Well, this is officially the last blog post of fall semester 2014. I have learned an incredible amount since I began here three and a half months ago and I look forward to learning so much more in the spring when the General Assembly is in session. The days of slow news are over! January is sure to bring some exciting days here at MDN.
My final week materialized a few good stories...
On Tuesday, I did a print and radio stories on a very large contribution to a lieutenant governor prospect by billionaire Rex Sinquefield. Beverly Randles would be the Republican candidate if she chooses to run. She is currently the chairwoman of Club for Growth in Missouri, which Sinquefield has funded over the years. Sinquefield gave her $1 million dollars to help her decide if she wants to challenge the incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who has not announced if he will run for a historic fourth term.
Today, I help Phill out with a story about Governor Jay Nixon answering questions in front of the Joint Committee on Governmental Accountability about the deployment and purpose of the Missouri National Guard troops in the aftermath of the grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer.
If Nixon chooses not to appear before the committee, the group has left open the possibility that Nixon may be under the threat of a subpoena, which would force him to answer the questions.
I produced a good print story and a few radio wraps for KMOX.
That's it for now...I'm excited to return in January where I will work as a journalist for Missouri Digital News and KMOX for the first time while the General Assembly is in session. It promises to be an exciting and very educational process.
Until then, happy holidays!
Today marks one more week at MDN for the fall semester. I have learned an incredible amount during my time here and I'm looking forward to the spring semester during session.
This week was slow...On Tuesday, I wrote a piece on some of the laws filed as a result of the Ferguson incident. In particular, I wrote about the bills filed by Senators Jamilah Nasheed, Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Rep. Sharon Pace.
Both the print and radio stories turned out really well, I think. I did a synopsis of the bills they introduced and how they would change the language of current Missouri law concerning the use of lethal force by police.
Today, I did a piece on the newly elected legislators to the House of Representatives. Their "freshman" orientation was this week so I asked some of the members what it was like to be a new member of the state government, what they were learning about and what they plan to do during their time at the statehouse during session.
Both the print and radio stories turned out pretty well...It's not the most exciting story but it's current and happening here.
Well, next week is the last week for fall semester. We'll see what stories I get next week, but I'm really looking forward to all of the excitement and the buzz in the air around the statehouse that comes with session. I've learned a lot but there is so much left to learn...
As the Fall semester comes to an end, I'm realizing how much I have learned since I began here at MDN. Not to mention the great people I have met along the way. This place has really grown on me and I can't wait to see what it's like to be here while the General Assembly is in session.
We had to say goodbye to one of our own today. Xavier Crayton-Bradford is a dear friend of mine that I will miss very much. He is graduating from Lincoln University and is looking for a full-time job at a radio station. I know he will go on to do big things and I wish him luck in everything he does.
On Tuesday, I wrote a story on the October jobs report. It turned out pretty well and I got some good audio for my radio stories, as well. Turns out Missouri's unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%! That's the lowest it's been since June 2008!
Today (Thursday), I'm writing about a package of pay and credit increases put forth by a Missouri commission. It would increase the pay for statewide elected officials as well as lawmakers beginning in fiscal year 2016. I've got good audio from someone who is opposing the increases and I'm waiting for a phone call back from someone who supports it.
I think the print and KMOX stories are turning out well so far. Hopefully I get a call back so I get a complete story...
Next week is Thanksgiving so I will be out of the office for a much needed break! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and I'll have more stories for you to read from the statehouse following the holiday.
Tuesday was Veterans Day so no work out of statehouse. Finally a day off!
Thursday, I came into work after looking at the St. Louis Post Dispatch as Kansas City Star's apps to see what some of the news was going on that day. I didn't really see anything that would call for our attention from the Capitol building. Once I got into the office, I started looking around a little more.
It turns out, Sen. Claire McCaskill told Sen. Harry Reid that she does not support him to become the senate minority leader because, after the November midterm elections resulting in a heavy swing to the Republican side, it's not what Missouri voters would like to see. She said she thinks Missouri citizens want change and that change begins with leadership.
