Monday, November 29, 2010

Feature Story: Missouri's Trucking Industry

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Missouri has a large trucking industry and part of that has to do with its geographical location to major shipping and manufacturing sites. According to some, the trucking industry can be see as a leading indicator of the direction the economy is heading. There are some new trucking regulations hitting the industry tomorrow (Nov. 30th) so I did an in-depth story for KOMU looking into how the new rules (called the Comprehensive Safety Analysis or CSA) will affect Missouri's industry.

My television story is above and my webstory can be found here. It ran on Thanksgiving Day, a little less than a week before the new rules go into effect. I enjoyed getting to do this story because I spent some time with the material and found the best way to present it to the public. I also had time to establish a firm basis of knowledge and really come to understand what I was writing about (and I started with almost no knowledge of the trucking industry!). I learned that while I don't enjoy day-turn stories, I did like this long-form reporting and producing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One Last Reporting Shift

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I got cleared officially to switch to producing! More details about my last reporting shift coming later...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boonville's Kemper Village Homes

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I learned this week how public officials avoid reporters. I called Boonville's mayor and city administrator every hour, for six hours and every time they were "busy" or "out of the office." I even tried the mayor's home phone! I sat at City Hall for 30 minutes waiting for the city administrator to return from lunch to confirm information (I wrote my story while I waited) and he managed to still slip around me. I ended up finding a councilman's address in the phone book, calling him (no answer), and going to his house - that's how I got my comment! The city administrator ended up calling me back when I back at KOMU, so I got my information confirmed before it went on-air.

Reporting this story was bittersweet yet exciting at the same time. Bittersweet because it was my last reporting shift and exciting because it was my last reporting shift! Next week, I start learning to produce!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bridge Repair Affecting Local Business Owner

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This week I learned the true definition of being a persistent journalist. I was working on this story about bridges being replaced and was trying to find a way to humanize it. B&B Auto Body Inc. was located about one mile from the bridge so I headed over there after I talked with the engineer and construction crew working on the bridge. The owner, Paul Beeler, was not at the office but left his phone number. He answered when I called and said he'd be back in about 45 minutes. I maximized my time to go shoot a stand-up and headed back to the shop. He called saying he'd be later than he thought. I was bummed I couldn't interview him because his view would be the strongest about how the bridge closing is going to affect the people around it. I went to New Franklin, the nearest town, but everyone I talked to said they did not use the bridge. I called Paul back and told him I could meet him wherever he was and I only needed 10 minutes of his time. He agreed and said he'd be back at the shop in a half hour. I got there 15 minutes early and he was there so we did the interview. He had never been on camera before but he was a natural! He wasn't nervous, spoke in short, concise sentences that were easily used as soundbites and even provided me with a few nat pops. I couldn't have been happier that I was persistent with getting an interview with him.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Breaking News and Live Shot Experience

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I was on my way to talk to people in Columbia's parks about how they celebrate Labor Day. I got a call from the station and was told to go to the scene of a shooting in Columbia. I had to quickly recall everything I'd learned about shooting breaking news. I got as many shots of the scene and police as possible. Then I started talking to the neighbors that were hanging around. Many of them refused to even let me ask them what they saw happen. The ones who would say something couldn't be convinced to go on camera. I waited about 2.5 hours for the Columbia Police Department's Crime Scene/Forensics Team to show up and then left. The body of the man who was killed was still in the apartment. The station said we would not use that video so I did not need to stay to get it.

There was a press conference at 3:30 p.m. and another reporter went to get the details on the shooting while I put together my live shot. I have never gone on during the newscast live so I was so nervous! When I got back to the scene of the crime, all the neighbors were still camped outside, but had brought out their lawn chairs. They watched as I did my live shot and were still hanging out as I was leaving after my live shot.

I had to tie back my hair because it was so windy it kept blowing into my face! It was exciting to do the live shot but so nerve-wracking! I knew I knew the information so I went with it and did my best!

**UPDATE: I was excited to learn today (9/10/10) that part of my live shot from this story was used in a KOMU-8 promotion that aired during the TODAY show!! The promotion used clips from the latest, important stories to entice viewers to watch our nightly newscasts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Library To Go Program

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Daniel Boone Regional Library launched their "Library To Go" pilot program near Hallsville on Monday, August 30th (link). Patrons in Northern Boone County can reserve library books and materials online or over the phone. The items will be placed in a system of lockers at Ed's Quik Stop. The locker opens with the patron's library card. The library is looking to expand to Holts Summit but needs a location.

