organizations is so satisfying to me as a writer.

AP is not the only contender who matters to me though. The community around me and their level of interest in a topic is what drives me. All the hard work that went into this piece wasn’t for nothing. There has been a lot of community engagement on Facebook with this article. Many people feel the vaccine is deathly to people and are sharing their sources in the comments.

Whether people’s minds changed after reading the article is almost out of my hands, I am still happy to know that people are passionate about topics and are reading the news. I think I sometimes forget how blessed I am to be at MU – the greatest journalism school in the nation.

HPV is a controversial topic because of political bias, but starting that community conversation is what’s important.

Read my article here!

Missourian reporting

While the semester is starting to get near closing time, the Missourian has not slowed down. I especially feel like I am not slowing down. I wanted to take time in this blog post to reflect on everything I have been through this semester.

To begin, I must say that I did not expect to like news reporting. I always saw myself as a magazine journalist, but the more time I spend in the news room and reporting on breaking news, the more I realize how much I love it. I am constantly spending all my time on reporting and neglecting my other classes. I know that is really bad. I just want to be put in the real world and give my life to reporting.

I’ve really found my love for journalism during this class. Going to journalism classes has been fun, but it is nothing compared to the real deal. Here is a small list of things I have learned this semester:

  1. How to report breaking news
  2. What questions to ask in breaking news
  3. How to find stories
  4. How to interact with the audience online
  5. How to better my writing as a journalist
  6. How to not waste time in the newsroom
  7. How to use outside sources for help in a story
  8. How to use other journalists for help in a story
  9. How to make a budget
  10. How to write briefs
  11. How to write in-depth reporting
  12. How to find records
  13. There are so many more… so to be continued

News reporting may make me change my major! I have enjoyed every moment. Every mistake I made has helped me become a better journalist, and trust me, I have made so many mistakes this semester. But, that’s what I needed to help me learn and move past this idea that I will always do everything perfectly.

I am thankful that I spend hours a day on reporting news because it will set me apart from other journalists when I try to find a job.

Breaking news – car accidents

Today, in the middle of budget, Marta, a photographer, ran into the room talking about a serious accident that happened on Interstate 70. What she heard on the scanner was that two people were ejected from a vehicle. From there, it was kind of a blur.

The conversation probably went something like, “Who wants the story?” Me hesitantly saying I’d go even though I’m scared of trauma; then Katherine telling me to hurry up and leave. Sounds about right.

Liz, another editor, helped me put on a reflective media vest and out we went.

On the car ride there my heart was racing, and my head was screaming:

“What do I ask the police? Or do I ask the ambulance people? Is the fire department there? Will I see the bodies? I don’t like blood. Please don’t let there be blood. Okay. I can do this. Don’t screw up!”

When we arrived on the scene, it is only us and ABC 17. “Awesome,” I think. “I get to have the first pick at who I want to talk to.”

Walking up to the scene initially, I did not know where to go. There were police cars everywhere and only one other reporter. I did not want to be in the way or go where I wasn’t suppose to. I probably asked Marta 100 questions.

After talking to the police and fire department, Marta and I raced to my car to warm up. Note: it was like 39 degrees outside, and your girl from Texas is not a fan.

Back in the newsroom, I quickly wrote up a story. When Tyler, the ACE on duty, asked me follow-up questions, I realized what other questions I could have asked.

“How many times did the car roll?”

“How old were the victims?”

What I learned from this experience is to not be afraid of breaking news stories that may involve trauma. Although they seem scary, they really aren’t. It’s fun to get out in the field to report and talk to people instead of sitting in a newsroom. It’s also a great time to challenge your interviewing skills on the spot.

Read my story here.

NOTE: It is still being updated with more information.