Posts Tagged ‘University of Missouri-Columbia’

 One of the things I love about being a reporter is the opportunity to take complex ideas and write about them in ways that ordinary people — like me — can understand.

What makes that even nicer is when I get to work with someone who understands that examples make abstract ideas more concrete, which makes them easier to understand.

When I was asked to write about this $6.8 million, two-year award to the University of Missouri from the federal government, at first I thought, “Oh, no.” The awarding agency’s name took up nearly a paragraph, which is usually a bad sign for being able to make something complex clear and easy to understand in an article.

But I lucked out — I interviewed Grant Savage, Ph.D., head of the University of Missouri School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Informatics.

He was willing and able to explain the award in simple terms, with examples. The problem  is physicians’ records are all in paper, so if you want to know something  you have to read through a file and might or might not find what you need to know. Savage’s project will help physicians find out how to use software and hardware to go digital. It’s more than just plopping a laptop onto a doctor’s desk.

Read about Savage’s project and how it will help people like me — patients — and Missouri doctors in this article in the Columbia Business Times.

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As a journalist, I hate making mistakes. I do my best to make sure none ever get in print, but sometimes it happens.

Most recently it happened with the article, “City Chicks,” written with David Reed published in the Columbia Business Times. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the name of a source, Mary Stilwell, was misspelled in some instances.

As regretable as this mistake is, however, the most important things are to acknowledge mistakes do happen and to note what I do to make sure mistakes are kept to a minimum.

For starters, I practice something I learned at the University of Missouri-Columbia — accuracy checking. This involves asking a source if she or he would like to review the article and/or their quotes before the article goes to print.

I figure if I’m afraid to let a source read an article before it goes to print, maybe I’m not as confident in my facts as I should be.

Of course, sometimes this process can go awry, such as when a source decides to try to edit the work, beyond checking it for accuracy. This is rare, but when it happens, I ask the person if the information is accurate. If the answer is yes, we may discuss the other changes requested, but the main focus for me is on accuracy.

Sometimes, despite my best efforts and those of others, a mistake will slip through. When it does, I am comforted to know that everyone makes mistakes — even the illustrious New York Times. For example, on April 20, 2010, the newspaper published six corrections for its A section. I am sure every single one of those New York Times reporters were cringing that morning.

I also remember what I used to tell my journalism students back when I taught at MU — the good news and the bad news about journalism is we get to try to do it again only better with the next article.

Finally, I apologize to the source, in this case Mary Stilwell.

So, as noted, it’s time to get back to work on that next article — after I apologize to Mary Stilwell.

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