Community Outreach Team: More than a class
The Community Outreach Team at the Missourian is a team of 20 students dedicated to interacting and engaging with the community that we are tasked with telling the stories of and informing. I have had the opportunity to share our stories via social media outlets, reach out to community members to gain opinions and write about what matters to them, create projects to enhance engagement with certain segments of news, visit community events and learn about the city I live in, share the story of the Missourian and our goals with community members and so much more.
Not only have I gained analytics, social media and writing skills; I have gained a better understanding of the community I call home and the people in it.
Show Me Government
My favorite project has been the Show Me Government article that I have had the opportunity to maintain as part of our longterm project for the State Beat. The goal is to break down the hot topics in the capitol and simplify them for readers so they are informed and also have a better understanding of the body that governs them. I have learned a lot about the Missouri legislature myself from working on this project and have enjoyed seeing positive comments.
The state Capitol sprang back to life with the start of the new year. A lot has been going on in Jefferson City, and we…www.columbiamissourian.com
Community Conversations: Guns at the library
The Outreach Team worked on gathering community opinion when signage at the Columbia library changed to allow concealed carry in the building. We saw amazing success in gathering responses, but I liked that I got the opportunity to turn those responses into something that continued to inform the community. Reading through nearly 400 responses allowed me to understand the community I live in, but writing the article gave me opportunity to let the rest of the Community understand as well. Our job is not to gather responses, it’s to inform and facilitate conversation and I feel like this project did just that.
On Feb. 17, the Daniel Boone Regional Library changed its signage regarding firearms after threats of a lawsuit from…www.columbiamissourian.com
I had the opportunity to go to a local Kiwanis Club meeting and give a presentation about the Missourian and the Outreach Team. I’m not totally sure why I enjoyed this so much, but I think it was just getting to meet members of the community who aren’t college students and learn what is going on in their lives. It’s easy for students to forget that there is a world outside of the campus, so involving ourselves in Columbia activities is important. Many of the club members came up to me afterward and mentioned how informed they felt and I think it gave them a face and a physical connection to the paper. I also learned some things that are happening locally and met a lot of friendly faces.
Snapchat: Warm February weather
On an unusually warm February weekend I was tasked with figuring out how Columbia residents were enjoying the weather and sharing that on Snapchat. This assignment was enjoyable because I got to participate in the warm weather activities and learn where some favorite community spots were. I think Snapchat stories make the newspaper feel more human and help followers realize that we do live in the community and not just write stories about it.
I had the opportunity to cover breaking news a few times during my shifts running Missourian social media. One story that I found particularly interesting to follow was one of a plane crash that happened near Rocheport. I found this one different because the first news came via Twitter from official sources. I received information about the location and road closures by creating a Tweetdeck column and got to relay that to the editors who were trying to break the story. It also made it easy for me to communicate with the reporter who had went to the scene. I communicated with him through direct message on Twitter to get the photo for social. It was a really good example of how social media can be incorporated into a newsroom.
I was a little concerned with reaching out to readers for submissions for the Missourian’s “From Readers” section, but I ended up really enjoying this project. One of the first people I reached out to was an organizer for an event called Molly’s Miles. This was a law enforcement sponsored 5K to support survivors of fallen officers. I ended up getting really lucky with my subject. I loved talking through the project with my contact and seeing it go from start to finish. I underestimated how impactful a from readers could be. This was a heartfelt story about a fallen Columbia police officer who left a lasting legacy, and I got to be the person to facilitate that story being told.
Bryana Larimer is a civilian employee with the Columbia Police Department. She did not have the opportunity to meet…www.columbiamissourian.com
Live From the Capitol
The team I have been working on a long-term project with had the opportunity to use Facebook Live to promote state government projects we have been working on. We sat down with a state senator and asked questions about current legislation that many residents of the state have questions about. This was a good way to make government more transparent and bridging the gap between the people and their elected officials. It also gave our team some new skills.
One of our centerpiece projects at the Missourian was about local pinball players. This was a really fun and unique piece and lent itself to social. I was able to create a Tweet that featured the video but also linked to the article. Video can do really well on Twitter if it is catchy, which I believe the fun colors of the pinball machine provided. This was a niche topic, so it was important to share it with the community in my opinion.
Community Conversations: Higher ed budget cuts
Higher education is a hot topic in a college town. Large cuts to funding for our school and others in the state were announced when a new governor was sworn in. I noticed that the articles covering it were driving a lot of conversation, so I created a reader response Google Form to gather opinions on the topic. The reader opinion piece actually began even more conversation in the article’s comments and collected more comments than we ever see on other stories.
Here is a sampling of other posts I have written for Missourian social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter).