Shannon O'Brien
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Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien is a junior at University of Missouri-Columbia dual majoring in Radio/TV journalism and political science. She has begun training at KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia, for producers assistant and the web desk.

Shannon grew up and spent half her life just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the rest she spent being a cheese head in Wisconsin. She is exploring all aspects of journalism in order to find where her true passions are. Shannon is considering political reporting or producing. This is Shannon's first semester reporting for Missouri Digital News.


Stories by Shannon O'Brien in 2014 include:
Stories by Shannon O'Brien in 2013 include:
Shannon O'Brien's Tweets @MDNnews in 2014

  • 01/22/2014: A proposed bill would protect small businesses from credit card fees @shannonMOBrien9
  • 01/22/2014: Bill closing retail stores during Christian holidays shot down immediately http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 01/22/2014: Retail stores will stay open during Christian holidays in 2014 http://bit.ly/1dQbL56
  • 01/22/2014: Proposed bill would require credit card services to make their contracts more transparent http://bit.ly/1dQbMWK
  • 01/27/2014: Senator Kraus pushes SB511, which requires all Mo. voters to have a photo ID smobrien9
  • 01/27/2014: Dem. lawmakers drill Republican Sen. Kraus with questions on his bill requiring voters in Mo. to have a government photo ID in order to vote
  • 01/27/2014: A bill requiring voter's to have a photo ID is back http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 01/27/2014: Bill requiring Mo. voters to have a government issued photo ID received no positive feedback in committee hearing http://bit.ly/1jYKAVD
  • 01/29/2014: Lawmakers passionately press forward to protect rodeos in Missouri. http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 01/29/2014: Missouri lawmakers push to protect rodeos with the "rodeo bill" http://bit.ly/MgtBm4
  • 01/29/2014: Groups in Missouri speak out about their feelings for rodeos and a bill that would protect them http://bit.ly/1b8dD3q
  • 02/03/2014: Director of the Public Defender System Cat Kelly says the state gives less than one half of one percent of funding to the system smobrien9
  • 02/03/2014: Missouri legal organization wants more money for public defenders http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/03/2014: Missouri lawmakers heard testimony from a legal agency proposing an increase in funding for public defenders http://bit.ly/LsHMDC
  • 02/03/2014: Sen. Schaefer and Sen. Pearce debate a bill that would require higher education institutions' budgets to be based on performance criteria
  • 02/03/2014: Sen. Schaefer says he thinks the bill would fail tax payers and students @smobrien9
  • 02/03/2014: One lawmaker pushes a bill that would provide incentives for education institutions to increase their performance http://bit.ly/MUaeA5
  • 02/10/2014: The Missouri Board of Education meets to discuss an intervention plan for failing unaccredited school districts smobrien9
  • 02/10/2014: Board members discuss options to solve immediate and long term problems with unaccredited school districts smobrien9
  • 02/10/2014: Peter Herschend, President of Missouri State Board of Education, said this is the point to take a chance and make things better smobrien9
  • 02/10/2014: The Missouri State Board of Education heard plans for unaccredited school problems in a special session. http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/10/2014: The Missouri State School Board of Education tries to agree on a plan for unaccredited school districts http://bit.ly/1iTwwvX
  • 02/12/2014: The Missouri ACLU announces its' claim against the state on behalf of same-sex marriages @smobrien9
  • 02/12/2014: JoDe and Lisa Layton-Brinker share their story and the impact Missouri's law denying legal recognition of their marriage has had on them
  • 02/12/2014: The ACLU of Missouri files lawsuit against the state on behalf of same-sex marriages http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/12/2014: The ACLU and eight same-sex couples filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of same-sex marriages http://bit.ly/1lECPoR
  • 02/12/2014: Organizations speak up about how they feel toward the lawsuit the ACLU of Missouri filed against Missouri http://bit.ly/1g8NtTl
  • 02/19/2014: Rep. Carpenter and Rep. Otto discuss alternative options to the Tax Relief Act of 2014 @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: Rep. Otto said he would like to see tax cuts given to Mo. citizens instead of only business owners @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: Rep. Berry, bill sponsor, said he is surprised the Gov. attacks businesses they way he does @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: "Shouldn't we reward people that will take a chance?" Rep. Berry said. @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: Rep. Berry, bill sponsor, said he is surprised the Governor attacks businesses the way he does @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: "Shouldn't we reward people that will take a chance?" Rep. Berry said. @smobrien9
  • 02/19/2014: The Missouri House endorsed two tax cut bills http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/19/2014: Missouri's House gives first round approval to tax cut bills. http://bit.ly/NcDAJr
  • 02/24/2014: Rep. Eric Burlison presents his bill on 'right to work' to the House Workforce Development Committee @smobrien9
  • 02/24/2014: Rep. Burlison said freedom to work states have higher job growth @smobrien9
  • 02/24/2014: Democrats continue the fight against Missouri becoming a ‘right to work’ state http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/24/2014: Democrats stand their ground and defend Missouri union workers http://bit.ly/1bH2dtd
  • 02/26/2014: Parents desperately push for the use of investigational drugs. http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 02/26/2014: Some parents try to reduce the time it takes for investigational drugs to reach doctor's offices http://bit.ly/1fIKzER
  • 03/05/2014: The Mo. House debates a bill that would require women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion after they've given consent @smobrien
