Allie Spillyards

Allie Spillyards

My name is Allie Spillyards. I was born and raised in Wylie, Texas, a little suburb north of Dallas.

I am now a sophomore at the University of Missouri majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. Here, I have been thrown into the rapidly developing world of media and I fall more in love everyday. I have spent the past year working at KOMU-8 news in Columbia. After starting out as a production assistant, editing video for the evening news, I have worked to learn as much as I possibly can. I have anchored, reported, and even done some web shifts. I am now excited to add capitol reporting to my experience as a reporter for Missouri Digital News.

Follow me on Twitter: @alliespillyards.



Stories by Allie Spillyards in 2010 include:
Allie Spillyards's Blog in 2010
Sharing their stories

Posted 04/28/2010: 

Today I was sent to do a feature story. While some reporters would have been disheartened to be sent out on a "soft-news" story, I loved today's assignment. Over 100 War World Two veterans crowded into the Capitol today to be recognized for their service and recent Honor Flight experience. This is a program here in Mid-Missouri that raises money to send veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the WWII memorial. After watching the men recognized on the house floor, I followed them to a short reception and lunch in the rotunda. The fact they were at the Capitol itself wasn't so interesting, so my goal was to hear their stories. I must have spoken with more than 10 men. Most were interested in the fact I was a reporter, and they wanted to share. The biggest challenge was convincing them that their story was interesting and that others wanted to hear it. At one point, an Honor Flight volunteer helped me by introducing me to veterans she knew loved to talk. One man she introduced me to was slightly difficult to open up, but once he began sharing his memories with me, he broke down into tears. This is the first time I have witnessed such emotion during an interview. I know it can happen, but I wasn't expecting it. I am an emotional person myself, and it took everything in me to remain composed as I listened to his memories flood back. He told me he never spoke about these experiences until he was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago. I felt so privileged to hear about this part of this man's life. Today reinforced my decision to seek a career as a reporter. I am fascinated by people and love to hear and tell their stories. 


Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


Red Light Funds
Posted 04/14/2010: 

Red light cameras have been a popular topic this legislative session. Next on the agenda, where should the money go?

Today I attended a House committee hearing where one Missouri Representative proposed legislation that would give all funds from red light camera fines to school districts. He said he was aiming to stop "big brother" policies. When it was time for supporters to come forward, he was alone. The committee quickly moved to the opposition which claimed the city needed the money to pay for the cameras. It was a pretty quick and concise meeting, but I'll still be interested to see where the bill goes next.

Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


Spring Break
Posted 03/23/2010:  Today was a quiet day at the Capitol. The legislature was on spring break so there wasn't much for us to report. The building resembled a ghost town so I stayed out of the eerily creepy halls and worked on my enterprise story from the comforts of the newsroom. I organized and researched sources, and then I prepared to make phone calls. I managed to speak with a pharmacist in Washington, Missouri where Sudafed now requires a prescription. He told me that while the pharmacy has lost a little business, the customers who now go elsewhere for the medications aren't the type they'd like in the store. He believes the policy is effective, but without a widespread ban, individuals are willing to travel a small distance for what may be their meth supplies.

I have a few more people to contact and some more research to do, but I think my story now has more of a focus.

Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


A hot topic on the House floor
Posted 03/16/2010:  Today I covered the House. I'm becoming really comfortable with the process, which makes me think I need to move on to the Senate soon. Today's topic: health care. It's an issue that's sure to stir drama. Today was the third reading of a joint resolution that would allow Missourian's to reject the federal health care policy, if passed. It's an interesting topic, and a few other states have looked to pass similar legislation. Democrats argued that this willcause strife with the federal goverment, if not lawsuits. They reasoned that if they, as state officials, could be trusted to do what's right for their constituents, the federal goverment could too. Republicans, on the other hand, called this an issue of liberty. They want to provide the freedom of choice to Missourians. Throughout the debate, both sides slightly veered off of the topic of health care and onto a debate of the duties of goverment.The measure was talked until either side had nothing further to say. In the end, it was approved with an almost 2 to 1 vote. Next up, the resolution will be voted on by the Senate. If approved their, a statewide vote will take place. This will be an interesting topic to follow.

Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


A slow news day
Posted 02/23/2010: 

It's hard to imagine that a day can pass with little accomplished here at the Capitol, but today was proof that it can happen. I set off for the house this morning. We went through the daily initial protocol: announcements, introductions, a prayer, the pledge... and then adjourned. We were in and out in 10 minutes. On to the next story, I suppose. I then accompanied another reporter to a long and tedious house budget hearing, but in the end we decided only one of us would need to cover it. Another try. A print reporter and I attended a hearing for low income housing tax credits. Unfortunately, the hearing turned out to be little more than an exiting commissioners final stance on the past 2 decade's work.

After 3 attempts to find a story, I settled for work on my enterprise. I will now be working a feature about prescriptions for Sudafed. I am waiting for hearings to be scheduled on the 3 bills pertaining to over the counter drugs and meth, but I hope to have more soon.

Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


How much is a life?
Posted 03/02/2010: 

Today was a rough day of reporting. After sitting in the house and hearing nothing of great importance, I went to a house committee hearing on carbon dioxide sequestration. Basically, a company wants to inject a soda grade carbon dioxide gas 2000 feet under the ground in Greene County. It's a sustainability measure, and many think it could save the state an invaluable sum down the road. Today's discussion, however, focused on the project and the workers involved. Right now, the bill calls for limited liability. The limitation is set at $300,000 for an individual. Many in the committee were bothered, some even insulted by the price given to the life of a human being. Others focused on the need for liability and sovereign immunity. They argued that if the pressure of the injection is low, and the surface level pressure is low, there should be little risk. The opposition pointed out that the fact that Missouri is cavernous with a significant fault line running through it.With the country's focus on green house gasses and global warming, this was undoubtably a controversial and hot topic. Many committee members were very passionate about various aspects of this bill, and representatives from the company veered away from liability questions. As far as I can tell, there is a lot more discussion to be done.

Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


First day in the house
Posted 02/16/2010:  Today was my first day to cover the house. I had been warned it was tricky to identify who was speaking, and that rang true.

After introductions of the days guests, house bill 1675 was presented for perfection. Representative Noltes from Clay sponsored the bill. It provides tax credits for manufacturing plants. Noltes was presenting an amendment to clean up the language of the bill to allow it to better retain jobs. The bill is geared specifically at the auto industry. Supporters of the amendment argued that a move like this is needed to allow Missouri to compete with other states for manufacturing plants which provide jobs for thousands. A few opponents worried that because the bill doesn't focus solely on Missouri owned plants, just Missouri jobs, it won't benefit all Missouri citizens.

The next issue on the agenda was one that's been highly anticipated. House bills 1311 and 1341 will ensure that children with autism receive heath care coverage for behavior treatment. A large majority of the house seemed to agree that it was a needed bill, but they disagreed on the details. The original bill was to provide coverage until children are 21, but one opponent wanted to shorten the coverage until the age of 18 and another 15. Within those amendments for change, the cap for the amount of coverage was also debated. After a little under an hour of discussion, the house took a recess, planning to reconvene later in the evening. I ended up writing a couple of wraps about the preliminary discussion while another reporter covered the meeting later that night along with the discussion. For those of you wondering, the bill passed a preliminary vote in the house with a $34K camp for those 18 and under.


Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


A long but rewarding day
Posted 02/02/2010:  Day number 2 at the Capitol already felt more comfortable. I got lost a little less (it's a big place for a directionally challenged person to master!), and I was a little faster in the entire reporting, writing, and producing process. I even finished early enough to cover 2 stories.

I started my day off by attending a press conference in Senator Bill Stouffer's office. He spoke about his support in a resolution to urge U.S. Congress members to ignore the plea Obama made last week to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The press conference was brief, but I was amazed by the flurry of controversy that swirled all morning about his motivations. It was quite the introduction to the world of politics.  After cranking out 3 wraps, I was sent off to a Senate Committee hearing about franchise law reform for the auto industry. This was a much longer hearing than my first as car dealers took turns coming forward to address the committee with anecdotes and concerns about working with manufacturers. Only one spoke in opposition to the bill. The interesting angle of this story.... the Republican Senators sitting on the committee told the car dealers to group together and solve the problem on their own. The senators expressed their concern that the government couldn't help. Definitely not what I would've expected to hear.

I have already learned so much in my week and a half at MDN. Although I have had experience as a TV reporter, I think writing for radio is strengthening my reporting skills at an even faster rate. The words and content of the story become so much more important when you lose the visual element of TV news. I'm loving every minute of this experience so far, and I can't wait to see what follows!


Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


First day as a Capitol reporter
Posted 1/28/2010:  Today was my first day at the state capitol in Jefferson City. I have to admit I was nervous for my first shift reporting for radio. 

I came in about an hour and a half early to cover an 8 a.m. senate committee hearing. Republican Senator Jane Cunningham is sponsoring a bill that essentially allows Missouri to opt out of any future federal health care plan. Because health care is a controversial topic all across the nation right now, it was a really interesting story to cover and a great way to start out my career at MDN. I wrote two radio wraps (2 versions of the story for all you non-radio people out there) about those in support of the bill and those against it. Senator Cunningham spoke of the choice the bill would provide Missourians with. It would allow them to join in federal health care reform, or continue using the insurance they have now. On the opposition, a Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson said that some Missourians won't receive health care if this is passed. The discussion ended within an hour and the committee has yet to vote on the proposed bill.

I also got to choose my first enterprise piece for the semester. Soon, I will be working on a story about home schooling parity in Missouri. More to come on that soon!

Overall, it was an exciting day and I'm looking forward to the many more that will follow!


Reporting from the Capitol...

-Allie


[Missouri Digital News is supported by the Missouri School of Journalism (home of the The Journalist's Creed), the Missouri Press Association, and KMOX Radio in St. Louis.