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Overall Excellence Entry for 2015 Murrow Awards

Above you will find the official audio submission. Below you will see time codes to denote where you will hear which stories in the audio, with links to the original stories posted online. You will hear short beeps to denote the separation between pieces. There is also supplemental material for some pieces when appropriate.

How Columbia Could be More Segregated than Ferguson (00:00-03:03)


Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, KBIA’s Bram Sable Smith analyzed the racial dynamics of Columbia 10 months before the community and University of Missouri campus were thrust into the national spotlight for race issues. Story shortened for the purpose of this competition.

Graduate Students Discuss Next Steps After Losing Health Insurance Subsides (03:03 – 04:30) http://kbia.org/post/graduate-students-discuss-next-steps-after-losing-health-insurance

Student-led protests were fairly common on the University of Missouri campus during 2015 long before the demands of Concerned Student 1950 were issued in November. One of the first incidents of student activism happened in August of 2015 when, just a few days before classes started, graduate students were told via email that their health insurance subsidies were being canceled due to an obscure ruling by the IRS.

We reported on this event the day it occurred, and over the next few days the story become more involved. So we spoke with experts from the American Council on Education and other organizations, numerous graduate students and the University administration. After a few days, we put together an explainer radio feature about the complex nature of the story, but within hours of the story airing the university decided to reverse their decision in regard to health insurance subsidies – and just like that, subsidies were restored.

But the story did not end there. We had conversations with the University’s administration and attended a student forum about the subsidies because the University didn’t re-implement the subsidies for good, but instead created a Task Force to look at the options the school had. For the course of five months, we made sure to stay on top of this story and report the periodic progress that took place. We tried to provide context on this complex subject matter and tried to let the voice of disgruntled and concerned graduate students be heard. These protests laid the groundwork for the Concerned Student 1950 protests. Story shortened for the purpose of this competition.

(04:30-05:50)10:00 a.m. newscast on November, 9, 2015 that aired just before UM System President Tim Wolfe’s resignation. Shortened for the purpose of the competition.

(05:50-06:28) Live broadcast of the resignation of Tim Wolfe. Shortened for the purpose of the competition.

(06:20-07:50) November 9, 2015 Noon newscast, The official entry in the newscast category for KBIA

(07:50-09:55) Excerpts from the half hour program “Intersection,” which aired at 6:00 p.m. the same day as the resignations and demonstrations.  Shortened for the purpose of the competition. Complete show here: http://kbia.org/post/intersection-voices-historic-monday-university-missouri

(09:55-13:56) Reporter Reflects on Being Inside Confrontation Between Reporters and MU Demonstrators


A first-person account by KBIA reporter Bram Sable-Smith, detailing his presence in the confrontation between journalists and demonstrators over efforts to document the students on campus.

(13:56-14:38) A Conversation with Tim Tai


KBIA’s Bram-Sable Smith spoke with Tim Tai, and they discussed what it was like finding themselves in the middle of a struggle over First Amendment Rights that garnered National Attention. Half hour interview shortened for the purpose of the competition.

(14:38 – 18:41) Mizzou Football Sets Precedent for Student Athlete Activism


Shortened for the purpose of the competition.

(18:41 - 22:36) Shortage in Rich Land, Part 4. Shortened for contest.

Special Web build out: http://digital.kbia.org/shortage-in-rich-land

Link to story list of all five parts: http://kbia.org/topic/shortage-rich-land

At the end of January 2015, KBIA sent reporters down to southeast Missouri to open the “Bootheel” bureau. Their job was to tackle the stories taking place in the towns, fields and health clinics of Missouri’s most productive farmland. We aired five stories during out local broadcasts of Morning Edition and All Things Considered during a week in March.

Significant time and effort was put into the web component of the series. We utilized the Creatavist platform to turn the series into an engaging multimedia vertical, which you’ll see in the link. We also included a link to the topic page for the series on KBIA.org

Because the Missouri Bootheel is so sparsely populated and falls between media markets on the map, there is very little coverage of the issues faced there, which are amongst some of the most dire in the state. The public reception to our coverage of this regional has been overwhelming. Numerous other public radio stations in Missouri have aired our stories and shared our web build out. Reporters returned to the bootheel this May for more newsgathering, and plan to return later this year.

