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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Meet the members of the Readers Board

By Teri Finneman
October 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Members of the Readers Board include, top row: Celestine Hayes, John Pizzitola, Ruth Miluski and Toni Messina
Second row: Georgia Nolph, Scott Vince, Stephanie Fuchs and Pat Fowler.
Bottom row: Stefan Denson and John Schultz.

Dear reader,

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Last month, The Missourian extended an invitation to Columbia residents to serve on a Readers Board.

The goal is to improve the newspaper through public feedback as well as to educate the public about how a newspaper works.

The Missourian is pleased to announce the 10 members of the new Readers Board and looks forward to learning with them in the coming months.

The community should also see the benefits of the board as the Missourian continues to improve its coverage.

The members are:

Stefan Denson, 54. Denson is a senior civil rights specialist in the External Civil Rights Division at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Denson was formerly chairman of the Columbia Commission on Human Rights.

Pat Fowler, 50. Fowler works as a project coordinator in MU’s Office of Service-Learning. She is chairwoman of the Guiding Coalition and a middle-class ally with the Circles Initiative. She participates in mission work through her church and Love Inc. She also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Stephanie Fuchs, 33. Fuchs serves as legal counsel for construction company OCCI. She is an MU law school graduate and spent 10 years in the Columbia restaurant industry, including at Chris McD’s.

Celestine Hayes, 67. Hayes has worked as a music specialist at Ridgeway Elementary since 1972. She is a Columbia Values Diversity award winner, teaches Suzuki piano lessons and serves as music director at St. Luke United Methodist Church.

Toni Messina, 59. Messina earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from MU. She has served as communications director for the city of Columbia for 3½ years. She also has 27 years of experience working in all three branches of Missouri state government.

Ruth Miluski, 78. Miluski is retired. She worked for 24 years for the UM System, where she spent her final three years as coordinator of administrative services in the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Georgia Nolph, 71. Nolph is a retired physician and associate professor of Family and Community Medicine. She is active in her church by singing in the choir, working in the church library and serving as co-chairwoman of her United Methodist Women’s Circle. She is also co-chairwoman of a group of primarily retired business women. She is married and active with her grandchildren.

John Pizzitola, 26. Pizzitola is originally from St. Louis. He manages two bars in downtown Columbia and spent five years working in media relations for the MU athletics department. He graduated from MU in 2006.

John Schultz, 39. Schultz is a software tester for an Iowa-based technology company and is chairman of the Boone County Libertarian Party. He is married with two children.

Scott Vince, 53. Vince recently moved to Columbia from St. Louis. He is a nurse anesthetist in the anesthesiology department at MU. He is married with three children, two of whom are enrolled at MU.

At this month’s meeting, the group toured the newsroom and asked questions about the paper’s management and operations. The board also learned what qualities the media look for in news and more about the Missourian’s accuracy check policy.

At future meetings, Missourian editors will take turns talking about their areas of expertise (education, crime, photography, VOX, etc.) and will seek board input about what works and what could make the newspaper better.

The board is a pilot project here in Columbia that’s proved successful at other newspapers. In May, the board and the Missourian will evaluate how the project went to decide if it should continue next year with a new group of board members.

In the end, it’s all about serving you better.

Teri Finneman is a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism and is the coordinator for the Missourian Reader Board.