Multimedia Musings

by Christopher J. Spurlock

“This is a Teaching Moment”

This week was a long one, to say the least. On Friday, my partner and I were assigned to what we thought was a compelling story about how light pollution can affect military night training operations. We were promised access to both Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood, and we were really excited to get so close to the action and do some real reporting. We spent all day Friday, part of the weekend, and all day Monday contacting sources and lining up interviews.

Then, Tuesday came. And everything fell apart.

Our sources, seemingly all at once, backed out on us. They gave a myriad of excuses and apologies, but it didn’t make us feel any better. It was Tuesday afternoon, our story was due in 48 hours, and we had nothing.

We spent a good couple of hours brainstorming with our professor, and eventually we decided on a story idea. It was weak, but it was something. We were told it was a “teaching moment,” and that we were to do our best to create the best story with whatever we could find. Read more of this post

Another ‘Crappy’ Story

I’ve run across some bad luck recently, and it involves the stories I’ve been covering. Somehow, each of my last two radio stories for KBIA radio have in some way involved…poop. Defecation. Excretory functions. CRAP.

My last story involved fish that ate algae and secreted it, which allowed scientists to harvest the algae and extract biofuel from it. Cool, but also disgusting.

In my most recent radio piece, I covered another Mizzou scientist doing some unique research that also involved feces. Keith Goyne, a professor in Mizzou’s School of Natural Resources, found a way to keep veterinary antibiotics out of drinking water.

You see, when farm animals eat food that contains antibiotics, most of the antibiotics in the food aren’t absorbed into their bodies. Instead, they excrete them. And when that animal manure is used for fertilizer, it seeps into the soil. And then when it rains, the antibiotics in the manure wash out and end up in streams, rivers, lakes, etc.

So Goyne is putting ‘buffer strips’ of strategically grown grass and/or plants around the farmland to keep those antibiotics from contaminating the drinking water. You can listen to my story about it below…

Click on the link to listen —> BUFFERS0216.mp3

In other news, this was officially my final story for the radio station, as I worked my last shift Wednesday. I’ll be moving on to the Columbia Missourian in a few weeks, so keep on the lookout for either a print story or some type of multimedia piece.

Thanks for reading!

Bill Nye, Where Are You When I Need You?

This week was another “team story” week in reporting class, which means I was placed in a group with two of my fellow convergence journos and assigned a story. The story we pitched and were selected to cover was about a researcher here at Mizzou by the name of David Brune. He’s doing some really interesting research with algae and, with the help of some sea creatures, has figured out how to extract oil from the algae to make biofuel. Cool, no? The only problem was…I hate science.

I’ve always been a very right-brained guy, interested in music and art and words. And when it came to math and science, I wanted nothing to do with it. The Bill Nye videos were about the only things that could get me to understand and be interested in science. So as you can imagine, this was a difficult story for me to work on. Not only were the concepts and terms involved in the story complex, but we had to figure out a way to write our radio script in a way that the average person would understand…because in radio, you only get to hear it once. There’s no rereading like in newspaper, so if you don’t get it the first time, you’re screwed confused.

We worked really hard on the story, and I think the end result is something I can be proud of. It’s definitely an improvement over my first team story, so that’s encouraging. Below is the link to the audio story, as well as some pictures we took.


Click the link to listen! –> algaeasbiofuel.mp3

SnowMO

I awoke this morning to find it was snowing once again. If I were to count the number of days it’s snowed this winter, I’d probably use all of my fingers and maybe a few toes, too. It’s been pretty miserable. Today, however, wasn’t too brutal. The wind was almost nonexistent, and the temperatures stayed in the upper 20s. And the snow that fell was absolutely beautiful.

We had a lecture today about photography, and seeing as how I’m still playing with and learning my new camera, I decided to go out and shoot a few photos around campus. My professor told us that shooting pictures in the snow was a pain in the ass pretty challenging, but I decided to give it a try. Below are the five best shots I grabbed today.

Please share your thoughts!




A Leap of Faith into the Terrifying World of Real News

So, this week marked the beginning of my shifts at the various news outlets run by the j-school. My first reporting shift was scheduled to be at KBIA radio, Columbia’s local NPR affiliate. To be completely honest, I was extremely nervous when I headed to my first shift. Even though I had been trained to use all of the equipment I needed, I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the challenges I would face at the station.

At my first story pitch meeting I pitched a story about Ricky Kreklow, a basketball player at Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School who is headed to Mizzou in the fall. I did some preliminary research on Kreklow and made a few phone calls, and was granted access to cover Rock Bridge’s game against Jefferson City and interview Kreklow and his father after the game. I took a Marantz and my new Nikon D70 and headed to Jefferson City. I was there for a long time, but I got some great interviews and natural sound.

I then spent yesterday and today editing the audio down, and I think I wound up with a decent story. It’s posted below. Give it a listen and tell me what you think!

KREKLOW0204.mp3

We also got feedback on our first team story this week. We received a decent grade on the story, but more importantly we learned a lot from our mistakes. Below is the video package we put together.

Local Research Group to Study the Bond Between Humans and Animals from Chris Spurlock on Vimeo.

Oh, I shot some photos, too! Here they are:

Hello world!

Just getting started with the blogging thing! Check back regularly for updates…