My b-roll would have been better if more patrons with reserved library books had been present at the ribbon cutting ceremony. It would have given me more opportunities to take video of the lockers being used.

I learned the value of a light during this reporting shift. The gas station where I shot most of my video is a dark location. The light helped brighten up the general b-roll shots. But when the light was used in a close-up shot, it turned the shot a light blue-ish color. It is an LED light so it has a blue tinge already. When it hit the semi-reflective surface of a DVD case, the case glowed a little blue. The light made Kathy Casey's shot seem a little blue, too. If I had known this when I was shooting, I would have only turned on one ring of lights instead of the two rows.

This reporting shift was out of the ordinary too because a girl was shadowing me. I showed her the ropes of how to go about a reporting shift and gave her some tips that I learned the hard way. She seemed to absorb everything I was telling her and was generally excited about reporting. I am excited to see what she does during her shifts. There are so many short cuts and details that I now automatically do. Having to slow down and explain every little detail really made me realize how much I learned in Broadcast 2 this summer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Effects of Egg Recall on Local Producers

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On Monday, August 23rd, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with statuses and tweets about "first day of class" or "last first day of class ever!!" I was different: I was tweeting about how the egg recall is effecting local egg producers. It was my first reporting shift of the semester (link) and I got to hang out with chickens!

Dave Todd and his daughter raise chickens and sell their eggs at the Columbia Farmer's Market. Dave sells eggs during the week and his daughter goes to the Saturday market. Todd Farm also produces flowers and vegetables for the farmer's market too. When I gave Dave a call about coming out to interview him and see his farm, he was excited to share his story. His wife, Caroline, was also helpful because she works for the Columbia Farmer's Market. I felt like I had hit the jackpot: two sources in one location! Dave and Caroline told me how all egg producers sold out on Saturday. The egg producers had sold twice as many eggs as normal - 500 dozen! When I asked to go in the hen house to get video of where the chickens lay their eggs, I was denied. Dave explained that the camera, tripod or I could contaminate the hen house and cause his chickens to get sick. While I was disappointed to not get that video, I was also reassured in his abilities as an egg producer who cared for his animals.


I then met with Jo Manhart, Director of the Missouri Egg Council. When I identified myself and asked for an interview, she replied, "Oh good! I was started to feel neglected on this egg recall business because no one has asked for an interview with me and usually I'm one of the first person called! And you're lucky too - I'm going out of town for two weeks soon so you could have missed me! When can you come today? I'm free all day!" Between my phone call and my interview time, she went home to get her "Egg Lady Shirt" and hard boil some eggs to show me. She could not have been more enthusiastic about eggs and making sure I had the correct information.

With both the Todds and Manhart, I found how much easier it is to do a story when neither source needs convincing and have a relatively free schedule! I know that this is not a regular occurrence but I was happy to have it happen on my first day back in the swing of things.

Monday, June 28, 2010

TODAY Show Morning News Cut-ins

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Cut-ins Monday, June 28, 2010

I anchored this morning's news cut-ins during the TODAY Show. I took my professor's critique from my last cut-ins and tried to improve my anchoring. It was a different experience this morning because the recorder stopped working after we had recorded all of the cut-ins. We had to do every cut-in live. Surprisingly, I seem to stumble over words less when I know I'm live on-air. The video above has my clips in it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

AP Green Reopens as Mid America Brick

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Mid America Brick Breaks Ground

I spent my third reporting shift in Mexico, MO (6/25/10). The AP Green plant, which made bricks from 1910-2002, reopened as Mid America Brick. This was my first experience reporting a press conference. I had to pick and choose which speakers to record because I didn't have enough memory card space to record the 1.5 hour long program. And I certainly didn't want to have to wade through it all when I got back to the station.

I started talking to a nice, older woman. Her late husband worked for the factory for 42 years. She provided a central character and personalized how important this factory was to the community. The interview was amazing because all I did was asked her, "Can you explain to me your husband's experience at the factory?" She talked for 10 minutes, answering every question I was planning on asking and she didn't ramble. I was amazed.

