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DEAR READER: Your stories make us better

Friday, May 4, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:31 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 14, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Missourian didn't have any reporters out following the intense storms that swept through Kansas a few weeks ago, but MU student Dustin Mazzio was there. He took some photos and video while storm chasing, and when he got back, he shared them with the newsroom. When we asked for more, he wrote a really compelling description as well.

We published his story, which was so good that it occupied the main display spot on our home page for a while. As an editor, I was thrilled to have it. Dustin offered a window into something most people don't get to (or aren't crazy enough to!) experience. Sounds like journalism to me.

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Since 2004, the Missourian has published stories straight from community members on MyMissourian.com. In February, the newspaper took a huge step in bringing those stories to the main website in a new section called From Readers.

Two months into the experiment, I'm absolutely thrilled with how it's going. Bringing the stories under the big umbrella of Missourian content, rather than segregating them on their own site, gives the newsroom the option to display them more prominently. The stories can appear alongside those from the newsroom's staff.

And when I talk about "stories" in the From Readers section, I use the term broadly. The section includes photos, poetry, event announcements, essays, etc. If you have something you'd like to share, it'll likely fit. Many of the submissions appear in print as well.

Don't consider yourself a writer? No problem — just a few sentences will do. And newsroom editors are happy to help hone your writing if you'd like them to. (The guide to submissions explains how we edit.)

Here are a few other recent examples:

  • A proud father, Darren Laupp, submitted a story about his daughter Rebekah signing a letter of intent to join a dive team in college for a Division II school. This is a small sports story that our reporters would likely not get to, and I'm thrilled to be able to share the news. A second proud parent shared a similar story. What successes would you like to see acknowledged?
  • An avid photographer, John Hall, has been sharing photos of his nature walks with us for years. What do you see through the lens of your camera? 
  • A family shared photos from a man's 80th birthday party. What family milestones might you want to share with the rest of us?

These are all stories that likely wouldn't have gotten covered otherwise, and the contributions have made the Missourian's overall report more complete.

So consider this your invitation to share. What do you wish the rest of the community knew more about? And would you consider telling us yourself?

New "supervising editor" notes

Regular readers might have noticed that articles now include a line at the end indicating the name of the supervising editor and how to contact that editor. It's designed to make it easy for you to connect with the newsroom. 

Student-journalists are supposed to be passing through, but the Missourian's staff of editors has long ties to the community. If you have questions or comments about the story, ideas for follow-up reporting or news tips, an editor can help.

The suggestion to add this line came out of the Missourian Readers Board this spring. Board members said they wished it were easier to know which editor to contact, and this is something we're trying in response. Let us know what you think.

Joy Mayer is the Missourian's director of community outreach.


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