Other KBIA staff also visited the area May 20th to host a forum in the community to discuss many of the issues brought up in the reporting, and discuss solution to problems like access to health care and an exceptionally high infant mortality rate. Those in the audience included two Missouri state representatives, mayors and city councilmembers of the small towns in the region, and numerous public health providers and officials.

(22:36-29:08) 1,723 Patients


A special 15 minute documentary telling the stories of the people that took advantage of a free two-day oral health clinic in Columbia, and in the process telling the story of the challenges for this kind of care in the state. Shortened significantly for the purposes of the contest.

(29:08 - 34:10) Why the Business Loop CID Faltered, and Tax Workaround it Exposed


When property owners in commercial neighborhoods in Missouri want to clean up their block, they sometimes turn to creating special tax districts.  These districts use tax hikes to pay for aesthetic and safety improvements. And because of a Missouri law, property owners can push through tax hikes without a vote of the people -- so long as no registered voters live in the boundaries of the district.

That’s what happened in Columbia’s Business Loop 70 neighborhood. Property owners got together to create a district to generate money to beautify and enhance safety in the rundown, dated strip of the community that lines Business Loop 70.

They gerrymandered the district border, cutting out all residential parcels of land. That way, there would be no voters living in the district and they could push through a half cent sales tax. Before they could do that, one voter was discovered by the county clerk. When the news broke, all local outlets jumped on the narrative that a sole college student living in the district had the power to approve or deny a sales tax of half a cent for the area.

We initially set up to create a map showcasing the location of the registered voters who were cut out of the district but would still be directly impacted by a tax increase when they shopped at the stores for food or clothes. After spending a few weeks tracking down all the voter data, district maps, geocodes and then mapping the locations, we noticed there were actually 13 other registered voters with addresses inside of the district.

Then came hours on the phone and multiple back and forth emails with the Boone County Clerk. Once she confirmed our data was correct, we broke our story which BROKE the narrative  everyone else believed to be true. There were actually 14 registered voters living in the district. Miscommunications and some sloppy work by city and county officials had led everyone to believe that there was only one voter. Here’s the web story we posted with this revelation:


Once we discovered the additional voters, public concern grew about how the board members were able to gerrymander the district lines.

We released a follow up report hashing out how the situation escalated, how we discovered the new voters, an analysis of the Missouri statute that allows taxation without representation, along with interviews with the board president, director and eligible voters. It was the most comprehensive coverage of the flaws and successes of community improvement districts.

Ultimately, the election was held and the sales tax passed. But the initial voter discovered has challenged the methods of the election with a lawsuit, calling into question the Missouri Community Improvement District Act which we shed light on in our coverage.

Our reporting through the use of advanced data mapping tools, which was intended originally for purely a digital audience, uncovered additional voters who were unaware of their voice in a sales tax election. In turn, our reporting redefined the election and exposed sloppy work done by city and county officials. We changed the narrative that was so attractive to news organizations (a single voter) and fact checked it to reflect the truth (14 voters). Other news outlets had to change their story and cite KBIA’s investigative research for uncovering the new voters.

(34:10-  36:46) Overlooked and Underserved in Southwest Missouri, part 4

Story post: http://kbia.org/post/few-other-options-rural-missouri-county-relies-head-start-gateway-medical-care

Link to full five-part series: http://kbia.org/topic/overlooked-and-underserved-southwest-missouri

Story shortened for purposes of this contest.

McDonald County is the southwestern most corner of Missouri. Most people – including a large number of native Missourians – would not be able to point out McDonald County on a map of Missouri and most people are not aware of the numerous issues the county residents face.

The county is an extremely rural community of just more than 22,000 residents, so it is not all that shocking that there would be barriers to access like transportation, access to healthcare professionals and insure. According to the County Health Rankings, the county consistently ranks near the bottom in the state for clinical care, which factors in things like percentage uninsured, access to doctors, preventable hospital stays and preventative screenings.

But this community deals with more than just typical rural community issues with access. Over the past few years, many immigrants and refugees have been moving into the county to work at the chicken processing plants in the community. There are two towns in McDonald County that are near or more than 50% Hispanic, and one town, Noel, also has been the place of settlement for more than 300 Somali refugees. In 2015, there were 11 languages spoken in the Noel primary school.  