  • 03/05/2014: Rep. Margo McNeil said the bill is patronizing and insulting @smobrien
  • 03/05/2014: Rep. Linda Black has a House Amendment on the bill requiring women to watch an informative video before having an abortion @smobrien
  • 03/05/2014: Rep. Black's amendment was adopted @smobrien9
  • 03/05/2014: Some democratic representatives speak against the bill and say the extended waiting period will not change anything @smobrien9
  • 03/05/2014: Abortion bills spark emotional debate in the House http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/05/2014: Republican lawmakers stand behind making women wait 72-hours before having an abortion http://bit.ly/1kzIzm8
  • 03/05/2014: Women would have to wait three more days before having an abortion if one House bill passes http://bit.ly/1kzMXBv
  • 03/10/2014: House Government Oversight Committee hears a bill dealing with emergency room misuse smobrien9
  • 03/10/2014: Ferber said he thinks the end goal of this bill can be achieved without the work requirements @smobrien9
  • 03/10/2014: Ferber said the rest of the bill has enough incentives for workers that the work requirements are not needed @smobrien9
  • 03/10/2014: Ferber said he would hate to see a poisoned bill that would stop all of this from going further @smobrien9
  • 03/10/2014: Missouri lawmakers keep pushing for Medicaid reform http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/10/2014: A House committee hears a Medicaid expansion plan based on tougher restrictions. http://bit.ly/OfIeqA
  • 03/12/2014: A Senate committee is hearing three bills involving the death penalty @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: The first bill, presented by Sen. Gina Walsh, would abolish the death penalty @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: No one testified in opposition to Walsh's bill @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: Sen. Rob Schaaf presented the second bill that would impose restrictions on lethal injection @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: If passed, Schaaf's bill would also prohibit the Dept. of Corrections to purchase execution drugs with cash @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: Sen. Jolie Justus presented the third bill that would require all executions be postponed until a commission adopts new protocols @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: Sen. Jolie Justus presented the third bill that would require all executions be postponed until a commission adopts new protocols
  • 03/12/2014: Schaaf said the current execution process lacks transparency @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: Marilyn Keller from Mo. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said she was shocked to learn there was no set protocol @smobrien9
  • 03/12/2014: Lawmakers presented three death penalty bills with no opposition testimonies http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/12/2014: Lawmakers want Missourians to know who provides the drugs to kill criminals. http://bit.ly/1gbcR6I
  • 03/12/2014: Lawmakers push to reveal the death penalty process in Missouri http://bit.ly/1gbfOnL
  • 03/17/2014: Some Missouri lobbyists want home-schoolers to participate in school athletics http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/19/2014: Study ranks Missouri as a high sales tax state http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/31/2014: Missouri legislations makes another attempt to stop voter fraud http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 03/31/2014: Republicans push for a bill that would require voters to show proof of identification before voting http://bit.ly/1hWblqM
  • 04/02/2014: Campaign contribution measure sparks attacks on Senate floor http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/02/2014: A measure limiting the amount of gifts lawmakers can receive from lobbyists prompts attacks on Senate floor http://bit.ly/1mATqKf
  • 04/07/2014: Harsh winter weather will not immediately affect MoDOT’s budget http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/09/2014: Senators disagree on cap amount for non-economic medical malpractice damages http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/09/2014: Republican and Democratic Senators disagree about the amount caps should be for non-economic pain damages http://bit.ly/1mYnS48
  • 04/09/2014: A Senate Committee discussed the affects of sexual orientation on businesses http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/09/2014: A Senate committee discussed how sexual orientation affects businesses http://bit.ly/1esdiKM
  • 04/28/2014: Kansas City and St. Louis Mayors speak against gun nullification bill http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/28/2014: KC and STL Mayors call a gun bill reckless and absurd http://bit.ly/1hLkxxD
  • 04/28/2014: Sponsor of a federal gun nullification measure said his intentions are to protect rights of law abiding citizens http://bit.ly/1hLrY8d
  • 04/30/2014: Missouri Senate considers prohibiting Common Core Standards for the state http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/30/2014: The Senate takes up Sen. Brian Nieves's gun nullification bill
  • 04/30/2014: Sen. Jolie Justus said there is not a one answer fits all for this issue @smobrien9
  • 04/30/2014: "Federal gun laws are the ones that really clean up the streets," Sen. Joseph Keaveny @smobrien9
  • 04/30/2014: Keaveny to Justus: "I don't think anyone in this state wants to stop prosecuting criminals." @smobrien9
  • 04/30/2014: Senate approves federal gun nullification measure http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 04/30/2014: Missouri Senate passes gun bill by 23-8 http://bit.ly/1o5cLE4
  • 05/05/2014: More than 275,000 Missourians signed a petition to eliminate teacher tenure http://bit.ly/RinJeK
  • 05/07/2014: Senate passes measure to require parental consent for individuals under 17 prior using a tanning bed http://bit.ly/1hUyD5k
  • 05/07/2014: The Show Me State's legislature considers putting restrictions on tanning beds for the first time ever http://bit.ly/1j4jFEO
  • 05/12/2014: Sen. Jolie Justus said any advancement in the LGBT community helps measures involving gays and lesbians http://bit.ly/1iH1ogO