Okay, so that's a pretty good story. McCaskill has flirted with the idea of running for governor in 2016 but has not confirmed anything...or denied. So, what made this a great story is linking this to her possible want to be the governor of Missouri someday. Does her vote against Reid build a foundation for her gubernatorial run in 2016? Is this her way of showing that she can be a more conservative Democrat to secure Missouri citizens' votes by voting no to a long-time Democratic leader (since 2005)?
I called an MU Political Science professor and he said that the decision not to vote for Reid sends a message to Missouri constituents that she is independent from the Democratic leadership and is not afraid to back away from it. He said it shows that she might be trying to align herself with voters for a gubernatorial run in 2016.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the story. The only thing that would have made it better is if McCaskill called me back because I did put in an interview request with her...
Oh well, stay tuned for more!
So, on Tuesday, I can into the MDN office where not much was happening. I started to research which states had a quarantine protocol established for travellers coming from western Africa for the purposes of trying to contain the spread of Ebola. Just as I found some good information, Phill calls and tells me that there have been a change in plans and that I have a new assignment. So get this...
The election took place on Tuesday and the governor went out to cast his ballot at his polling place. Someone on his staff snapped a picture from behind him showing him sitting and filling out his ballot. Also in the picture, a woman seated next to him filling out her ballot, but the woman's pants are not covering everything. For some reason, that picture was chosen to be tweeted out with a message encouraging citizens to get out and vote. The tweet went viral before it was deleted. Another picture was chosen to take its place and was tweeted out sometime later with the same caption as if nothing had ever happened. However, screenshots were taken of the tweet and showed up on the Internet in multiple places in a matter of minutes.
I made phone calls to the governor's press secretary for comment about who may have tweeted it or why that picture was tweeted in the first place, but my phone calls were not returned. There still is no word if an apology has been made to the woman in the photo.
Today, I will be attending the House Democratic Caucus following the election on Tuesday.
That's all for now...
On Tuesday, Phill gave me a story about the Missouri Board of Education. Some thought they would be announcing a new commissioner, which they did not.
The only sort-of piece of news that came out of the two-hour meeting is the reapproval of the Top 10 by 20 program, which they approved four years ago, and the approval of the transformation of the private De La Salle high school to a charter school named La Salle high school.
So I only did a voicer for KMOX on the process the Board of Education is taking to find and hire a new commissioner.
Thursday was a bit more exciting...
Missouri Attorney General was a major piece in a New York Times article that said his office, as well as other attorney's general offices, dropped investigations involving several companies in return for campaign contributions.
I wrote a newspaper story for MPA that turned out pretty well, but like most other days, no one was available for comment. I used news releases for the quotes, but I think it turned out pretty well. Of course, I would have preferred if I had gotten someone on the phone but a lot of times, sources don't like to release unprepared responses in situations like this.
Anyway, that was my week. We'll see what next week brings...Stay tuned!
This week, I wrote a piece about Amendment Ten, which is on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.
The Amendment would allow lawmakers to override Gov. Nixon's withholdings, much like the power they already possess to override the governor's line-item vetoes.
I think it's the most talked about amendment on the ballot so I'm glad I got the chance to write a pretty solid story about it. Not to mention, I also got to produce a few radio staories for KMOX in St. Louis.
Today, on the other hand, is a very slow news day. I found a story about Missouri ranking near the bottom of an energy-efficiency list, which would be interesting because they fell from their place on the list last year. We'll see what happens...
That's all for now...despite not having a story idea right away, I always learn something new at MDN.
I got to try something new this week...
On Tuesday, I was assigned to a story about the mayor of St. Louis saying the city needs the governments help in addressing racial challenges and violence in the city. I tried calling a couple different legislators whose districts include or are near St. Louis for comment but no one picked up nor called me back after leaving messages. I also tried calling the House Speaker but no luck with that either.
