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Beastly Mizzou Photojournalism Alumni

Posted by ljbdmb on September 13, 2008

Yesterday I attended the “Carrying Photojournalism’s Practices to the Marketplace” event in Lee Hills Hall and all I can say is I was incredibly impressed. As a student considering the photojournalism track, I was both in awe and intimidated when I first walked into the auditorium. It seems everyone had some kind of hard core camera equipment and computer on them and looked just generally intense, making me feel a little bit like a twelve year old with my little notebook and pen. We were told there would be four speakers, each talking for about 18 minutes about their careers.

First up was Brian Smith, who basically proved to be the Bon Jovi of the photojournalism world. Shortly after graduating from the J-School he worked for the Orange County Register where he covered the Olympics. What was so distinctive about his photos in the Olympics shoot was that the angles were so unique. In a lot of ways they looked more like art than sports photography. He said his philosophy during that shoot was to “be where nobody else is going to be”. Since his early days as a journalist he has photographed countless celebrities and public figures, including DMX, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Venus Williams, Shaq, and Antonio Banderas just to name a few. In a good month, he’ll have FOUR cover photos on the newstands. Outside of celebrity photography, his work has been extremely varied, including sports shots and special interest pieces. In all of his photos I was struck by how striking they were. The colors are so vibrant it seems unreal, almost as if he has people placed in front of a painting. The angles are also stunning, again making his photos sometimes look more like art than what you generally expect in a journalistic piece. Throughout his presentation he gave really good advice about how to become a successful photojournalist, and perhaps more importantly how to be happy with the career. One point he emphasized through his talk was not to wait until you have your dream job to shoot like a rock star. In terms of making a living, one of his biggest points was to “OWN YOUR WORK”. In his career, he’s made a lot of money from photos that he’s kept the rights to. He told everyone in the audience to always remember to shoot what you love, and perhaps more importantly dare to be different.

Next up was Jean Shifrin, who got her start at a paper in St. Joseph and then went on to work at a studio in Kansas City. She worked for a while at the Kansas City Star, and then at a paper in Atlanta until 2005. One of her photojournalism stories was a piece about grandparents raising grandchildren, and what was so striking about it was that she made pictures incredibly intimate. After working for newspapers she decided she wanted to start her own business where she could focus her work on what she loves: documentary photography and children. Her goal is to capture personal moments in people’s lives. She photographs and binds “day in the life” and “year in the life” coffee table books filled with pictures of children and their families, as well as doing studio portraitures. She also does pro bono work in India, photographing the lives of people in a leprosy camp in India for a non profit organization.

Jennifer Loomis was next, who has had a very diverse career. The common thread through her presentation was the idea that you always need to figure out why you care about a story. While working for a paper in Evansville, Indiana, she independently researched and wrote a story called “For the Love of Jeffrey”, which was about a grandfather taking care of his disabled grandson who was having difficulty with his Medicaid. Her story ended up uniting the community, and many people donated time and money to help him and his grandson. She wrote a story about Japan about life for the elderly in nursing homes, and has also worked in East Africa. Today she takes family and maternity portraits, and continues to believe that “good photography is about making connections”. She says what moves her most about taking nude or semi nude maternity photographs is that the women often leave feeling much more beautiful and confident than they’ve felt since the start of their pregnancy. She concluded her presentation by reiterating her point that all photographers should remember to make photographs, not just take photographs.

Last up was Mark Perry, who entitled his portion of the presentation “Photojournalism, Museums, and the Long Haul”. The main point he kept making through his talk was that photojournalists should always be aware of “how time changes photographs”. He explained that ten, twenty, thirty, or more years after you took a picture, it’s meaning may be totally changed. The example he gave was of a photograph of a group of old men sitting in front of what to us looks like an old car. Thus, we see it today as a picture of old men and old cars. But when the photo was taking, that car was the hot thing on the market, so to viewers back then it represented the relationship between the past and the future. He also discussed the importance of holding on to all of the pictures you take, because what may not be usable now could be extremely valuable in the future. Years ago, he photographed life at a leprosy colony in the Midwest, but found that he couldn’t get the pictures published because the story was too real and hit too close to home. But now, years later, those same pictures hang in a museum. He then proceeded to give advice about how to get your pictures into a museum. He said the first step is to recognize that “museums treat their collections like their children”. Secondly, he said to “do everything possible to make yourself worthy of inclusion in that family”. And finally, he said it was important to develop relationships with individuals in power at the museums, who can vouch for you and your work. He concluded by saying that throughout your career, always remember to “make your assignments possible”, and not just see them as yet another piece of work.

The entire session lasted almost an hour and forty-five minutes, so as you can imagine when walking out of the auditorium my mind was crammed with advice, anecdotes, and new information about photojournalism practice and the profession itself. I hope I’ve done all the speakers justice with the little amount of space I had. If at all possible, I would REALLY recommend that whoever is reading this Google the images of these individuals!

-Lauren Breckenfelder

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Rewarding the Enduring Values of Radio-Television Journalism

Posted by Emily Reinbott on September 13, 2008

Walking into this session about broadcast journalism and values, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I am quite positive I don’t want to go into broadcast journalism so I don’t know much about the people and business.  I also wasn’t really sure what they meant by “values”.  I thought maybe that meant like telling the truth, you know, the simple stuff.  So really, I didn’t know what to expect at all.  Surprisingly, I listened to one of the most motivating talks I have ever heard.

During my three short weeks as a journalism student, I have heard over and over again of the uncertainty of the future of journalism.  Bob Priddy, the mediator of the panel, compared the future to “playing with a deck where all 52 cards are wild.  [Journalists] are still trying to learn the game.  We don’t even know what the game is.”  The dilemma; how to keep up with the changing audience but still hold true to the values on which Walter Williams founded the Missouri School of Journalism.

Journalism, contrary to popular belief, is supposed to be a public service.  It’s not about being flashy; it’s about finding stories that mean something.  John Ferrugia, a member of the panel, showed a video that his team had spent months researching.  It was about rape within the Air Force Academy.  This particular investigation brought about changes worldwide.  That is what it means to provide for the public.  That is why people should get into journalism.  It’s not about the fame and glory because really, the fame and glory are nonexistent.  It’s not being on TV and gaining recognition.  Journalism is about bringing problems into light so they can be resolved.

As I listened, I silently let out a sigh of relief.  I don’t want to spend my life writing about kittens in trees and the dangers of doorknobs.  I want to write about things that matter.  I thought I was just crazy for thinking I could do this within the journalism world but, apparently, this is what journalists are suppose to do! I am so excited!

But as I said before, the world of journalism is changing as the audience looks for a more convenient and digital form of media.  At first, media came in the form of a weekly newspaper.  Then it upgraded to the daily news and then news channels, such as CNN, were created to put on a constant stream of news.  But even this is not enough.  The Internet is now becoming a main source of constantly up to date news.  Newspapers and television are being thrown by the way side because of their inconvenience.  Marketing is now taking a larger role in the world of journalism.  Sadly, this means that those stories that can change the world are not being sought after.  They require lots of time and money, money newsrooms don’t have to spend.  The easy stories about kitty cats and doorknobs are much easier to fund but that is not journalism.  Those stories do nothing for the good of the public.  Keeping to the journalism creed, we journalists need to suck it up, put in those 14 hour work days, get those stories that mean the most and try not worry about the money.

At the end of this session, I looked at my partner, Becky, and said, “Wow, lets go write!”  It took such a load off my shoulders to know that, yes, I am doing the right thing with my life.  I can help people with my words.  All I have to do now is work my butt off!

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Posted by Daniel Maxson on September 13, 2008

Through all the excitement about new media and user-generated content, there is one common complaint. For most users, the internet is far too complex. It’s simply too difficult and time-consuming to sift through everything to find information we’re casually interested in.

BeWiki is the answer to this complaint. Developed by Jeff O’Dell, the concept behind BeWiki is to automate the process of information gathering. Instead of requiring the user to go through thousands of search results and sift through what’s useful, BeWiki brings the relevant results to the user, then takes feedback. The more it’s used, the more streamlined the process becomes.

This can be useful for hobbyists. Some examples presented were photographers, fishers, doctors, and classic car enthusiasts. Of course, the individual user has much more defined interests, but that’s the point of BeWiki.

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Ambient Content: What is it?

Posted by Daniel Maxson on September 13, 2008

On September 12th, Marc Kempter introduced as to ambient content, a new form of media.

Ambient content is an answer to a problem. That problem is that a large TV is just a silent black box when it’s not being used. It doesn’t contribute much to the ambient mood of a room.

Marc and his colleagues hope that their ambient content can change that. For those familiar with ambient music, this is the next step. The TV screen can play a non-intrusive video that can either entertain or blend into the background.

The general reaction from the audience was, “Well, isn’t this just like a screensaver for a television screen?” But Marc pointed out that the significant difference was that a screensaver is not meant to entertain. In contrast, ambient content is a piece of art. It is meant to contribute to the overall mood in a room.

Two examples he gave that will be familiar to regular internet-users were that of the fireplace and aquarium screensavers. They take the place of a screensaver, but they can also be a piece of art. He argued that those are just the first primitive examples of ambient content, and that soon ambient content will actually be sold in video stores and through online sources such as iTunes.

When asked who would produce the content, he explained that at first the tools will only be available to commercial producers, but that developers of the tools are working very hard to make the tools accessible to everyone, in keeping with the age of user-generated content

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Best of the President’s Roundtable

Posted by Daniel Everson on September 13, 2008

Technology, communication, and journalism industry leaders convened in Jesse Auditorium Friday afternoon to discuss the futures of technology and journalism. The session, officially titled “Communication for a Digital Globe,” was taped by KETC/Channel 9 of St. Louis for future broadcast. University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee hosted the roundtable, and Russ Mitchell, BJ ’82, of CBS News moderated the discussion. The seven panelists were

  • Carol Loomis, Senior Editor at Large, Fortune;
  • Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility;
  • Sue Bostrom, Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cisco;
  • David Dorman, Chairman of the Board, Motorola, Inc.;
  • Mark Hoffman, President, CNBC;
  • Amy McCombs, President and CEO, Women’s Foundation of California;
  • Dave Senay, President and CEO, Fleishman-Hillard.

Below are some of the best of the comments offered by these experts. (I say “some” because to capture all the great insights would be an impossible task.)


On the future of handheld wireless devices (Blackberries, iPhones, etc.):

“Devices will be more complex and yet simpler to use.” —de la Vega

“Technology evolves in step functions, not always smoothly.” —Dorman

“We have to have both the content and the devices together.” —Bostrom

“I think it’s (wireless communication) making the world smaller. It’s making the world more accessible.” —Hoffman

“If the market sees value in the new apps, they’ll survive.” —Hoffman

“If you build it, they will come, and they will find it.” —Hoffman


On the mainstream media:

“When I graduated, there was no such word as ‘convergence.'” —Mitchell

“The mainstream media have got their head out of the sand and have really started to move forward. … Look at where the elephants are dancing—and you want to make sure they’re dancing and not rushing at you. … I think we have a lot of those elephants at this table.” —McCombs

“There have been many times in history where (people said) the mainstream media would be dead. … I think none of it will die. I think all of it will change. There will be written word … on paper. There will be written word … on wireless devices.” —Hoffman

“I probably have my feet stuck in the mud of the mainstream media more than anyone else (on the panel), and I can tell you, we’re trying to slog out of it. … There’s always going to be a market for trusted information, but the question is who’s gonna pay for it.” —Loomis

“You will see our students inventing the future of journalism (at the new Reynolds Journalism Institute).” —audience member Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism

“Where the quality comes in is (in) the analysis, in the thorough discussion of what’s going on. … If we do let ourselves get away from that which is fundamental in journalism—and that is telling the story—we’re going to have a pretty boring society.” —Hoffman


On credibility:

“If you had to pick one thing, I think that’d be the one that you’d pick. … Credibility, which is quality, is at the center of every successful media (outlet).” —Hoffman

“Credibility, regardless of the medium you use, is important. … I think it is better … to just let the credibility sort itself out.” —de la Vega

“It’s the self-policing nature of the Internet.” —Bostrom


On citizen journalism:

“When I hear terms like ‘citizen journalist,’ it strikes me like ‘amateur physician.'” —Dorman