Shannon O'Brien's Tweets @MDNnews in 2013

  • 08/29/2013: House Rep. Charlie Davis expects easy override of bill regarding fingerprinting of foster parents. http://bit.ly/193OFlM
  • 09/05/2013: Republican lawmaker says bill protecting federal holidays will be seen again http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 09/05/2013: If Republican lawmaker has his way, federal holidays will be protected under Missouri state law. http://bit.ly/17bKjZN
  • 09/05/2013: Vetoed bill involving God has shifted to a debate about regulation of fireworks. http://bit.ly/17bVkdB
  • 09/12/2013: Missouri statute says overridden vetoed bills will go into effect 30 days from yesterday, Oct. 10. @shannonmobrien9
  • 09/12/2013: A Missouri statute is unlikely to be questioned based on Missouri constitution http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 09/12/2013: A Missouri statute is unlikely to be questioned based on Missouri constitution http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 09/12/2013: Veto session on Wednesday will go down in history for failed overrides. http://bit.ly/18gmbbz
  • 09/26/2013: Missouri lawmakers discuss Medicaid waivers for Missouri @shannonmobrien9 @chrissyterez
  • 09/26/2013: Mo. Interim Committee hearing led by @jaybarnes5 on Medicaid looks to AR, IA & IN for guidance in construction of new bill #moleg @smobrien9
  • 09/26/2013: Mo. Interim Committee hearing led by @jaybarnes5 on Medicaid looks to AR, IA & IN for guidance in construction of new bill #moleg @smobrien9
  • 09/26/2013: Mo. Interim Committee hearing led by @jaybarnes5 on Medicaid looks to AR, IA & IN for guidance in construction of new bill #moleg @smobrien9
  • 09/26/2013: Mo. Interim Committee hearing led by @jaybarnes5 on Medicaid looks to AR, IA & IN for guidance in construction of new bill #moleg
  • 09/26/2013: Mo. Interim Committee hearing led by @jaybarnes5 on Medicaid looks to AR, IA & IN for guidance in construction of new bill #moleg @smobrien9
  • 09/26/2013: Parties on separate sides of the aisle came together to address the current issues in the states Medicaid program and brainstorm how to fix them
  • 09/26/2013: Opposing parties teamed up in an attempt to brainstorm ideas to fix the state Medicaid program. http://bit.ly/175XZGI
  • 10/03/2013: The current procedure for electing judges in Missouri is under attack http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 10/03/2013: Once again the Missouri Court Plan faces criticism. http://bit.ly/GBSRQC
  • 10/03/2013: Mo. Sec. of State approved initiative to repeal the Non-Partisan Court Plan for circulation http://bit.ly/GBSTb6
  • 10/10/2013: Mo. Dept. of Corrections has not commented on availability of drug for executions http://bit.ly/17rYXsX
  • 10/17/2013: Mo. National Guard is on its way back to a full staff http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 10/17/2013: Mo. National Guard is on its way back to a full staff http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 11/07/2013: House Minority Leader Rep. Hummel urges Rep. Webb to follow through and resign http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 11/07/2013: Rep. Webb told reporters he doesn't plan to resign http://bit.ly/17QgYWL
  • 11/14/2013: An initiative petition is open for public comment http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 11/14/2013: An initiative petition is open for public comment http://bit.ly/UBv8Rp
  • 11/14/2013: Gov. Nixon's office doors will be open for media availability today @ShannonMOBrien9
  • 11/14/2013: St. Louis lobbyist attempts to limit campaign contributions for Missouri senators and representatives http://bit.ly/19okow2
  • 12/05/2013: The House Econ Dev. Committee passed the Boeing bill without any changes @csturner1

