Columbia’s first look at the 2015 Ford Mustang

Yes, it was approaching midnight and the temperatures were dropping fast, but that didn’t stop me from driving to Joe Machens Ford when I heard the news that the 2015 Mustang had been rolled off the delivery truck earlier in the evening. At last, my eyes could finally take in the sixth generation Mustang styling in person. And boy was it worth the wait! While various magazine photos from different automotive publications showcase the aggressive front and rear fascias, the styling must be seen in person to truly appreciate the Mustang’s menacing body lines and elongated, fastback roof. For a car that starts at $23,600, the new Mustang could easily be confused with a car that’s more than three times as expensive, which is a huge step in the right direction by Ford. It’s similar to the leap they made with the second generation 2013 Ford Fusion, which shared many of the same styling cues as an Aston Martin in a car with a base price of $21,970.

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The styling isn’t the only thing new for the 2015 Mustang. Although the car in the photograph features the all-to-familiar 5.0L V8 engine that now packs 435 ponies, Ford’s renowned EcoBoost engine is now offered as a premium option for Mustang owners who want a more-than-capable performance platform without sacrificing fuel mileage. With a best-in-class 32 mpg highway, the EcoBoost Mustang gets an estimated 7 mpg better than the GT and 4 mpg better than the V6 on highway trips. With 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque, it’s already makes more power than the V6 despite the displacement disadvantage. It’s the first turbocharged factory Mustang since 1986, and the aftermarket scene is already salivating at opportunity to unlock the tremendous power potential of the 2.3L engine.

With the average forced induction setup for the V6 or GT ranging anywhere from $5000-$8000, the EcoBoost with a starting price of $25,170 seems to be a tremendous bang-for-your-buck value. With a Ford Racing PCM tune, off-road exhaust, minor suspension modifications and drag slicks, this EcoBoost Mustang ran a 12.56 quarter mile, which is more than 0.3 tenths/second faster than Motor Trend’s first test of the V8-equipped GT. While GT owners may make fun of you for the EcoBoost’s artificial exhaust note, with just a few modifications, you’re sure to get the last laugh at the track with a fatter wallet to boot.


From whitewall tires to manual transmissions: Buick’s new marketing strategy

You’re cruising downtown Columbia in your 2004 Mustang GT with the windows down and the sunroof open. You’ve got black racing stripes from bumper to bumper, and you’re trying to make sure that everyone within three blocks is able hear your 12” Sony Xplods thumping to Drake’s latest album. Let’s face it; you think you’re the hottest thing on the street. As you approach the nearest stoplight, an aggressive looking sports sedan pulls alongside you. You didn’t recognize the car at first, but after further inspection you noticed the familiar Buick tri-shield on the car’s steering wheel. “Whew! For a second there it looked like an Audi or BMW,” you thought. “Good thing it’s just a Buick.” In an attempt to win a few points with your new girlfriend in the passenger’s seat, you give the Mustang a few revs to show the Buick in the next lane that you mean business. As the light turns green, you drop the clutch and mash your foot to the floor. The Stang’s 4.6L V8 roars to life and makes its presence well known thanks to your custom Flowmaster exhaust. You look in the rearview mirror expecting to find your fallen opponent wallowing in your smoke, but find yourself in total dismay as the Buick is right beside you and starting to pull away. You’ve got your foot pressing so hard on the pedal that it feels like it’s about to go through the floor, and all 260 horses are being pushed to their very limit. Sadly, it’s no use, and you keep falling farther and farther behind until the only thing you can see is the sleek rear spoiler and dual exhaust outlets of the sharply-designed Buick. As you pull up to the next light in complete embarrassment, your girl gets out of the car and leaves without speaking a word. Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, she marches directly over to the pearlescent white sport sedan and hops into the passenger seat. As you struggle to make reality of the humiliating situation that just occurred, you can’t help but wonder what kind of demon was sleeping under the hood of the car. One thing is for sure, it isn’t your Grandma’s Buick. It’s the 6-speed, turbocharged Buick Regal GS.

Now in its third year, the sporty Regal GS is such a bold statement by Buick that I often wonder if it was the right move for a company struggling to find its identity. Throughout history, Buick has always been famous for luxury and comfort, not turbocharged engines and manual transmissions. It’s no secret that Buick is one of the best selling cars among the elderly, with the average age of the Buick buyer well over sixty years old. The new Regal is an obvious attempt by Buick to reach out to the younger crowd and to show the world that they’re much more than an old ladies car. However, I can’t help but ask if the Regal GS will be enough to change Buick’s long-standing image.


After examining a few advertisements from the past twenty-one years, it’s very clear that Buick has completely changed not only their cars, but also their marketing strategy. Buick is pushing the Regal GS with advertisements that highlight speed, performance and precise handling instead of the usual excellent fuel economy and plush, luxurious comfort. The new ads are obviously more geared toward the younger generation, but I found it interesting that even the photographs were as well. In this particular ad, the driver of the car appears to be a man between the ages of 25-35. He is parked comfortably beside the ocean, and his apparent spouse — who appears to be of similar age — is leaving the Regal to take a stroll along the shore. This photograph really caught my attention because it’s very unlike Buick to market its cars this way. Deliberately including younger couples in their ads is definitely a good marketing strategy if they are serious about reaching out to the younger crowd, which seems all but apparent with the sporty Regal GS.