I seem to lean toward stories that are an hour away from the station. Once again, planning the story on the recorder in my iPhone helped me write faster when I got back to the station. Above is the package I shot, wrote and edited (link to web story).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Glasgow Flood Stories

Sewage Lagoons


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Glasgow Sewage Lagoons


Last Friday (6/18/10), I completed my first reporting shift at KOMU 8 News. I went to Glasgow, MO (about 1 hour from Columbia, MO) to report on the Missouri River flooding. I called the police chief who told me the town wasn't threatened because it's on a hill. He mentioned that the lagoon was underwater. I asked why that was important, because I was thinking of a lagoon in the sense of the ocean. He told me it is a sewage lagoon and it was leaking raw sewage into Hurricane Creek, which flows back to the Missouri River. I immediately knew this would be the focus of my story. The superintendent of the Public Works Department spent a majority of the afternoon showing a convergence reporter (who was taking still photos) and me around the three lagoons that make up the sewage lagoons of Glasgow. The video above is the package I shot, wrote, and edited for the 6 p.m. newscast. I also wrote and edited 2 VO/SOT/VOs and a web story (link).



Farm Crops

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Glasgow Crops Flooded


The flood waters were expected to recede by this past Tuesday (6/22/10), my second reporting shift. Instead, the water had actually gone up. I did a follow-up story about how the crops were underwater (a detail I remembered from my trip to Glasgow on Friday). A friend of mine who grew up on a farm gave me some background information on farming and crops. This helped me ask more informed questions. He told me it would be hard to find a farmer who would be willing to get out of their tractor for an interview right now because it's a busy season on the farm. This turned out to be vital information because I asked the superintendent if he knew a farmer who wasn't working because his crops were underwater. He knew one and thankfully, the farmer agreed to show me his farm! I contacted seven organizations related to farming and none would agree to an interview. I had run out of time and returned to the station to use the farmer and National Weather Service as my sources. I shot, wrote and edited a VO/SOT/VO for the 10 p.m. newscast, a package for the KOMU 8 News Today show (above), and a web story (link).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scientific American and First Experiences

Journalism Reflection

This is the cover of the June 2010 edition of Scientific American magazine.


I am always attracted to categorical journalism. It doesn't matter if it's Food Network, the History Channel, People Magazine or Runner's World. I love seeing how the producers of these products continually find new ways to discuss the same general idea by exploring different avenues within the field. I decided to expand my horizons and read Scientific American (link).



"From the Editor" (pg 4 or link)


The first major part of the magazine I read was the "From the Editor" letter titled "Think Forward." It surprisingly answered a question I had: "Why can the editors of this magazine be trusted as an authority in science?" As the letter explains, they "go to conferences and meetings, pore over other publications, and routinely confer with our researcher sources and authors." While Mariette DiChristina, the editor, does not explain if the writers have scientific backgrounds, she makes it apparent that they immerse themselves in the topic and consult more than one expert. She goes on to explain how the editors decide what information to publish: they look for what readers need to know now and what might be coming up in the future. Readers of Scientific American feel they can trust the information they get from the magazine because the editor is transparent.



Australopithicus sediba is the latest discovery of ancient remains.

"Fossils of Our Family" (pg 12-14 or link)

Evolution has always been a topic that has interested me. I thought this article about a discovery of a new human species in Malapa Cave, Johannesburg, South Africa did a wonderful job showing the importance of presenting a balanced story. The article first explained what was found in the discovery (partial skeletons of an adult female and juvenile male) and why the discovering scientists think the remains belong in the ancestral line of current humans. After their side of the discovery is given, three different positions are given. In total, four sides are presented and the sources are from four different institutions: University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Stony Brook University, the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, and New York University. The end of the article lets the reader know other remains were found and they are currently being excavated. This informs the reader that more information will be available on this discovery in the near future. While this story follows the basic format of a story, I believe it’s necessary. If the writer had launched right into all the different sides without first explaining what was found and how it is impactful to the scientific community, readers would have been lost.



"Expert Education" (pg 17-18 or link)

This article discusses how geologists and their students are using an eye-tracking device to study the difference in how geologists approach a dig compared to students. They want to use the results to better teach the students perceptual skills. The writer, Charles Q. Choi, mentions that the device could be used in other professions, but doesn’t include journalism. Imagine how this device could change the way journalism students learn the power of observation and photography. Students would be able to see how experienced journalists pick up on environmental and body language clues that help make their story better. They’d also be able to see how good photographers chose the shots they video.