Shannon O'Brien's Blog in 2013
Newsworthiness v. ethics

Posted 11/15/2013:  While a group of journalism students and I were studying for a Communications Law exam the other night we found ourselves analyzing the material as reporters not students. We started to debate the ethics of reporting certain information, areas we could enter and what laws would defend out actions. When we all realized what we were doing, we began to discuss how much freedom journalists are given. 

Journalists are give an extreme about of legal room to report, broadcast or publish basically whatever we want. Of course, ethics becomes one of the main arguments. At first glance, this could anger many people. Why should a reporter be able to broadcast video footage of a tragic accident, dead bodies or starving dogs? I assume there could be many answers on either side of the question.

The public gets their information mainly from reporters. If we had laws against showing these unfortunate events, the public would have a more difficult time finding out about these newsworthy events. Society needs to be educated and it is the job of journalists to provide this education even when it may not be the happiest information.


Breaking through the bs
Posted 11/08/2013: 

Reporters have to decipher between what is fact and what is solely politics when covering politics. As one of my professors has said many times, "Half the information you get from politicians will be a pissing match against other politicians. Your job as a reporter is to sift through that and find the information worth reporting." Also, politics includes a lot of wordy language and lots of it I struggle to understand. If a state political reporter doesn't understand the language, most likely the average listener will not understand it either.

Politicians love to paint themselves in a perfect light. They are good at giving great sound bites that make give the impression that they are doing amazing things for the state. For example, if Governor Nixon goes to a local middle school and talks to people about increasing funding. If a reporter were to ask Nixon what his plans are it wouldn't be surprising if his response was something like, "I plan to increase funding for education by a half a million dollars." Really? So is he just going to pull a half a million dollars from his side bank account and donate it to the schools? No. There is a political process and it isn't necessarily fast. As a reporter covering these situations, we have to be educated to know that when Nixon says he is going to increase funding...it really isn't this simple.



Breaking throught the bs
Posted 11/08/2013:  Reporting on state politics requires the reporter to decipher between what is fact and what is solely politics. As one of my professors has said many times, "Half the information you get from politicians will be a pissing match against other politicians. Your job as a reporter is to sift through that and find the real information worth reporting." Also, politics includes a lot of wordy language and lots of it I struggle to understand. If a state political reporter doesn't understand the language most likely the average listener will not understand it either.

Politicians love to paint themselves in the perfect light. They are good at giving great sound bites that make them seem like they are doing amazing things for the state. For example, if Governor Nixon goes to a local middle school and talks to people and increasing funding. Really? So he is just going to pull a half a million dollars from his side bank account and donate them to the schools in which he desires to? No. There is a political process and it isn't the fastest process ever. As a reporter covering these situations, we have to be educated enough to know that when Nixon says he is going to increase funding...it isn't as simple as he implies.


Closeness
Posted 11/01/2013:  I realized an important aspect of my job here at Missouri Digital News this week. Due to scheduling issues, I am only at the Capitol one time a week. I see this as a loss on my part because I am unable to get the full experience I was hoping to get. I was unable to come in for my shift this week. At the end of the day on Thursday, one of my friends and co-workers sent me a text about the day. His text made me realized that I missed being at the Capitol on Thursday.

Over the past couple of months I have learned more than I could have ever learned sitting in a classroom, but I have also created great relationships. Not every day runs smoothly in a newsroom, but having a close group of friends makes those days better. We go through a roller coaster of emotions. When one of us gets a good soundbite, we all get excited. When someone learns a lesson the hard way, we laugh but then offer our support. I think an important part about any job, especially in journalism, is the people you work with. It is great to know we are all willing to help each other produce the best stories possible.


