Classes and my senior year of college don’t begin until tomorrow morning, but I’m excited for this semester nonetheless. Today, I had two meetings that have determined how busy this semester will be — and it will be very busy.
The first meeting was the staff photo meeting at The Columbia Missourian, a morning city newspaper affiliated with the MU School of Journalism and staffed completely (except for certain editorial positions) by students. I’ve been a reporter for The Missourian for a year, during which I reported on now-attorney general Chris Koster’s general election campaign, the state budget and other such state political and economic news.
Now, I’m one of several staff photographers. I’m looking forward to this, mostly because I haven’t been on the field and behind a camera since freshman year, when I shot for The Maneater student newspaper. (In sophomore year, I was the Maneater photo editor, and last year I was doing political reporting for The Missourian.) I’ve talked to a few now-alumni who were also staff photographers at The Missourian. Among other things, they urged me to be enterprising and proactive in what I shoot.
“Take advantage of that press badge, and work your stories,” one told me (I’m paraphrasing — that conversation was several weeks ago). “Think of one story you want to follow all semester, and work toward that. It’s good exercise for you, good for The Missourian and good for your resume and portfolio.”
Which is exactly what the Missourian‘s new director of photography, Josh, said.
During the staff meeting, Josh reiterated the importance of being proactive, even if it means getting just a standalone photo published. He repeated his desire/the need to make The Missourian more visual.
“We die if we don’t have ideas,” he said. “The balloon deflates, and the reporters take over.”
Fortunately for me, I’ve already got a leg up on being proactive. Last semester, my Jefferson City editor Phill Brooks gave me a long-term article I never completed or even began: an in-depth look at rural poverty.
Once Phill and I realized that that article would not manifest in that semester, since I was so busy reporting on the state budget and economy, we moved it to this semester. Since then, I’ve turned that story into one big project and asked fellow Jeff City reporter Theo Keith to help me with it.
Theo, who spent the summer in New York City interning with FOX News, is a broadcast student, so with our combined skills and interests, we’ll have a nicely-rounded out package. We are still hammering out the details, but we are aiming for publication in The Missourian, as well as airings on major radio stations in the state.
To that end, I’d like to introduce a new series in this blog:
Missouri’s Rural Recession
Theo and I are going to set up a separate blog in which we’ll document our experiences and deposit short-and-sweet pieces (blurbs, vignettes, photos, videos, audio clips). I’ll be linking to those posts in my blog here, but I’ll also be adding some content from the project here — especially if/when I get any content that doesn’t fit well within our scheme and structure but is nevertheless of general interest.
So that’s that.
Also this semester, I’ll be learning basic Web and Flash utilities in one of my journalism classes, as well as indulging my etymological/philological geek by attending two linguistics classes (both of which are taught by the same professor). It’s going to be a hectic, crazy, ridiculous semester, but I really can’t be more excited about it. There’s nothing quite like embarking on a major project and taking two classes that are of nothing but personal value/interest. I can’t think of a better way to kick off my senior year at MU.
P.S. — Still haven’t had time to edit everything from this summer. But it’ll all get posted/blogged soon… ish.