"12 Events That Will Change Everything" (pg 36-48 or link)


The headlining article of this issue covers 12 scientific events and discoveries that have the chance of happening by 2050. Each topic is ranked along a rainbow bar from very unlikely to almost certain. Here they are:


  1. Cloning of a human: Likely
  2. Extra dimensions: 50-50 Chance
  3. Extraterrestrial intelligence: Unlikely
  4. Nuclear exchange: Unlikely
  5. Creation of Life: Almost certain
  6. Room-temperature superconductors: 50-50
  7. Machine self-awareness: Likely
  8. Polar meltdown: Likely
  9. Pacific earthquake: Almost Certain
  10. Fusion energy: Very unlikely
  11. Asteroid collision: Unlikely
  12. Deadly pandemic: 50-50


Each section, written by a different person, gives an overview of the topic and then, most importantly, explains how this event or discovery will affect the world. In my opinion, the section that gives the best real world example is the nuclear exchange article. After explaining how the Hiroshima bomb affected the area, Philip Yam, the writer, moves on to the present-day example of Pakistan and India. Scientists have determined that if the two countries used all their nuclear bombs on each other, about 100 bombs, there will be devastating effects on the Earth. The consequences listed give the reader a vivid image of how the Earth would change. While it’s one of the shorter sections, I thought it was most effective.




"Alzheimer's: Forestalling the Darkness" (pg 51-57 or link)

This article first caught my eye from the cover, which says, “Alzheimer’s Advances: New Keys to Thwarting Dementia.” My family pays close attention to advances in preventing Alzheimer’s because my grandfather died with the disease last year. This article explains how scientists are about to start a research project that will look for a prescription drug to prevent the disease. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can’t be made until symptoms show up. Recent research has shown that the causes of Alzheimer’s are active five to 20 years before the symptoms present themselves. Also, several biomarkers and genetic genes have been singled out to measure Alzheimer’s. The researchers are choosing people with the genetic genes for Alzheimer’s and tracking their biomarkers in an effort to better map when the causes of Alzheimer’s start. With this information, the scientists will know when to start administering the test pharmaceutical drugs. These trials will take time, but hopefully scientists will have some new answers and drugs by the time my parents might suffer from Alzheimer’s. The writers of this article used graphics to better tell their story. One set of graphics shows how the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s will increase over the next 40 years and how age increases the risk of Alzheimer’s for males and females. Another set of graphics explains how brain imaging and spinal fluid tests will help track the progression of Alzheimer’s over the years until physical symptoms are present. A third sidebar gives a list of drugs that are currently being tested and how they try to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. All of this information proves promising and gives me hope that one day this disease won’t affect my loved ones anymore.




Overall, the magazine does a good job of making sure a person with no significant scientific background, such as myself, can understand the article while still giving enough information to satisfy a scientist. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a half-page advertisement for the University of Missouri's graduate program for life sciences.




Personal News Gathering

The logo of the NBC affiliate where I'll be working.

This week marked my first official work at KOMU8 (NBC) in Columbia, MO. After all the hard work and hoops to jump through, it feels great to get to this place in my coursework! And I know it’s not easy from here on out, but there’s a certain element of reward to the hard work when you see your work on air.



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"Tuesdays @ 2"

VO Patrol involves shooting video, writing a 40 second story, editing the video, and writing an online story. I completed my first VO Patrol on Tuesday, June 15, 2010. I went to Jefferson City and followed a “Tuesday’s @ 2” program about Mark Twain and riverboats. The greatest difficulty I had with this story was that the Missouri State Museum was dark. Even with a light, the video turned out dark. My producer and I managed to color correct it so the video was still useable. I enjoyed getting to write and edit my own story and see it broadcast.





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"Nitro Joe"

I finished my second VO Patrol today. I went to the Daniel Boone Regional Library and watched kids be amazed by science experiments. “Nitro Joe” was great at involving the kids and keeping them interested. I think I had as much fun watching the kids and taking video of the program as the kids did watching Nitro Joe’s experiments. He showed the kids physical and chemical reactions. The experiments that went over best were the ones that involved dry ice. Shooting this story really challenged my ability to shoot sequences. Nitro Joe was a roamer: he moved all around and it was hard to catch him doing any repetitive action. I made it work while at the same time wishing I could participate too! (link)



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Cut-ins Tuesday, June 17, 2010

I also anchored my first news cut-ins during the Today Show this morning. It was my first time to be on-air at all, let alone live! I had to learn to do broadcast makeup to do this and it was so thick, I wanted to take it off as soon as possible. I guess it’s something I’ll get used to as I wear it more often. I read the scripts multiple times beforehand, marked my breathing points, and hoped for the best. It went over well with no major mishaps. Overall, I enjoyed the experience but as with everything, practice makes perfect. I’ll be signing up for another cut-in shift soon!


I have my first reporting shift tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to testing the skills I’ve learned so far because I have to get all the interviews and B-roll done, write and edit the package, write and edit the VO/SOT, and write an online story all in one day. For our classwork, we have had to complete this work but we’ve had several days to do it. I’m nervous but ready for the challenge tomorrow. Now, if only I had a story idea…


Friday, June 4, 2010

"60 Minutes" and Photography Lessons

Journalism Reflection

The show uses this ticking stopwatch to start and end every segment.

I watched "60 Minutes" (CBS) on Sunday, May 30. The show broadcasted three stories during the hour-long show. What I found most amazing was that I didn't realize the whole hour had past while watching the program. The storytelling was so powerful that I stayed on the couch and forgot about my typical multi-tasking!


This is a still shot from a video given to the soldier's family by the military. The family shared the video with "60 Minutes."

The first story was a follow-up report about road-side bombs in Afghanistan (watch here). The story was about how servicemen volunteer to be part of the team that looks for roadside bombs. The most striking line in the story was when they related that this team risks their lives to disarm a bomb that cost $10 US to make. They could lose their life over $10 but the possibility of saving other soldiers' lives is what drives them forward. A nat pop helped show the team's relief that none of them were injured when a bomb exploded. But not every expedition is so lucky. A service memorialized all the military personnel who had lost their lives disarming road-side bombs. The way the ceremony was included in the story made it extremely memorable. The dead soldiers' names were announced by military branch. The audio was the soldier's name, and the visuals were split-screen between a photo of the person and the video of the officer reading names. It demonstrated how every branch of the military was affected and how many soldiers gave their lives to save others. It was much more effective at showing their sacrifice than just saying that a certain number of men had died while disarming bombs.

This is what DNA looks like up close and personal.

The second story (watch here) was about how researchers are trying to gather DNA for animal species that are extinct and are almost extinct. They want to be able to preserve the DNA. The end result would be implanting that DNA into a similar animal, who would act as a surrogate. They've successfully done this process with African wild cat DNA implanted in a house cat. In this story they used nat pops to show how excited children got when they imagined dinosaurs. The nat pop really helped bring the story to life and show just how exciting it would be to bring dinosaurs back!


This is Anna Wintour with Morley Safer, who reported the story.

The third story was about Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue magazine for the last 22 years (watch here). It was a profile story about her that focused on her trying to dispute the implied image of her in "The Devil Wears Prada". The show included very little footage of her smiling, which was opposite what she was trying to prove. I found this to be the weakest segment of the show because it was a profile, with no real news value. Maybe I would have appreciated the piece more if I was a devoted reader of Vogue.


Personal News Gathering Experience


I've worked on several stories in the time since my last blog. Here are several things that I learned about shooting video:


Sky is an energetic puppy who loves to chase people. In this photo, she's chasing a skateboarder (not seen).

1. Dogs are incredibly hard to photograph as your central compelling character (CCC) - especially when the puppy's only 6 months old and an avid runner! I was working a story about why it's important to microchip pets. I wanted to make the dog, a Siberian Husky named Skye, the CCC because she is going to be microchipped in June. Granted, I couldn't get her to do an interview, but her owner acted as her voice. But the shooting process got difficult when I was trying to get some B-roll of Skye. I found myself with a lot of shots of Skye running and not many cutaways. Dogs aren't like humans. Human actions are semi-predictable, but picking the next direction a dog is going to run is next to impossible!


When I used this shot in my package, I mentioned how roundabouts are better for the environment.

2. Angles help make the story more visually interesting. I was working on a story about roundabouts. Creating a CCC is troublesome when reporting about inanimate objects. I knew most of my video would be of roundabouts. It would get boring if all the video was on the same plane of view. So to mix it up, I shot video from the ground of cars driving past me and framed a yield sign between some of the flowers that were planted at the base of the sign. As my professor says, the camera needs to "take the viewer where the eye doesn't go."