Difficulty of the job
Posted 10/25/2013:  I was excited to come into my shift this week at MDN because I knew I was going to be working on my enterprise story. I wanted to get my first interview out of the way in case it didn't turn out like I had hoped. I wanted to give myself time to switch stories if I needed to. Fortunately, my interview went very well and I was able to get two perspectives to add to my story.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have realized what will be the most challenging part of reporting for me (or one of the hardest). After so many interviews, you eventually get used to asking people questions. You get used to whipping out your equipment and putting it in an awkwardly close range to the interviewee's face. You learn how to get a hold of people, or at least try every option to get a hold of them. When there isn't a breaking news story or a follow-up, you have to dig. You have to use your resources to find something new that the listeners and viewers are interested in. This, for me, is the most difficult part of reporting. I know it will take time, practice and hard work to get better at. I have heard many experienced journalists talk about this skill. They've said it takes time to develop and become good at, but once you figure it out it won't ever leave you. I cannot wait until I am able to develop this ability. It will make my reporting easier, but I have a feeling it will be something I struggle with for years!

 


Importance of verification
Posted 10/18/2013:  This week was more eventful than the past couple weeks have been. It is way easier to get a hold of people and organizations now that the government is back open. When I came into the newsroom I started working on Missouri national parks opening back up along with the National Guard employees coming back to work. I ended up focusing more on the Missouri National Guard because I was able to get a hold of a great source. I focused on if the furloughed employees would be getting reimbursed for their time off during the shutdown. 

It was difficult to make my story detailed because I had only talked to one person and she was unsure about the pay. Eventually, I was able to get an interview with someone from the Department of Defense. It was a great interview, but I did not clarify exactly what I was getting from the conversation. I didn't run the story because I was not 100 percent sure the story would be entirely accurate. 

I had a difficult time with this because I was excited about the interview and the potential of the story. It has definitely been a learning experience. I don't think I will make the same mistake again.  It was hard to abandon a story that I had worked all day on, but hey, that's the point of being a student. I am glad that this happened to me now and not later on down the road. 

This is one of the things I like most about reporting at the Capitol. We are reporting real stories for real people, but at the same time it is a great learning experience. I will feel much more confident going into my first job because working at the Capitol has given me great experience. Hopefully I get all my amateur mistakes out of the way now!


Is Facebook a toxic environment?
Posted 10/11/2013: 

I was very young the last time the government had a shutdown, so I cannot explain how it was. I'm sure people who had no idea what they were talking about influenced other people to believe things that weren’t necessarily true. I think Facebook has taken this to a whole new level. People are able to share blogs, stories, pictures you name it and it’s out there.

I am nowhere close to being an expert nor do I fully understand everything that is going on in Washington right now, but I don’t think social media is always helping. On the one side, I think it is good. People who would otherwise have no idea the government is shutdown are now aware, but on the other hand they still don’t know what’s going on. I think it’s an interesting thing to think about. How much is social media affecting our politics? There are certainly educational pages on Facebook you can like, or Twitter handles you can follow that will provide you with the correct information. The question is, how many people are doing this? Or are they just following random people who are blogging and trusting what they say is true? 

I don’t know any statistics, but it would be interesting to see how many college and high school students watch the news, listen to the radio, read newspapers or go to online news sites. I’m going into the career where I have to do all those things on a daily basis, but I think it would be overly optimistic to assume majority of the people pursuing other careers are doing the same.

A neat thought to think about is what would happen if all the information on Facebook were true involving the government? I think it’d be a very difficult thing to accomplish since everyone can post whatever he or she wants. It’s just interesting to imagine how our society would be different if we were all reading things on a daily basis that educated us more about what is really going on.


Lawmakers begin arduous progress of reforming Medicaid in Missouri
Posted 09/27/2013:  This was a slow news week at the Missouri Capitol. Last Friday Capitol police found a loaded handgun in one of the bathrooms that belonged to a legislative assistant. This story had fizzled out by the time I arrived to the Capitol on Thursday though.

Republican Rep. Jay Barnes led an Interim Committee hearing discussing Medicaid options for a new Medicaid expansion program for the state. Barnes looked towards Iowa, Indiana and Arkansas for guidelines when constructing a program for the state.

This was the first committee hearing I’ve ever sat in, besides a city council meeting on parking in the downtown area aka extremely dry information. I didn’t really know what to expect going into the meeting, but I was pleasantly surprised with how it went. It was a fun experience to see the lawmakers talk back and fourth. Nothing became too heated, but there was some tension and slight disagreements. It was easy to stay tuned in.