Due to the confluence of numerous health barriers, language barriers and general lack of awareness of the community, we decided to spend a few days in the county reporting on the major issues facing its residents.

These were people that truly had never had their stories shared and seemed both excited and nervous about the microphone that I carried. For instance, one evening KBIA’s Rebecca Smith walked from apartment to apartment with a Somali gentlemen, who speaks six languages, and spoke with Somali women, Somali men and Sudanese men with his translating assistance.

We also spoke with some incredibly dedicated public health workers who were fighting to improve the situation in McDonald County, and that, since the reporting trip, have actually managed to increase the number of doctors available to the community. These includes the health department director, the WIC coordinator, the director of a community college satellite campus that was training new nurses and several educators. 

KBIA aired five stories -  about lack of healthcare access, lack of medical professionals, lack of nutritional education, discriminatory policing of the black, Muslim Somali population, and an audio commentary full of the varied voices from McDonald County.  The series “Overlooked and Underserved in Southwest Missouri” aired over the course of a few weeks. One story would play every few days. The stories were also shared with other stations throughout Missouri, and several stations aired the series in its entirety.

(36:46 – 41:30) Looking to Settle Down, Immigrant Farmworkers Face Housing Crisis


Story shortened for the purpose of this contest.

The contest description also asked that we include evidence of web-based content. Here are a few examples:

Access Missouri:

KBIA news director Ryan Famuliner is the founder and creator of Access Missouri. Famuliner collaborated with the MU Informatics Institute to create the site. In Missouri, there is a significant amount of information about the state legislature that is almost completely unsearchable on state government sites, because of the way it is stored – almost exclusively on .pdfs as daily journals. Before this project, getting comprehensive information on basic legislative action - a legislator’s voting records, attendance, bill sponsorship information, etc. - required hours of research spent poring through these documents.

Importantly, Missouri is the only state in the country that has no limits on individual campaign contributions or lobbyist gifts. There is significant need for awareness of the flow of money in state politics, and for the press and public to serve as watchdogs. This project opens up that information, creating a whole new level of transparency to the public.

Here are links to examples of some of the interesting features Famuliner directed developers to create to highlight important information in the data:




Development of the Access Missouri continues, and developers have been sharing information with reporters interested in launching similar projects in other states. The project is also currently undergoing a significant relaunch ahead of the 2016 election.

Here Say:   http://kbia.org/topic/here-say

Drawing inspiration from projects such as Humans of New York, Localore and Storycorps, Here Say is an experiment in community storytelling. We hoped that by going out into the community each week and collecting stories from locations that inherently have people whose voices would not typically be heard on KBIA, we can create a causal relationship, attracting new listeners. These listeners would stem from not only the individuals we met while out collecting stories, but a new group of listeners who are more inclined to listen to a program where life experiences similar to their own are represented.

Here Say is comprised of three main parts: a weekly radio show, a podcast and an interactive web application. The four minute radio show airs twice weekly, and the Here Say podcast is available on iTunes under KBIAFM.

Here Say and the interactive map web application is hosted on KBIA’s website. While the show only airs between three or four of the stories we’ve collected from that week, the interactive map is populated with all of the location’s stories.

The producers that worked on Here Say were invited to present their project at the annual Journalism Interactive conference and at the Reynolds Journalism Institute Tech Showcase.

“Exploring the Paths of Missouri’s Special Education”

This special five part series aired on KBIA: http://kbia.org/topic/exploring-paths-missouris-special-education

But we also put together a completely separate web build out made especially for a  digital audience, using Atavist: http://digital.kbia.org/exploring-the-paths-of-missouris-special-education

“True/False Conversations”  http://kbia.org/programs/truefalse-conversations

This is a series of interviews with directors of documentaries that screen at the world-renown “True False Film Festival” in Columbia. The interviews air and are posted online in the weeks before the festival begins.

4 Things You Might Have Wrong About the Mizzou Story: http://kbia.org/post/4-things-you-might-have-wrong-about-mizzou-story

Amidst a flurry of national stories about the events on the University of Missouri campus, erroneous or incomplete reporting was rampant. KBIA sought to clean up some of that reporting with this web-only story. It worked, the post had more than 100,000 page views in 3 days.