“I wonder if people are flocking to places of comfort, rather than places of tension, of dialogue.” —Senay

“The journalist today is engaged in a seminar and not in a one-way lecture anymore.” —McCombs

“Does it scare anyone that there are no gatekeepers? I know it scares me.” —Mitchell

“I can tell you I’ve been misquoted online as many times as I have in the traditional media.” —de la Vega

“The idea of the gatekeeper is very frightening. … The role of the journalist is really the curator, helping (the reader) to wander through the vast array (of information).” —McCombs


On future communications and interactions among people:

“It’s not about the power of physical connection, it’s about the human network.” —Bostrom

“Informing people, persuading people, and connecting people with people—that sounds like a great description of the Internet.” —Senay

“The market itself, the killer application, is still people talking to each other.” —Dorman

“I was talking to an 18-year-old who thought e-mail was passé.” —McCombs


Advice for current students in the J-school:

“Consider the mainstream media notion a pretty elastic notion.” —Senay

“This is a great time to be in school here. … Be the risk-taker and an entrepreneur.” —McCombs

“Journalism is going to be with us forever. … It’s gonna be more complicated. You’re gonna have to have all the fundamental skills. … It’s gonna get more complicated on one end, but it’s got to stay as pure as its ever been on the other.” —Hoffman

“The opportunity all of you have is to become an expert.” —Bostrom

“Don’t run away from the challenges. Inside every challenge is an opportunity.” —de la Vega

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Sprouting Interest in Agricultural Journalism

Posted by Jill Kline on September 12, 2008

Although agricultural journalism is not technically part of the journalism school, the achievements are just as numerous and noteworthy as those in any other journalism sequence. The Agriculture Journalism reunion was a chance for students and alumni to celebrate successes and discuss the future of Agricultural Journalism.

The Thursday evening get-together included food and fellowship as well as presentations from faculty and current students. Proud grins spread across the faces of attendees as Tom Payne, Vice Chancellor for Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, spoke about the most recent developments of the school, which included a new focus area on Food and Wine.

Current Agricultural Journalism major and president of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Rachel Duff, also spoke. She recognized the many Mizzou Ag-J students who placed in the national Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Critique and Awards. Overall, Mizzou students brought in over twelve different awards.

Agricultural Journalism may not be well-known yet; but it is definitely a growing interest. The school boasts their largest number of students ever, and with new advancements each year the trend shows no sign of stopping.


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Dedication of the New Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Posted by Becky Dale on September 12, 2008

Long before the start of the dedication ceremony, I bustle through the doors of the Reynolds Journalism Institute only to find myself bombarded with journalists, friends, family, and distant relations from all sides. The girl at the door gave me one of those tired smiles that have become such a rarity in the past few days. I guess the festivities have been wearing on her.

I, however, felt that surge of adrenaline akin to the start of the Mizzou football games, but on a different level. The excitement in the room was intoxicating. Mingling would be more accurately described as apologetically pushing and shoving to reach a place where I could see the podium as well as the then-covered Donald W. Reynolds bust.

Dean Mills, his face projected across the four plasma screens on the wall in the opening between the first floor and the Futures Lab below, began the ceremony with the exact time that had passed since the opening of the Missouri School of Journalism, down to the hour. Standing on this monumental day in the RJI, Mills pronounced it a “new institution for this century.” And indeed it should be.

After a significant list of the key players in the coordination, planning, and construction of the RJI, and after a few words from various leaders in Mizzou’s world of journalism, director of the Journalism Institute Pam Johnson introduced a video depicting five Donald W. Reynolds Fellows projects underway behind RJI doors.

Bill Densmore of the University of Massachussets-Amherst recognizes the Internet as a terribly convenient, though sometimes overall terrible, source of information. His goal in “The Information Valet” is to secure the internet for users, thus maximizing convenience as well as privacy. This work will sustain the credibility of journalism.

Margaret Duffy of the Strategic Communications department at MU found herself observing the youth market of today. With youth and young adults accessing information in such a different manner from even one generation before, Duffy plans to answer the question of why harness that information for the expansion of journalism.

Mike Fancher, retired president of the Seattle Times, chose to focus on the Journalism Creed. While the creed itself is upstanding even in today’s world, he admits to some new elements that desperately need to be added. These standards are the same for which the public holds journalists accountable, and an updating public has updated standards. Technology will find its way into the creed.

