Missourian copy editing shift

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work a shift at the Missourian copy desk for my news editing class. Prior to the shift, I was a little nervous and didn’t know quite what to expect. After spending the semester learning the fundamentals of news editing and brushing up on AP style, I’m much more confident in my ability to edit a story. However, as I took my seat at the copy desk, I was surprisingly intimidated and feared that my skills were not up par. What if I missed a blatant AP style error? What if my editing deleted essential information or resulted in an accidental change of meaning? Is the reporter going to come after me with a pitchfork?

After I was handed my first story to edit, my anxiety finally began to subside, and I regained confidence in my abilities. It was essentially the same routine I had been practicing all semester­—only this time, it was real. As I began to carefully edit my first story, I was told to look for common AP style errors, clarify sentences and modify the headline for SEO if needed. Fortunately, I was very confortable with all of these tasks, and completed my first edit in a little less than 30 minutes. It took a lot longer than most, but I wanted to be sure that I didn’t miss anything before sending it to Rim Fast.

After completion, I reflected on what I feel is the most important lesson I’ve learned in this class. Editors are the unsung heroes of the newsroom; however, their work is absolutely essential to the profession. Although I have a lot of confidence in Missourian reporters and assistant copy editors, they can easily make mistakes, especially if the reporter is writing on deadline and the assistant copy editor is flooded with a multitude of stories to review.

As a copy editor, I’m essentially the last line of defense. As a result, I feel there is a huge weight on my shoulders to make sure the story is 100 percent accurate and error-free before it’s published. Even when the newsroom is fast paced, I believe copy editors should not get caught up in the frantic atmosphere because that is when the majority of mistakes will be made. Sure, I might catch the occasional missing comma or misplaced modifier during a quick skim, but it’s very unlikely that I will have time to restructure sentences and make an article easier to understand for readers. If I’m not going to take the time to read through a story, then I believe that I’m a disservice to not only my newspaper’s readers, but to my employer as well. As an editor, I have a responsibility to protect the integrity of my newspaper, and that can be easily damaged with frequent errors and misinformation.

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Driver pronounced dead after one-car accident

During my only weekend G.A. shift during the semester, I wasn’t expecting a lot of activity on a seemingly quiet Sunday afternoon. However, that belief quickly changed as news of a fiery car accident resonated from the police scanner.

The crash occurred at the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road, so I knew traffic congestion was going to be brutal. Luckily, I found a spot to park my car at The Grove, and I walked the remaining distance to the scene. Just as I was arriving, I spoke to a bystander who had witnessed the crash from opposite lane of traffic. Although the mangled Toyota Camry was hard to look at, I quickly learned that it could have been much worse. 

This was my first opportunity to report at the scene of an accident, and I enjoyed the thrill of the assignment. A media coordinator never arrived at the scene, so I did all of the reporting by talking to witnesses and public officials. It was definitely a valuable learning experience for me, and I’m now much more comfortable covering car accidents and asking the right questions . 

Driver pronounced dead after one-car accident

Sunday, November 17, 2013 | 4:44 p.m. CST; updated 12:49 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Patrol Officer Caleb Bowen directs traffic on the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road on Sunday after an accident occurred around 2 p.m. According to Sergeant John Dye, not pictured, a male motorist hit the median protecting the sidewalk on the eastbound side of Grindstone Parkway, causing the Toyota Camry to become airborne and hit the opposite corner’s light pole.   ¦  JOSHUA BOUCHER

COLUMBIA — A Columbia man died Sunday after his car went airborne and crashed into a traffic pole at the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road. 

Gabriel J. Watkins, 27, of Columbia was driving a blue Toyota Camry east on Grindstone Parkway shortly after 2 p.m. when he veered into the median that separates the intersection and the right-hand turning lane. This caused the car to go airborne and crash into a nearby traffic light post, said Columbia police Sgt. John Dye.

Kevin Boyer, a witness at the scene, said that Watkins appeared to be speeding through the intersection at the time of the accident. Boyer said it looked like the driver had lost control and he was afraid that the Camry would hit his car.

The force of the accident tore off the front of the car and crushed in the passenger side of the car.

Watkins had to be cut out of the car, and he was transported to University Hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief James Weaver.

Almost an hour after the crash, Watkins was pronounced dead, according to a Columbia Police Department news release. 

He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, and all of the car’s airbags deployed. No passengers or other vehicles were involved in the accident.

The accident caused the intersection to be closed. It was gradually reopened Sunday afternoon. 

Missouri Orthopaedic Institute highlights safe running practices

After writing a news brief to notify readers about the upcoming event, I was already beginning to think about the different approaches I could take to the story to make it appeal to readers. I already knew what was going to be covered at the event due to prior contact with media coordinator Colin Planalp. Since running is such a popular leisure and competitive activity in Columbia, I wanted to focus on proper training techniques and safe practices discussed at seminar that will be useful to runners.

After the event, I headed back to the newsroom and wrote the article on a tight deadline because the assistant city editor was tired and ready to go home. I finished the story in a little over an hour, and I’m very happy with the final result. I’m typically a slow writer, so I was surprised at my ability to perform under strict time constraints. I guess J2100 paid off after all! 

Missouri Orthopaedic Institute seminar highlights safe running practices

COLUMBIA — Running can be a great form of exercise, but it can be very harmful to the body without proper training. 

The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute held a seminar for runners Thursday evening to help educate them about safe and effective training techniques to improve performance and reduce common injuries.

The seminar, titled “The Lifelong Runner — Protecting Your Body Mile After Mile,” featured a panel of six of the institute’s health professionals who specialize in sports medicine.

David Echelmeyer, a physical therapist at the institute, addressed running injuries and the newest advances in treatment.

Due to ground reaction forces, 65 to 75 percent of runners are injured at some point in time, Echelmeyer said. Ground reaction forces are forces exerted by the ground against the feet, which are 2 to 3 times a person’s body weight while running, he said. The forces grow even stronger with improper training techniques.

To help reduce the chance of injuries, physical therapists look to reduce ground reaction forces, Echelmeyer said. For example, a shorter running stride is safer because long strides increase the ground reaction force, he said.

Physical therapists are starting to use new technologies to evaluate runners’ strides and look for abnormalities that could explain the cause of an injury.

Video gait analysi allows physical therapists to do just that by examining injured runners through slow-motion videos. The examination allows Echelmeyer to find deficiencies in runners’ strides and help correct running techniques.

“It gives you a self-evaluation tool,” Echelmeyer said. “Changing your form can make a great deal of difference.”

To help reduce ground reaction forces on the feet, runners should maintain a forward leaning posture and land softer on their feet, Echelmeyer said.

Aaron Gray, an MU Health Care sports medicine physician, addressed patellofemoral pain, the most common orthopedic pain experienced by runners. Often referred to as runners’ knee, it accounts for 16 to 25 percent of all runners’ injuries, Gray said.

Runners’ knee is a result of increased friction where the kneecap glides over the thigh bone, and results in pain behind the kneecap, he said.

To reduce the chances of developing runners’ knee, Gray made the suggestion to avoid training with full squats and lunges, strengthen the body’s core and reduce mileage if pain behind the kneecap develops.

“You never want to start running with pain,” Gray said. “If you’re having pain, your body is telling you that there is something wrong.”

Due to a high level of interest, the institute will host a second session of the runners’ seminar from  7 to 8:30 p.m on Dec. 12 in the institute’s fourth floor conference room at 1100 Virginia Ave., said Colin Planalp, media coordinator for the event. It will feature the same speakers and cover the same topics.