Posted 04/30/2012: Monday wrote most of my feature story into the MDN News Editor. It was intriguing to learn about the amount of organizations fighting for the rights of the less fortunate in Missouri since Missouri is known for not having stellar benefits for the lower class.
My interview with Don Quinn from Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW) turned out great and it opened my eyes to the work being done to improve government's outlook on helping the poor.
Quinn was cheerful and eager to help cracking jokes during our interview and says he hopes that leaders in Missouri stand up for social welfare and get the people to understand that nothing is free.
On Wednesday, covered a story on a House Sub Committee on elections hearing a bill that would put limitations on voter registration. The bill would require all registers to provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship in Missouri. After strong opposition came forward to testify claiming it would be an insult to naturalized citizens the committee still passed the bill.
Thursday at the state Capital I shot interviews with Rep. Cookson and PROMO Executive Directer A.J Bockelman, and even got coverage of them confronting one another, in a civil manner of course.
Cookson touched on the backlash his bill and himself have gotten saying he even got hate mail threatening his family.
Bockelman was at the capital to follow up with the status of the bill and said it was offensive to the LGBTQ community.
It was a breakthrough as a reporter to get such footage on a controversial issue having the heads of each side talking to one another, it definitely was a confidence booster and reiterated the importance of being at the right place at the right time.
This week I created at package for my Broadcast One class about the tanning bill that could make it impossible for minors under the age of (15) to use indoor tanning beds, also require parent signature for those under the age of (18).
To complete this package I interviewed Rep. Jay Barnes, R- Jefferson City and Rep. Mary Still, D- Boone County, both who had scares with skin cancer.
Barnes was adament that minors need these types of decsions made for them just like tabacco and alcohol laws.
Still said this bill is very close to her and she is sensative to the need for a new law to protect Missouri's kids.
I also interviewed a girl who works and tans at a indoor tanning salon where parent permission is already a rule. Minors need a parent signature to tan except if the customer is 16 or older they can come in one time without a parent and tan for half the limit.
Meaning most level one beds have a 20 minute incubation limit so without parents consent you can only tan for a maximum of ten minute. But the second time the customer comes in they must have consent.
Although, I did not get to interview with Rep. Ray Weter, R- Nixa one on one, he was quoted saying he does not believe the law is acceptable because it isn't representative's job to tell parents how to raise their kids.
In the end, I got an interview set up for my feature story and was able to narrow my angle on the story.
On Monday, Missouri Employers Mutual had their hearing with a house committee to try and resolve their status as a private or public insurance company. The company was accused of taking advantage of their federal tax break, by spending lavish amounts of money on corporate trips and gold outings. Similar insurance companies came to testify for MEM warning the committe to take their time and do thorough research on the decision. They planned to meet again, and no action was taken.
On Wednesday, the Capitol was packed full of special needs and disabled people rallying for more funding to be approved in the upcoming budget. Surprisingly, Gov. Jay Nixon made an appearance and addressed the group.
Also Central Missouri Congresswoman Hartzler held a roundtable to discuss the future of Missouri's military bases if a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) commission that could pull federal funding from the state Military. Many testimonies were given to stress the importance of the two military bases in Missouri and their crucial part to national security.
After covering this story I learned it was very important to always have a mic on me, because I missed statements from Hartzler that could have enhanced my story.
Next week I will be working on my feature story conducting two more interviews with social services and food stamp recipients.
Monday I went to the state auditor's news conference where he released the audit of a state funded insurance company that was started up to create affordable workers comp for small businesses. Apparently the company has been spending money for lavish trips and golf outings for their employees which is not aloud in public companies. Even though the company believes they should be able to spend their money on whatever they please even to political parties. In the audit it was found that $8,000 was given to the Missouri Democratic Party and is now being investigated by the FBI, which is quite scandalous for a Missouri company.
On Wednesday I did a follow up on the filing status on some of the senators, I tried to find the "news" in the story and was able to find that Senator Jane Cunningham filed a lawsuit against the new redistricting maps that got rid of her St. Louis county district seven which was moved across the state to a Kansas City based district. Also that Senator Lembke is still planning on filing once a map is approved even if it forces him to run against a fellow Republican incumbent.
This week I also started to do research on a feature about bullying legislation along with how welfare precipitants feel about being drug tested to receive their benefits. I plan on going to a local business in Columbia to talk to welfare recipients about the subject, I'm still deciding how to approach the subject without offending anyone. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or feel that I am accusing them of any illegal acts.
Hopefully next week I can come up with some good questions and plan my feature story out to be as informative as it can be.
This week was cut short because of the snowfall on Monday, but on Wednesday made up for it.
I attended a House Healthcare Policy Committee hearing about regulating tanning facilities and an age limit proposition. At the hearing two separate bills were presented at once where witnesses all spoke in favor of both bills. There surprisingly was no opposition of the bills except the public defense attorney's office wanted the legislators to remove the charge of a class c misdemeanor to violators. Apparently the public defense attorney's office is overwhelmed with cases and are concerned that the state will have to foot the bill on violates who can't afford lawyers. Also class c misdemeanors require 15 days in jail, which is also costly to the state.
When writing my radio news stories I covered my first wrap on Rep. Cross's want for tanning facilities to require parental consent for those under eighteen. It was interesting to hear that Cross's own daughter was a frequent indoor tanner and now has pre-cancerous moles on her body. Cross says this is part of the reason why he is sponsoring this bill.
My next wrap I focused on the other bill by Rep. Barnes. His bill prohibits anyone under the age of 15 from using a tanning bed. I laughed at how angry those toddlers in tiara moms were gonna be when they found out they couldn't subject their daughters to anymore abuse. All well. But according to testimony witnesses said that young women between the ages of 10-21 are more susceptible to skin cancer which I found very interesting. Also it was scary how high the percent of melanoma cases there are for indoor tanners compared to those who have never stepped into a tanner bed.
The third wrap included the only opposition at the hearing from the state public defenders office and how changes will be made to the bills thanks to their plea. Money sure does talk.
Anyways, Josie got some great stuff from local tanning salons, although none seemed too worried about the legislations since they already have their own regulations.
This weekend I hopefully will be back in Columbia on time to make it to Phill's lunch... plus I really want to see that dang porch I keep hearing about :)
Well that was overwhelming -- the first thought after my first day at MDN. The full tour, and sitting in on a 3 hour long Senate attribution meeting really can take a lot out of a girl, but it didn't scare me off. Everyone I met in the office seemed very down to earth and eager to help. I definitely did not expect for the veterans of MDN to want to deal with a newbie like me.
During day 2, while walking into the building Joe and Cole asked me if I heard about the cross hair stickers and I literally had no idea what they were talking about. But as we walked into the office Joe and I jumped right in and started researching and reporting a follow up on this story. We couldn't believe that the incident happened right up the stairs with no witnesses. Five Democratic Senators found cross hair stickers on their doors, and then after being taken down they were replaced with larger ones. The odd thing about it is that one representative who is a republican also received a cross hair on his door. As much as I wanted to speculate the weird coincidences between all of the six legislators I had to remember as a journalist I needed to find the cold hard facts. Reporting and interviewing was fun, Joe and I strategized when and where to contact our sources and tried our best not to annoy their staffs. We took turns interviewing everyone and with each interview gained perspective of how we wanted to frame our stories. Although, I was chosen to write a print story on the matter rather than radio but it came to my advantage because I got to use multiple quotes instead of one single sound bite, which was great since the material we recorded was awesome. After completing my story I received a call from the Columbia Missourian asking if that could use my story on their website and have one of their reporters contribute. This was very exciting that my first story at MDN was going to be published elsewhere. Not all news outlets could get down to the capitol to do reports on the story so I was happy I could help a fellow journalist produce the news. I'm also very excited to continue my work at MDN and am looking forward to what the future has to teach me.
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.