2016 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Newsroom finalist


About the Project

Mizzou at a Crossroads

KBIA covered the breaking news on the University of Missouri campus on November 9, 2015 thoroughly, winning a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for that coverage.

As often happens in these situations, the national narrative of what happened at the University of Missouri made a complex situation look simple. While KBIA continued its day-to-day coverage of the aftermath in late 2015 and early 2016, the entire staff also began work on a long-form series that would seek to provide some much-needed context.

The result was “Mizzou at a Crossroads.” The analysis of the “ghosts” of the University’s past present and future explored issues rarely touched by other media after the events of November 2015, and never to this layer of depth. Three stories, between 20-30 minutes each, aired on KBIA in February 2016.

The interactive layout for Mizzou at a Crossroads went live online a few days after the stories aired. In March, KBIA also distributed the three parts as serialized podcasts through the iTunes store. KBIA also released a version of the project as an hour-long documentary.

My Life, My Town

This year, KBIA and the Columbia Missourian released the latest installments of this short documentary project – My Life, My Town – adding a new wrinkle: producers followed up with past subjects to see how their lives had changed. Here are two examples:

Access Missouri

KBIA news director Ryan Famuliner is the founder of Access Missouri. 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. This project opens up that information, creating a whole new level of transparency to the public.

Here are examples of some of the features that highlight important information in the data:

Developers have shared information with reporters interested in launching similar projects in other states. The project also received funding from the Reynolds Journalism Institute and Knight Foundation Prototype Fund in 2016.

Here Say

Drawing inspiration from projects like Humans of New York, Localore and Storycorps,
Here Say is a community storytelling project. Here Say is comprised of three main parts: a weekly radio show, a podcast available through the iTunes store, and an interactive web application:

4 Things You Might Have Wrong About the Mizzou Story

KBIA sought to clean up some erroneous or incomplete national reporting of incidents on the University of Missouri campus with this web-only story. The post had more than 100,000 page views in 3 days.

Election Charts

KBIA was the only outlet in our market that provided live election data in charts and graphs on our homepage for both major election nights so far in 2016, the presidential primaries and our local civic elections. Our digital content director created interactive charts using D3.js, Chart.js and the Python library BeautifulSoup.

KBIA Special Projects Sites

When creating online experiences for our special projects, KBIA’s Digital Content Director Nathan Lawrence was struck by the lack of flexibility available in tools like Atavist, Divi and Layers. As a result, he created our unique Jekyll-based special projects workflow, which creates experiences that let a piece’s writers focus on its content while also providing maximum flexibility. In addition to Mizzou at a Crossroads and My Life, My Town; here are two other examples of this tool in action at KBIA:

Twitter Audiogram

KBIA’s Nathan Lawrence created what others are now calling “audiograms,” animated waveforms that accompany short audio files so they can be shared on Twitter and Facebook. The solution to creating these that we pioneered uses After Effects expressions and scripts, and has been adopted by a few other stations and national radio programs, including PRI’s The World and The Takeaway. The first time it was deployed was for our reporting collaboration Side Effects.

News Quizzes

To create KBIA’s weekly Morning Edition and All Things Considered news quizzes, our digital content director adapted Vox Media’s open source quiz generator.

Other Interesting Facts

  • The Access Missouri “skill” for Amazon Echo was one of the first 1,000 available in its store.
  • KBIA has doubled down on podcasting this year, creating a “superfeed” for radio features, as well as individual feeds for its multi-episode special projects.
  • KBIA was the first small-market public radio station to have an app for the Universal Windows Platform.
  • During unrest at the University of Missouri, KBIA used Python and Twitter’s streaming API to track potentially developing stories and the shifting tone in comments about protests.