What once began as a broad idea about college completion vs. enrollment eventually turned into a story on graduation rates in relation to MU.
It was sort of a dead time in terms of articles I was working on and was simply hungry for another story. Having little experience with creating my own story ideas, it took much longer than I had expected. The difficulty was narrowing down the topic and being able to make it newsworthy and pertinent to an audience in Columbia.
I spent a lot of time gathering graduation and enrollment numbers from all Big XII schools because I thought this would be a good way to group the information and put it into context. This was also the first story where I submitted graphics to represent the numbers. Just reading them would have been quite boring and would have had no meaning.
The next task was personalizing this story. If I could put a face on graduation rates, it would add depth and personality to the story but where I could find someone who spent more than five years as an undergrad? Twitter.
Using social media through the Missourian, I was able to find someone that spent 7.5 years as an undergrad. 7.5 years! This was just what I needed to represent how more than 50% of MU students don’t graduate within four years.
In the end I ended up with something entirely different than what I had imagined. Probably one of my top 3 learning experiences because I had to go where the story took me instead of ending up where I thought I would. I had to adapt to the changes in the reporting process and develop a story that readers would find pertinent to themselves. It wasn’t a story that had to be published immediately and because of I think it ranked lower on the newsworthy scale. But to my surprise it made front page and even received a comment online.