Jen Reeves has been “a pioneer in using non-traditional delivery sources…in order to deliver content,” claims the Centennial/Dedication Program. However, these non-traditional ways are used every day for the personal use of non-journalists. Jen sees, indeed takes part, in the use of these sources and has founded her own multimedia, multi-platform news hub which she calls SmartDecision08.com. This hub aims to push the collaboration of multimedia projects and the newsroom. This will ultimately expand the options of journalism and hopefully profits as well.

Jane Stevens came to MU from the University of California, Berkeley with specialization in science and technology. She plans to create what she calls “shells,” networks that encourage the collaboration of community members and journalists. Two current shells focus on ocean news and information and on child trauma. While the reporters serve as fact-checkers and viable sources, communities are able to use these shells as means to help address and solve issues.

Deputy Web editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Matt Thompson plans to make good use of the bane of all English teachers–Wikipedia. Tentatively called “Wikipedia-ing the News,” Thompson hopes to create a news base as extensive as Wikipedia, with more reliable sources: the very reporters who put the facts in circulation to begin with.

Chancellor Brady Deaton stood to congratulate Mizzou for the addition of its new building and to insist “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Journalism students working out of this state-of-the art building have greater commitments and responsibilities in store for them.

President Gary Forsee applauded the great accomplishment of the faculty and administration. Their leadership and skills have set Mizzou as a model for other universities. The RJI will “lead the journalism school to greater distinction.”

Words from the Board of Curators, Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman, and Governor Matt Blunt are not to be shoved aside. All three spoke of the integrity and innovation that the RJI now stands for and the traditions that must be carried on by current and future journalism students.

Perhaps the most revered guest of all, though, was Fred W. Smith, Chairman of the Reynolds Foundation. The Alumni Center, dedicated in 1992, was the last building that Don Reynolds himself saw make its beginnings on the Mizzou campus. Smith shared heartwarming stories about Don’s attachment to MU, particularly the tigers, and his hope that the RJI would “perpetuate the entrepreneurial spirit” of Mizzou’s journalism students–the world’s finest.

Mr. Smith ended his speech to  a standing ovation on the part of the room that was not already standing. Dean Mills took the opportunity to invite everyone to watch the unveiling of the bust, and so ended the dedication. Alumni then adjourned to share in some of their favorite MU-famous Tiger Stripe ice cream and to continue talking and networking.

The Centennial’s Closing Ceremony at 8pm would be a bittersweet farewell for some, but the mark of a new beginning for all.

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Developments of the Future (The Final Chapter)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Cimarron Buser and Coverleaf.com

Cimarron Buser presented http://www.coverleaf.com which is technically still in beta- the site will launch officially this coming Monday, the 15th of September. Coverleaf is the future of the magazine industry, made up of digital magazines. Coverleaf offers digital editions for current subscribers to magazines as well as a wide range of options along the lines of sharing articles with others, clipping, organizing into what essentially amounts to folders, and printing them. All magazines are expected to cost $.99 an issue and Buser thus appropriately referred to it as “The iTunes of magazines.” It is to be used as a support mechanism for the print magazine industry and is a very effective tool with the incredibly range of magazines available.

Igor Smirnoff and PressDisplay

Igor Smirnoff’s presentation consisted of (and it needed little explanation beyond this) him simply showing us how a user would do things on http://www.pressdisplay.com. It contains over 800 newspapers from over 80 countries that are constantly updated in real time so that the latest editions are available. Papers can be translated instantly into 12 different languages, there is a text-to-voice option to allow the paper to be “listened” to, they can be printed, shared, and commented on (if registered).

It also contains a unique feature called a “reading map” that displays what is read most (understood by color) with each page split into 300 squares and it is also updated in real time. It contains what are called “adgets,” an advertising widget, to help fund the site. The search functions of the site scour all 800+ newspapers and you can have the site search on its own for a term multiple times in each day and deliver you notifications about the term when something new is published about said term.

It costs $10 a month to subscribe to pressdisplay.com, which sounds very appealing to students who miss news from home, such as the Kansas City Star. Of course, for some reason, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is available all over campus but the Star is nowhere to be found.

