Linking to articles in multiple ways

The addition of apps for Android and Apple phones and tablets is very cool, and very efficient. But there are a few things the apps don’t do, yet. You won’t see the “related media” box that is common with Web versions of your articles.

There are ways to overcome that, and we need to start employing them immediately. Several methods:

The straight hyperlink:

COLUMBIA — Mayor Bob McDavid hopes the community will pull its weight and donate enough food and money to reach the “Million Pounds Challenge” — an effort to collect one million pounds of food for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

McDavid, who made an identical challenge last fall, announced the drive Wednesday and the Dec. 18 deadline, which he called Columbia’s day of “caring for neighbors in need.”

In this case, the app reader has a pretty good idea what he or she will find by clicking on the link: the article about last year’s challenge. The Web reader gets the link there and in the related media box. When it comes to linking back to our stuff, redundancy is good. I’ll repeat: redundancy is good. Pssst: Redundancy is good.

The parenthetical:

The footnote:



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So today I had my call with my senior assessor where we went over my senior portfolio. He gave me such wonderful advice that I want to share it with you all as my last post.

As everyone knows, I’m vocal about my political views and my resume clearly shows what party I favor. Though I’m clearly likely to apply for an internship/job that will line up with my personal beliefs versus one that clearly attacks them, I asked my assessor (who is a political consultant in Seattle) how he separated his personal beliefs from his work life when he was a political journalist at the Seattle Times. We talked about how the newsroom here knows my views and is able to serve as a “check and balance” type system in terms of the stories I produce and how to have a Twitter account nowadays. Here’s what he said…

How do you separate your personal beliefs from your work?

  • Never any question for me
  • Want the story, want the truth, translate complicated world into what someone understands
  • Can never do that
  • Translate passion into way its not a struggle
  • No place for personal politics in newsrooms in real world
  • Less you talk about it, less trust
  • Job is to get best news in the quickest way, not show views
  • Remove political personal ideas on Twitter
  • NO trust in media anymore, you will be attacked the moment someone realizes your views
  • Give me the news and give it to me now; the truth

I think this is a great lesson for me as I go into the real world of journalism and decide what type of career path I want.

Happy end of semester, everyone!

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Take the ride

“A paper a day keeps the panic at bay.”

I’ve no idea if that’s an original quote (probably not) but that’s my mantra over the next week. I’ve calculated, when I woke this morning, how many projects, exams and papers due for all my classes this semester in the next week. Quite a lot, from my count: Seven quizzes, six papers, three projects and one exam between four courses (I turned my last assignment for one of my classes in yesterday morning). Going to be a fun ride over the next week.

But it’s been a fun (highly intense, demanding, enlightening and exhausting) ride all semester.

I had several goals this semester, not only in Advanced reporting but with all my classes. There’s really no marker where I can say “mission accomplished,” but I intentionally made my goals so they would instill habits, which will continue to produce results. I’m almost positive I’m not the only one, but here’s a recap of my goals this semester and my thoughts about each of them.

Intermediate Creative Writing: I wanted to develop my writing skills and stretch my creative thinking. This is probably my easiest goal I’ve accomplished and I now take time (throughout my day) to just think outside the box. I used to do this in high school and the beginning of my college career, but I had lost the habit in the past couple years. I’m glad it’s back now.

Reality of God: I took this class as an elective and to fill a humanities requirement in my grad plan… I’ve developed a stronger ability to step in another person’s shoes, consider their perspective. It’s another habit, like creative writing, that I felt was lost over the years and is now back.

Understanding Audiences: My goal was to learn the title of the lesson. Along with Computer Assisted Reporting from last semester, I’m really good now at using Excel to analyze data… This was more a concrete goal but I’m definitely looking forward to using the lessons I learned once I graduate: I’m probably going to start my own online news outlet, see if has a chance of succeeding in the summer months after I graduate. This class’s lessons will be really useful for that.

Sociology: I needed one sociology class in particular to fulfill my minor requirement… No goals other than to pass this class, and I’m pretty confident I will. Next, and certainly not least:

Advanced Reporting: I wanted to maintain focus in my writing. That was my biggest, and is my biggest, weakness. I’m still working on it, but I’m proud at how far I’ve come this semester with staying focused and on a logical path from beginning to end. I’ve got a far way to go and it’s going to continue to be hard, but I’ve made a great step in the right direction. I also wanted to know the purpose of the articles I write, which for better or worse, I definitely understand.

There are so many other lessons I learned this semester, but I feel those have been the most evident.

Good luck with finals!

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NASA never called back

In kindergarten I wanted to be an astronaut. I don’t know if it was the space camp commercials, the release of Apollo 13 or the glow-in-the-dark stars above my bed, but most of my daydreams consisted of me floating from a lunar modular into the weightless black of deep space.

It didn’t take long for my boyhood dream to change. First, the space shuttle Columbia exploded. Then my favorite planet, Pluto, was relegated to dwarf-planet status. I also heard rumors that astronauts had to be taller than 6-feet. Judging from my familial pedigree, 6-feet wasn’t happening. So I moved on and decided to play in the NHL.

Last week, while researching for my sequestration article, I revisited my childhood dream. I called NASA. And they never called back.

NASA’s one of several federal agencies that provides research funding to the UM System. A potential sequestration in January — a holding back of federal funds — puts federally supported research and student aid in danger of losing up to 8.2 percent of funds.

Federal agencies like NASA have been unclear in how exactly they’ll implement these scheduled cuts if indeed they occur.

