There’s a Method to the madness

Welcome to the fall 2014 reporting class, and welcome to the Missourian + Vox. You are about to embark on a very unusual educational experience, one that began in 1908 when Walter Williams, the founder of the J-School and quite possibly the creator of journalism education, helped students put out the first issue of the University Missourian.

You’ve heard about the Missouri Method. Now you are about to live it.

Here’s the thing (and maybe you won’t believe me until it’s all over, or maybe even years from now): It works. Trust me on that.

You’re going to have hours, maybe even days where you want to chuck it in and go home to take over the family plumbing supply business. Or whatever. But if you really want to spend some time inside the watchworks of real journalism and learn how to make the gears move, you’re absolutely in the right place. And whether you decide to become some kind of journalist or not, what you’ll learn this semester (if you fully engage) will be useful to you. You’ll learn how to research and vet information; you’ll improve your critical thinking skills; you’ll learn to be more self-directed; and you will, of course, improve your communication skills — all of them.

Stuff to remember:

  1. Think like a reporter 24-7 for the 16 weeks, and you will never lack for stories.
  2. Always carry a pen and a pad of paper and a fully charged smartphone, if you’ve got one. News can happen anywhere, anytime (see #1).
  3. Listen more carefully than you ever have in your life. Start by listening to your editor. Your editor wants you to succeed.
  4. Hang out in the newsroom between classes and whenever you’ve got free time, and good stuff will happen to you. Not the least of which is that you’ll make some cool new friends and get the free pizza and cake when it magically appears.
  5. Give people something they’re dying to share and they’ll repay you with their attention and maybe even some loyalty.

Good reporting is harder than it looks in the movies (with the possible exception of All the President’s Men) but it’s also a lot of fun. I mean it.

See you in the newsroom.



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