Joe Chiodo is a junior broadcast journalism major and double political science and business minor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His interest in politics and passion for news writing and reporting brought him to Missouri Digital News.
Joe came to the Missouri School of Journalism in August 2009 from Pittsburgh, PA. His desire to have a career in broadcasting began after taking an interest in local news and working for his high school's morning news program.
Joe has worked as a multi-media journalist for KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia, since January 2010. At KOMU, he works as a general assignment reporter, anchor, web editor, and production assistant. During the summer of 2011, Joe worked as a Broadcast Assistant for KMOV-TV, the CBS affiliate in St. Louis, where he wrote and produced multi-media stories for KMOV.com, worked alongside reporters and anchors, and helped with production of Great Day St. Louis.
Joe is looking forward to this year's legislative session and is excited to learn more about Missouri politics. He is always looking for story ideas and any information about what's happening in the mid-Missouri area. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted 05/11/2012: The legislative session if finally coming to an end here at the Capitol. As things wrap up, I have been working on a bug feature story relating to how the warm weather has effected their arrival. This is the first time in decades that the past four consecutive months have been this warm. Due to this the bugs are coming out early...but not everyone is upset about it.
While working on the story I talked to many people who had seen increasing problems with bugs in their yards. Lawn care specialists say bugs such as ants are the most prominent so far. While people suffer with the problem, specialists say business has correlated with the early arrival.
Next week, I plan to talk to farmers to get their reaction. I am curious to see what this has done for their business and the detrimental effects it could cause. I realized this week it is important to get reaction from many people, as the story will relate to your audience in a number of different ways, with those people having different perspectives.
My hearing was not scheduled until 6:00 p.m. (later pushed back until 8 because the Senate went long), so with time in between I made some calls and talked to some people who knew more about the bill. I learned the reason for the importance of the bill (despite how strange it sounds) deals with proposition B. I looked more into what Prop-B was, because I wasn't that familiar and immediately realized this would be the spin I took on my stories.
Nothing came of the hearing, but I learned that supporters of the bill feel animals in enclosed places such as sea world are crafting the language to prevent them from getting abused. Animal rights activists, however, feel that the language could actually increase animal abuse.
I am interested in looking more into this story this week. Stay tuned to see if one day, people could "lose" their power over their pets.
The hardest part of completing my story was getting in contact with all of my sources. There were several senators/representatives I would have loved to talk to, but unfortunatley, they were not available. Some didn't want tot discuss the matter, while others didn't have time. The situation taught me that when you are on deadline, sometimes you cannot achieve your ideal story. There is a difference between a good story and an ideal story--in the world of journalism ideal isn't always feasible.
It was interesting to hear people's opinions on the matter. The biggest opinion dealt with the battle between limiting funding for education and keeping tobacco tax at the current amount. The debate heard throughout the entire semester taught me that people will never 100% agree on something, and that it is important ot not choose a side on a certain matter. As a journalist we have the responsibility to remain unbiased at all times.
ALEC is a national conservative activism group that promotes the adoption of free-market legislation in state houses across the country, including Missouri. Now, however, Missouri conservatives are displaying their support for ALEC, despite major US corporations ending their ties with the organization. Before the meeting happened, I had hopes there would be debate and back and forth questioning. The meeting turned out to be rather dry, though, as Progress Missouri simply encouraged conservative members to end their ties with the organization. The conservatives for the most part did not fight back, leaving nothing to report on.
While I had big expectations for the meeting, it did not turn out that way. I came back to the newsroom and went through the audio to see if anything could be turned into a wrap or two. There ended up being nothing worthwhile to cover, but I did learn to research more thoroughly before going to a movie and additionally that although you may not always be successful in finding a story...journalism manages to keep you on your toes.
It's about mid semester now and my time at MDN has been flying by. I can say that I have learned beyond what I expected and my writing skills have improved tremendously. I'm now working on perfecting my interviewing skills and trying to find a focus for each story.
This was an extremely busy week for me at the capitol. I covered a heaing on Monday regarding making primaries in Missouri closed. The concept seems seems simple: you can only take a ballot that corresponds with your party. However, Senator Jane Cunningham raised an interesting point when she explained her mom is an independent and will have to change her party affiliation before every primary now, depending on how she wants to vote. It made me realize that sometimes, bill proposals are one-sided and fail to work for everyone. It is important to consider every perspective.
The other story I worked on focused on a house of worship bill that received first round approval in the Senate. The bill makes it a crime to disrupt a group of people worshiping inentionally. The strange thing about the bill, however, is the language. The bill includes phrases such as "rude", "loud noises", and indecent behavior". To me these phrases are very opinion based and subjective. It will be interesting to see if the laguage is changed as it progresses.