Wayne Reuvers and LiveTechnology’s LiveAdMaker

Wayne Reuvers could not make it and so his boss filled in for him. Can’t imagine that is scoring him too many points at work, but his reasons could be very valid and it is not for me to judge.

Live Technology’s primary business is to provide “solutions that assist in the process of marketing.” Ad building, of course, is the massive portion of this and thus LiveAdMaker was developed. It can be accessed at http://www.liveadmaker.com and it is exactly what it sounds like.

LiveAdMaker is convenient and easy to use and allows fewer people to make more advertisements. It is a full-service end-to-end marketing solution and can create ads for many different mediums including newspaper, online, and television. Its format is simple; however, there seemed to be a number of nuances that would take training to work through. Overall it appeared very useful for companies looking for an easy way to get more advertisements out quickly.

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Developments of the Future (Part 3)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Jon Cook and VML’s SEER

Jon Cook, president of VML Industries and an MU graduate explained the workings of VML and its biggest project, SEER. VML is 100% digital and deals in eCommerce, working with large companies such as Sprint, Hallmark, and Microsoft.

VML’s main project, SEER, allows users to understand what websites are most influential based on interaction among them. Each website is represented by a ball and there are lines that link balls that represent interaction. Different colors of lines represent stronger influence and when millions of websites are combined it gives the effect of atoms and molecules floating in space. The graphics and movement make it visually appealing but the main point is that an advertiser with the kind of information SEER provides gains a huge edge over its competitors.

Cook provided the example of the XBox 360 vs. the PS3. The PS3 was predicted to trounce its competition; however, Microsoft was simply too crafty. With the help of SEER, Microsoft located the 40 most influential bloggers about the PS3, gave them an exclusive look at the 360, allowed them to test it and generally made the case for it over the PS3. The bloggers loved it, wrote about it, and their influence contributed to what is currently 10.4 million XBox 360s sold compared to only 2.45 million PS3s.

Cook left us with this nugget of knowledge: Understanding who influences your consumers is now mandatory for success in business.

Channing Dawson and Scripps Networks’ Frontdoor.com

Channing Dawson, an employee of HGTV (and the larger Scripps Networks), informed his audience immediately that 9 of the top 10 shows on HGTV are about real-estate (with 700,000 viewers at any given time), in large part due to the struggling market. Because of its popularity, then, HGTV decided it would be even more effective to reach this audience wanting to hear about real-estate by combining the online medium with television. Thus, http://www.frontdoor.com was launched to compete with realtor.com and other similar websites.

3.5 million homes are currently listed on FrontDoor and it was only launched 9 months ago. Certain TV shows from HGTV are aired on the website as well and the plan for the future is to incorporate the home listings with HGTV’s shows. Local listings would appear on the bottom of the screen so that if a home-buyer happens to be watching, it can be paused at any point and looked up on frontdoor.com.

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A Missourian reporter walked into a bar…

Posted by Eva Dou on September 12, 2008

…and got a hot, hot story. 

I thought I’d share this. Here’s the story of the story as related by Randy Smith ’74, Director of Strategic Development at the Kansas City Star, when he talked to Daniel Maxson and myself this morning. Mr. Smith tells it better, but our flip camera unfortuitously ran out of memory at the exactly wrong time. 

One Saturday in 1974, Randy Smith was awakened at 6 a.m. with a slight hangover, by Missourian City Editor Tom Duffy: “Wake up, you’ve got a front page story to write.” A plane had crashed in a local field. The pilot and passenger had miraculously survived, but were nowhere to be found.

After a fruitless search for the pair, Smith returned to the news room, head hanging. Wise Duffy asked, “Where the hell do you think you’d be if you’d just crashed your plane? You’d be in a bar.”

So Smith started checking out local bars, and sure enough found the pilot and passenger having a drink at the Holiday Inn. He got the interviews.

“My story was stripped to the top of the Missourian the next day,” Smith said. 

A lesson in creative thinking and listening to wise editors.

Coincidentally, our other interviewee today, Argentine journalism professor, freelancer and former EU reporter Carolina Escudero, also advocated bars as a potential source of stories.

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