A law professor from St. Louis attended the hearing to answer questions the lawmakers had regarding Medicaid, waivers, eligibility, expansion, the whole nine yards. A lot of the questions were aimed at getting a background or clarification on how Iowa, Indiana or Arkansas have or are handling Medicaid in their states.

For my story I focused on the two bi-partisan parties coming together to create a Medicaid program for the state.  Last spring the topic of Medicaid expansion put the two parties head-to-head, but at the hearing they decided to set those differences aside and get to work. Going into the meeting I thought it was going to be a long and tedious day, which it was, but at the end of the day I realized I was having fun producing my story. I’m glad I was able to cover the committee hearing because I learned more about Medicaid and Missouri’s health programs. I also learned how to make my stories more entertaining for my readers/listeners.


Cime stories and their challenges
Posted 09/23/2013:  Ever since I was a little kid crime has interested me. I always watched the crime investigation shows. For a while I thought maybe that's what I wanted to do. When I decided to go to school for broadcast journalism I also learned that I could be a criminal reporter.

Being able to investigate a specific story or event, and then report it to the public is what draws me toward this kind of reporting. Last week it dawned on me that I'd love to cover high profile criminal cases whatever the sort. For my enterprise story I decided to stick with this crime beat. It will help me figure out if I still like the idea when I have actually covered crime stories. It was also help me figure out if I'm good at it.

Some challenges will present themselves that will probably make it more difficult for me to continue my stories. Over the years police stations, jails and prisons have become more closed off to the media, but not all. Some realize the important of having an open and trustworthy flow of information between themselves and the media, but others have not taken this route. When a department or officer doesn't want to share information about a case it makes the reporters job much more difficult. Facing these types of issues will only make me a better journalist. They will teach me other options to stories when I'm not able to get all the information I need, help me learn what questions to ask the first time around and most importantly it will better my communication and persistent skills which are mandatory for journalists.

Every story I cover and every person I talk to will make me a better journalist. I will learn something every time I step into the newsroom and facing challenges on the way will only benefit me in the long run.



The lead into a busy news week
Posted 09/06/2013:  This week was a relatively slow news week at the Capitol compared to what next week is about to bring. The legislative veto session will begin on Wednesday Sept. 11. Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed a number of bills that will be subject to overrides.

There are two higher profile vetoed bills that will be looked at in next weeks veto session. House bill 253 involving tax cuts is a debate everyone is talking about. Last week brought up even more conversation when Attorney General Chris Koster wrote an opinion letter outlining the repercussions this bill would bring if it's is overridden. Koster's letter was sent the same day Gov. Rick Perry from Texas was in town to discuss the tax bill. Last week had exciting news to cover, and I'd be willing to bet next week will provide even more high profile news to cover.

The second vetoed bill that has received attention is House Bill 436 on gun laws. Some of the bill's gun regulations include, a new minimum age to a have carry a concealed weapon, school districts would be allowed to pick teachers to go through training and carry weapons on school grounds, and it would also make it a Class A misdemeanor for a newspaper to publish the name of a firearm owner or applicant.  Just as a side note, our Governor is a proud gun owner. It will be interesting to see how this vetoed bill will be handled next week.

Aside from these vetoed bills, there will be many other bills being pushed for overrides.



First real story
Posted 08/29/2013:  This week was my first week at the state Capitol. When I took the tour last week there wasn't much going on in the newsroom, so I didn't see exactly how it would be. I had a mixed of emotions going into my first day, but my main emotion was nervousness. Within minutes of being there I was asked if I had a story or topic I wished to cover. As much as this question scared me because I had no idea, it made cemented the fact that this was a real newsroom and I needed to find something to cover.

I ended up covering a bill that had been vetoed by Governor Nixon. The bill had two parts, one pertaining to pausing final sayings in custody trials when one parent is deployed and the second involving foster parents and fingerprinting. At first I had no idea where to go with this information. I started calling senators and representatives to get their comments, but I had no luck. I still hadn't talked to anyone by the end of lunch. I decided to start writing a story around what I had found from the veto letter and bill itself. I was eventually able to talk to the house handler on the bill. The representative was hopeful that the vetoed bill would be overridden, so I wrote my story around  his perspective. I added a couple of Governor Nixon's main points in the veto letter and created my story.

I'm not too impressed with my story, but for my first real story it's not terrible. I know I have an enormous amount to learn and I cannot wait to read stories I produce months down the road.


Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.