I called the Governor's office to see if they had any comments about helping the biggest city in the state fix its racial challenges and violence issues...but nope. They never called me back either after leaving a message. I even called the press secretary's cell phone and left a message.
So Phill had this idea to send me to record a radio story from right outside the governor's office so everybody could hear that his office had no response to the mayor's plea for help.
I thought that was pretty cool and it worked pretty well, however, still no one talked to me...
Thursday, I had a story about Ebola...you know, that story that's been dominating the news? Well, apparently nurses have expressed their concern about being unprepared for an Ebola outbreak. I called the Missouri Hospital Association because our News Director at KMOX, John Butler, wanted to see what they had to say.
The man who talked to me gave me some useful information, however, the story is one-sided. I've tried contacting the National Nurses United in both St. Louis and Kansas City, but guess what...no answer. So, I'm still trying to deal with the ever-so-important requirement of journalism -- balance.
Next week, I will be reporting on a ballot issue. Amendment 10 will be up for a vote on Nov. 4 so look for my story on that next week.
That's all for now...
This week went pretty well, too.
Tuesday I had a story about a national Republican group that donated $100,000 to the Republican candidate in the race for Cole County Circuit Judge. The candidate, Brian Stumpe, is currently the Jefferson City municipal prosecutor. He is challenging the incumbent democrat, Pat Joyce.
Joyce's treasurer said Stumpe should return the money unless the original contributors to the Republican group are revealed.
Unfortunately, neither treasurer for Stumpe or Joyce were available to talk to me but I'm happy with the way it came out.
Thursday, I got a pretty interesting story about the state's main health care plan expanding its coverage to include same-sex couples from other states. A judge in Jackson County ruled that Missouri must acknowledge same-sex marriages from other states.
The Attorney General said he is not going to appeal the decision, which has him underfire from some state legislators, including House Speaker Tim Jones.
This story turned out nicely, too, and I got a few radio stories written for KMOX.
Hopefully, next week is a continuation of this week!
Well, this week went pretty well.
On Tuesday, I arrived at the State Capitol to begin researching my enterprise story - state adoption efforts for hard-to-place children. An hour in, Phill calls on his lunch break and says he found out about a story we didn't know about and that I should begin to work on that.
The story was the state auditor's office released a report on pension and retirement funds in Missouri. The report caused the auditor's office to place fifteen of them to be placed on a "watch list" due to not enough funding because the recommended and/or required contributions to the funds were not met.
The story turned out pretty well, and I got some radio stories on it.
Phill wanted to include the list of the fifteen pension funds placed on the "watch list," but the audit report didn't include said list. So, Phill got a list from AP but had me confirm with the auditor's office because some of the print outlets in MPA are not AP subscribers. If we were to include that list, we would have been giving AP material out for free. Fair enough.
Thursday, I got to start working on my enterprise story. I think it can be a really good story. I've made a few calls and put in a few emails and I've gotten some good stuff. Next week, I will continue to gather information and begin writing the story as long as there is no spot news, so stay tuned for that.
Now excuse me while I try to beat a tornado home.
This week, I worked on a story about work groups assigned to review and revise Missouri education standard set under Common Core. It was a good stroy, but I needed one of the supporters of the bill to talk to me.
Of course...no one picked up their phone until I tried Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder. I had a list of prepared questions I was going to ask him and I began to fire them off.
After I asked my first question about why the DESE could not be involved in any way with the deliberations of the work groups unless invited to do so, he got upset with me. He thought I was asking for his specific opinion about the inclusion of the DESE statute in the bill. He said I should not be interested in his opinion, when in fact I wasn't, and that I should read the bill instead of calling him.
After he went on his rant, I realized the way I had written the question was misleading and I told him I understood everything he was saying but I had not written the question to reflect what I was trying to ask.
Lesson learned: Make sure the questions you write are worded in such a way that the person you are asking them fully understands what you are asking.
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