3. Cutaways are important to remember to shoot. When I'm rushed to photograph a story and the interviewee is following me or showing me the item to shoot, I get nervous. Then I forget to shoot cutaways. I get the close-up shots, but they still manage to have the interviewee's hands in them. But now that I recognize this as a problem, I can fix it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Joint Newsrooms and Mid-MO GM Dealerships

Journalism Reflection

In Tyler, Texas, CBS19 (KYTX) has partnered with the Tyler Morning Telegraph newspaper, essentially creating one newsroom in two locations. The joint operation happened over a handshake – and it’s a successful venture. The philosophy is basically, “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” The two news outlets aim for team coverage and share story ideas, information and reporters. Here’s a quick summary of how it operate:

- CBS19 gives the Telegraph weather to print in the paper.
- CBS19 reporters turn their stories into another version to be printed in the Telegraph.
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Telegraph reporters appear one or two times in live hits during CBS19's 6pm hour-long newscast and once during the 10pm newscast.
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Telegraph reporters also come to CBS19 for segments on CBS19 This Morning and the 5pm newscasts.
- The newsrooms run parallel contests, promotions, and polls.

With this exchange of stories and ideas, the two outlets miss “very very little,” according CBS19’s News Director Dan Delgado. They cover more stories because they share information if one outlet can't make it to the story. The managing editor of the Telegraph and the Assignment Desk Manager at CBS19 speak six to eight times per day, making sure everyone has information on the latest happenings in Tyler.

They’re even creating some joint projects. The two sports departments are working on a website (www.ETfinalscore.com) that focuses solely on high school sports (a big part of life in East Texas).

A second project will start in June. University of North Texas journalism students will be spending three weeks in Tyler researching obesity. Their work on fitness’ relationship to obesity will be featured in a 30 minute special on CBS19 and a magazine published through the Telegraph. This is a unique project because both the City of Tyler and Smith County are supporting it.

A recent example of the news collaboration is the reporting on a capital murder trial of a man accused of killing a 13-month-old baby in 2008 (story). A Telegraph reporter has been present in the courtroom during the trial. He calls in during CBS19’s newscasts and gives a daily update. CBS19 can’t be at the trial daily so this helps cover the trial, which is important to their viewers. At the end of the Telegraph reporter's phoner, the CBS19 anchors tell viewers to check out the reporter's blog on the Telegraph website, which he updates multiple times daily.

We’re told by our professors not to let the newspaper be the source for our stories. But, with this arrangement the ideas are shared before they’re printed in the paper. It allows both news outlets to keep their viewers or readers better informed. For example, let’s say one person reads the Telegraph more frequently than they watch the news. What if the Telegraph misses a major story because a source only tipped off CBS19? This partnership lets CBS19 clue the Telegraph in on the scoop. The reader won’t miss out on a story affecting his community because he’ll receive the information in the paper. Without the partnership, he could have been at least a day behind on the big news.

I see this as an innovative experiment in newsroom story sharing. It’s so unusual because of their free exchange deal. It lets each newsroom cover more stories without overreaching their monetary resources. CBS19 and the Tyler Morning Telegraph are exploring the option before most markets are even considering it. I think that due to the economy and the general public’s desire to know more about their community, more markets will be turning to this solution.

Personal News Gathering Process

One of the big news stories this week was that General Motors Corp. announced it earned a profit in the first quarter of 2010. This is the first time a profit has been reported since the second quarter of 2007. I wanted to localize this story to the mid-Missouri area.



Bob McCosh Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership is located on Business Loop 70 in Columbia, MO.


I started by interviewing the sales manager at the Bob McCosh Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership. He told me how McCosh was doing well and how GM’s bankruptcy affected the dealership. But he did not want me to talk to a customer. Instead I interviewed a sales consultant who was first a customer at McCosh and then decided to apply to become an employee due to her positive experience.

After I completed this reporting, it became apparent that the finished story would sound like an advertisement for the McCosh dealership. I needed to expand my focus. Two hours of Google searching later, I identified a GM dealership, Royal Automotive, that was closed during the bankruptcy process in Fulton, and the name and home address for the owner, but no phone number. I wanted to interview him, so I took a chance and knocked on the door of his home in Fulton.

While I was in Fulton, I took the opportunity to shoot a stand-up showing Royal Automotive’s empty parking lot.


The owner of Royal Automotive now spends his time working on his lawn.


The owner was animated and answered every question I asked. He had strong opinions about how GM handled the shut-down of dealerships. I think he was so open with me because no one had asked him how the wind down process affected him personally. He was also told me how the forced closing of his dealership affected the Fulton community.

During reporting for this whole story, I learned that persistence in finding a source and a little courage to knock on a door can pay off by providing a good central compelling character. Also, I found out that sometimes people want to be asked how the event made them feel, not about the event specifically. It can lead to great quotes and make them trust you because it shows you care.