The concept, no matter how many times you hear it or read it, is always somewhat difficult to understand. The role of a journalist is to report the facts and become the expert of the information he/she reports. I learned these past two weeks it is hard to become the expert in a subject some people devote their entire career toward. Listening to the debate about workers' comp was hard to follow...but I knew I would need to understand it for my story.
Legislators really aren't that difficult to talk to one-on-one. When I first arrived at the capitol I assumed they would not give the time of day to a student reporter. Rather, and as I learned Monday, they understand we need help in writing our stories. Representative Richardson explained to me, in more simple language, what the bill would do. This made it much easier to write my story. I will be sure, from here on out, to always find a legislator to talk to when I'm not 100% knowledgeable in the information I'm reporting. Hopefully, this will improve my stories in the future.
Monday was a slow day and there weren't many stories available. There was a scheduled Workers' Comp hearing that had the potential to turn into something, or nothing (I've learned that's how a lot of legislative hearings are). Either way, though, somebody had to go to make sure nothing important was missed. The hearing turned enough debate to make a few wraps, but the main things I learned were to look for any angle of a story that tells what happened that day and that it is important to research background info about the topic you're covering. Workers' comp is tough to understand. I researched for about an hour before the eharing, but even that didn't give me a full grasp on what it does/what it will do. I had to keep on finding articles and asking TA's and Phill in the newsroom to explain things to me. But, it's better to nag a few people in the newsroom than to report something innacurate.
The same type of deal occurred on Wednesday when I attended a hearing on the establishment of the Missouri Works program. I learned it's important ot not let the story fool you. At first, and on paper, it seems that the program would create jobs. But really, and what Phill opened my eyes up to, is that it could provide long-overdue, and much needed/wanted, tax breaks to businesses. From there, I found the real story that needed to be reported.
Next week I hope to work more on my feature to have a solid start by spring break. I am excited that I'm finally getting a handle on how the newsroom works and what is expected of me. Can't wait to see what the remainder of the semester has in store.
I'm definitely at that point where I feel confident putting a story together. I can operate the merantz, talk to legislators, and edit it all together to build a story with much more ease than I originally could. The learning process was definitely sped up thanks to the help of the TA's. It's nice having people around to answer questions and help you along the way.
One of the more rewarding days I had was covering the appointment of Jason Hall as Director of Economic Development. The hearing lasted about 3 hours, but when senators began to question Hall's ability to serve as the director I knew it would be a good story. Writing it was difficult, however, because I realized I didn't take the best notes. I ended up having to listen back to almost all of my audio which added about an hour and a half to the writing process. But in the end, I was happy with how my print story turned out...but I was even happier to see it was picked up by KMOX. That made it all seem worth it.
One of the not so awesome days was covering a story about crime photos and whether they should be made publicly available. The story was easy, and lacked controversy. It made it hard for people to want to voice their opinions. Additionally, it's always more entertaining to work on a story with substance.
This past week we had a snow day on Monday and Wednesday I wasn't able to make it down to the newsroom. But I am looking forward to see what next week has to bring...stay tuned!
On Monday when I first came out to the MDN newsroom at the Capitol I was relieved to find the staff and students were so willing and eager to help rookies in the newsroom. Political reporting isn't easy...but I have an interest in it and want to learn the best and most accurate way to report on the subject. After the first day, I knew that spending two days a week at MDN would help me do this.
Wednesday was a busy (which I've learned in news is pretty much a synonym for stressful) day at the Capitol. My first story was a rather controversial and interesting one. The gun crosshair stickers placed on six legislators doors on Tuesday afternoon were now being investigated. As a result, some senators spoke out, saying how they felt targeted and unsafe. I was assigned to do a follow-up story with Sarah and find out what measures authorities implemented and what the victims thought about the vandalism.
We got some great soundbites, but most of the answers we received were expected...senators were angered and security was heightened. Although this was an important aspect of the story, I wanted to include other aspects that not every "gun crosshair story" running in media outlets across the country would have. I tied the event to 9/11 after Phill informed me the Capitol did have metal detectors for a short time after the terrorist attacks. One senator told me she wanted them back. I also made sure to incorporate Gabrielle Giffords into one wrap, considering she resigned from congress right around the time the stickers were placed. I think any interesting information you can add to a story rather than just the simple facts makes it more thought-provoking and worth-while for the reader.
So, all-in-all I learned a lot from my first MDN reporting shift. I made some mistakes in my writing and there were a few technical difficulties...(I guess Grigsby was right when he said the technology will drive you crazy). It wasn't easy, but the reporting was fun. I'd take difficult and fun over boring and easy any day. So hopefully this continues to be a trend for the remainder of the semester.
Stay tuned for week number two.
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