The story had a lot of moving parts, and few of the key players would talk to me anywhere but email.

I finally convinced Rob Duncan, vice chancellor for research at MU, to speak with me on the phone. Luckily, Duncan had the patience necessary to walk me through the intricacies of sequestration.

The downside to Duncan’s help, I feared, was that my article leaned heavily on one source. Every professor and MU rep I talked to referred me to Duncan. Couldn’t someone else speak on the matter?

I realized after I published that an economic or congressional budget expert could have done wonders for the story. A White House rep could have explained the issue I was trying to localize. But the White House never called back.

Neither did NASA.

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Overcoming “Article Inertia”

Here is the presentation I developed to suggest ways to overcome “article inertia,” as discussed in class. I’ll add a little story about my approach …

Several years ago, I had a (very) part-time gig as a producer and co-host on a podcast about meditation. My friend Bodhipaksa (pronounced BO-dee-PAHK-sha) makes meditation CDs and runs a website to share information about meditation, including meditation in the news. The podcast focused on the latter: meditation news and meditation in the news. It was quirky and interesting, and I came to appreciate a fabulously dry and often sarcastic streak of humor in many of the Buddhists I know.

The podcast, like Bodhipaksa’s website, was called Wildmind. It was short-lived, but not because it wasn’t a great idea. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and variety of topics we covered, and a few stand out. Like the professor at Naropa who, years earlier, founded the world’s first prison hospice program — while he was in prison for drug smuggling. Or the man in the Pacific Northwest who made waves in the Buddhist community for criticizing a systemic absence of community service among most sanghas (Buddhist monastic orders and spiritual communities) in the United States.

Then there was the woman who was not a Buddhist, if I remember correctly, but a meditator and a scientific researcher. She was working on a study of mindfulness in education at Stanford when I interviewed her. To clarify, “mindfulness in education” refers not to teaching mindfulness, but rather to using mindfulness as a teaching tool. She and her colleagues were conducting experiments to measure the impact of incorporating mindfulness practice into classroom education. An example follows — but I must say, this is from memory, so the gist will be the same but some of the details may vary:

At the start of a third-grade class, the students gathered around a circular table with a bowl of apples and oranges in the middle. They were asked to look at the fruit from their seats and describe what they saw: differences in color and texture. The teacher handed out the fruit for them to hold: smooth versus bumpy. Now bite the apple: its thin skin pops, your mouth waters, the firm flesh crunches as you bite. It’s juicy. Now peel the orange: a fragrant mist sprays from its skin — skin that, unlike the apple, you do not eat. You pull the sections apart, peel the white pith. Your fingers get dry. When you eat it, the taste registers in a different part of your mouth. Your mouth waters again.

It was snack time, but something more. It was a chance for the teacher to bring all the children to attention and slow them down. It was an experiential lesson in paying attention. And the researchers found that, when mindfulness practice like this was incorporated into the learning environment, kids learned more. They retained more information. They understood it on a deeper level. They acted out less. Mindfulness made a difference.

The mindfulness doesn’t do any of the heavy lifting in a learning environment; teachers and students still have to do that for themselves. But it just might make the lifting we do even more effective.


P.S. The man who started the prison hospice program is named Fleet Maull. It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t remember his name, so I had to go googling. That one program has grown into an ambitious nonprofit organization called the Prison Mindfulness Institute. I was amazed to see how much it’s grown since I interviewed Fleet Maull several years ago. I also happened upon a remarkable book of photography documenting a prison hospice program at the infamous Angola prison in Louisiana. It’s called Grace Before Dying, and these photos are stunning.

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This goes back to something that Mike brought up in class: teamwork in the newsroom. 

During an average day of covering stories for the Missourian I tend to forget that a newspaper really is a team.  I just see myself.  I gather facts, write them up, and then electronically ship them off to be edited.  I don’t generally work with anyone besides an editor or an ACE, and I usually see that (for some ridiculous reason) as an adversarial relationship.

But that isn’t the way it works at all.  In reality, many many people go into putting together the online and print versions of the newspaper.  It takes different people with different skill sets working together to produce a quality product.  And I forget that all too often.

Last week I was reminded of just how essential teamwork is to the smooth functioning of a newsroom.  When the Dixon case broke, people at all levels of the process pitched in to help get the story out.  Since the initial story broke, over 10 reporters have been involved in writing stories about the incident or the fallout.  Editors and ACEs were indispensible in giving guidance and direction, as well as making tough editing decisions.  The entire newsroom dropped what they were working on to pitch in in whatever way that they could. 

This experience of working on the Dixon case has given me an insight into the way that teamwork can make or break a newsroom.  One man can’t put out a (good) newspaper.  It takes a number of people working together with the same common goals to produce quality journalism.         

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Today I have an interview for a profile story about a blacksmith who recently started a business in Columbia. I have not done many profiles story, and after talking to Scott, we decided that this is one area in which I am still struggling and need to work on. 

Although the interview has not yet happened, I have already learned a lot about the process of blacksmithing from doing research in preparation for the interview. Learning about the world is a valuable thing journalism has provided during my year as a reporter for the Missourian. This is something I will take with me beyond my career at the Missourian. This is my last week as a reporter; next semester I will be on the ice desk. All of the different stories I have done has taught me about everything from city zoning laws, craft beer, state government, undecided voters, trash collection, budgets and etc.

Journalism is a unique profession that provides such valuable experience. I am excited for my interview with the blacksmith and while I do not expect to become a blacksmithing expert, I do expect to learn enough about it to write a story about it and tell a friend about it.

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