Offseason wrap up

At the beginning of the fall semester I wrote a short piece about what it meant to finally have my shot at the Missourian, and I wanted to make it count. And hell, after more than 40 bylines, a theatre agreement, performance funding and a new UM System president, I think I’ve made the first impression I laid out in that original post.

But a new year brings a new semester and a new set of challenges, and it’s time to get right back at it.

All of the lessons I learned over my first semester at the Missourian were really just the foundation and basic structure of what I’d like to do as a professional journalist and writer — like a Phase 1 of the “Missouri Method” we were promised as freshmen.

But after the first reporting class for the Missourian, the method isn’t based so much structure as it is opportunity.

I’m taking Advanced Reporting this semester (and have the distinct privilege of staying on the higher education beat, which means I get to keep all those sources I’ve come to know so well) which is essentially enterprise reporting 101. It’s all the same newsroom resources without all the general assignment strings attached and that freedom will give me the chance to take on longer, more challenging pieces within the higher ed beat.

There’ll be more investigation, more analysis, bigger issues and harder hitting reporting. I’ll have more time to settle in to a big work and make it a reporting masterpiece.

So after a semi-hiatus from (almost) all things work this winter break, I’ll be back in Columbia Saturday to get to work on “what’s next.”

On the slate now are a few things I can talk about, and a couple of things I want to keep secret (for now).

Obviously UM System tuition increases will dominate the coming weeks, but I want to get a good jump on one of my secret ideas and hopefully have something really substantial out in the next four or five weeks.

Issues like e-Learning, the system retirement plan and even (dare I say) an MU diversity course requirement could be major players in 2012.

But not to get ahead of myself, what’s most important is to plug back in to the Columbia community and settle down for what should be the most challenging — and hopefully satisfying — semester I’ve had yet.

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