For comparison standards, I decided to examine older Buick advertisements and see how they were being presented. It didn’t take long to find the all-too-familiar “Grandma Special.” With whitewall tires, tacky chrome strips, and plush, pillowed-seats, what more could Grandma and Grandpa need for their daily visit to the retirement center? If the pictures weren’t already enough to turn you off, then the obnoxious title, “Great American Beauty” was sure to bring a laugh. The only thing “great” about this car was its obnoxious length and size. No one in their right mind under the age of 60 would give this car a second look. It’s also interesting to note the features of this Park Avenue Buick chose to describe in the ad. To quote Motor Trend: “Buick engineers have come up with one of the quietest, tightest, and smoothest operating luxury sedans we’ve ever driven.” They chose to market the Park Avenue’s smooth handling and comfortable, quiet interior — features that are more geared toward the older generations.

This Park Avenue ad clearly shows how Buick’s target audience has completely changed with the 2014 Regal GS. Whitewalls and plush bench seats no longer grace the cover of company brochures and advertisements. They have been replaced with low-profile 20” summer-performance tires mounted on polished-aluminum wheels and firm, supportive bucket seats designed to hug drivers while cornering on twisty roads.

Only time will tell if the Regal GS was a step in the right direction for the future of Buick. With an increasingly crowded sport sedan class that includes Lexus, Infiniti, BMW and Audi, will the turbocharged Regal be enough to pose a serious threat to the competition? Or will Buick struggle to overcome its “grandma” image and be forced to change their current marketing strategy of sport and performance back to comfort and luxury. One thing is for sure: It’s a big risk by Buick executives to go out of their comfort zone and make this bold of a statement. I’m sure I speak for other enthusiasts who yearn for another 1970 Buick GSX or 1987 Buick GNX — let’s hope the Regal GS is just an appetizer for what’s to come for the brand going forward.

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.

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.

Missouri Orthopaedic Institute to host seminar for runners

As a lifelong runner, I was really excited to cover this event at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. I ran cross country in high school for 3 years, and it was undoubtedly my favorite sport. I advanced to the state championships each year even without having an official coach to teach me proper training techniques. I think this is a great opportunity for competitive runners to learn the fundamentals, and I wish this opportunity existed when I was still in high school. 


COLUMBIA — Missouri Orthopaedic Institute will host a free seminar for runners Thursday to counsel them on healthy training techniques.

The seminar, titled “The Lifelong Runner — Protecting Your Body Mile After Mile,” will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the institute’s fourth floor conference room at 1100 Virginia Ave., according to a news release from MU Health Care. 

“Running is a really popular activity,” said Colin Planalp, the media coordinator for the event. “This is good opportunity to reach out to the community and provide information that’s important to them.”

The seminar is a part of the institute’s “Knowledge Now” seminar series, designed to educate Columbia citizens about health issues.  

It will feature a panel of six of the institute’s health professionals who specialize in sports medicine, Planalp said, including orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians and a physical therapist. They will share training techniques for better safety and performance.

They will also discuss methods to prevent injuries and the latest treatments for common running injuries. 

Space at the seminar is limited, according to the news release.


Speakers to discuss renewable energy Wednesday at Middlebush Auditorium

This was a news brief assigned to me by John Schneller, the enterprise beat editor at the Missourian. I wasn’t very knowledgeable about sustainable energy beforehand, but I wanted to take on the story nonetheless. I was on a fairly tight deadline, so I quickly researched the subject so I would know what questions to ask the event’s media coordinator. The original article was actually quite a bit longer, but it was cut down substantially due to space constraints and the fact that it was supposed to be a news “brief,” not a full-length article. Nonetheless, I’m glad that I’m showing improvement on my ability to write on deadline. 

Speakers to discuss renewable energy Wednesday at Middlebush Auditorium

Monday, November 4, 2013 | 6:15 p.m. CST; updated 1:18 p.m. CST, Monday, November 18, 2013

COLUMBIA — Two speakers will discuss sustainable energy and the hazards of nuclear power at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Middlebush Auditorium on MU campus.

The event, which is open to the public, is titled “Poison-Free Power.” It will include speeches from S. David Freeman, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and John Rachow, chair of the Radiation and Health Committee at Physicians for Social Responsibility, according to a press release from the Osage Group, one of the event’s sponsors.

Rachow will speak about the danger of waste from nuclear reactors, including that of the Callaway Nuclear Plant near Fulton, according to the release. Freeman will discuss the need for the U.S. to increase its renewable energy sources.

The event is sponsored by several advocacy groups, including the Osage Group, Missourians for Safe Energy, the mid-Missouri Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Missouri Coalition for the Environment and MU Peace Studies.