Survey reveals profile of iPad users

Thursday, December 9, 2010 | 5:58 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – News consumers continue to move toward digital platforms – this time, on the iPad.

Roger Fidler, a program director at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, said publishers can see that the iPad and similar devices will be “an important new medium for newspapers and magazines” with several advantages compared to the Web.

“It allows for more visually rich and media-rich editorial and advertising presentations, more like print than the Web,” Fidler said.

Fidler headed a research project conducted by RJI this fall about how iPad users consume news.

He said he was surprised to find that a high percentage of those surveyed indicated that they were very likely or somewhat likely to switch from print subscriptions to digital subscriptions on their iPad within six months.

The RJI survey listed six main findings:

  • iPad users are predominantly well-educated, affluent men between 35 and 64 who purchased the device within the first two months of its release.
  • The overall satisfaction and time spent with the iPad are very high.
  • Keeping up with news and current events is the most popular use.
  • iPad news consumers prefer newspaper applications to newspaper websites and are less likely to use print publications.
  • Positive iPad reading experience is influenced by age and traditional media habits.
  • Low prices and ease of use are key factors in users’ decisions to purchase newspaper subscriptions on the iPad.

The 20-question survey had 1,609 respondents and was conducted online between September and November. Responses represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as 49 other countries. About 92 percent were located in the United States.

The survey was conducted at the request of, as well as funded by, the RJI Digital Publishing Alliance members.

The full results of the 2010 National iPad News Survey will be presented at 2:15 p.m. Friday in Fred W. Smith Forum in the Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU as a part of the Tablet/E-Reader Symposium.

Colleen Newvine, market research director at the Associated Press, is scheduled to speak at the event about a similar survey conducted by the AP in July and August.

About 2,000 iPad users participated in the AP survey via links on AP, BBC and NPR iPad applications.

The AP survey found that iPad users predominantly consumed news at home, Newvine said. Participants also cited that they preferred reading long-form text stories on the iPad, she said.

“It’s not just something you’re using on the go,” she said.

The RJI survey found similar results. Almost half of the respondents rated their reading experience as much better on the iPad than on iPhones or other smart phones.

Fidler said the RJI survey results should help publishers in planning their “digital strategies for 2010 and beyond,” as well as influence decisions about iPad subscription prices and advertising rates.

“Publishers are hopeful that the iPad will make branded, curated packages of digital content popular enough with readers that they will be willing to pay for subscriptions,” Fidler said.

About 99 percent of those surveyed indicated they consumed news on their iPad for some period of time during a typical day, according to the RJI survey results.

RJI plans to conduct a follow-up panel survey in March, June and September.

“The panel surveys in 2011 will give us more insights in to how iPad users are consuming news and how their usage of news apps changes over time, especially after newspapers begin charging for iPad subscriptions,” Fidler said.

Newvine said a question still remains about whether the iPad and similar devices are being used to supplement or replace a news consumption experience.

RJI researchers plan to study how users’ satisfaction and usage changes over time. They plan on conducting another cross-sectional iPad news survey next September that will be compared to the 2010 survey results.


This appeared on on Dec. 9. Here’s a link to the story.

I wrote this story on my last general assignment shift at the Columbia Missourian. Today was Reading Day, so I didn’t have to leave the newsroom for class or work. It was nice to be able to get my work done without any interruptions.

MU, Sierra Club at odds on plans to burn wood instead of coal

Thursday, November 18, 2010 | 7:20 p.m. CST; updated 9:43 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 18, 2010
BY Trupti Rami 

COLUMBIA – Is brown the new green?

The Osage Group of the Sierra Club says no.

The environmental group called Wednesday for a general moratorium on burning woody biomass and raised questions about MU’s plans to replace coal with wood in a $62 million boiler at the campus power plant that’s expected to be operational next fall.

The MU Power Plant currently has four boilers that burn coal, tire-derived fuel and biomass and one boiler that burns natural gas, said Karlan Seville, communications manager for campus facilities.

Hank Stelzer, associate professor of forestry at MU, said the new boiler will use a combination of biomass; 80 percent will come from woody biomass and 20 percent will come from other plant material, such as switchgrass and corn cobs.

“We don’t want to have a system that’s not sustainable,” he said.

While the Osage Group supports MU’s move away from burning coal, it does not believe that wood is the best transitional fuel.

Ken Midkiff, conservation chair for the Osage Group, prefers natural gas because it’s clear that gas emits less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than coal, while it is not yet clear how biomass emissions compare. He raised three concerns:

  • The potential release of more carbon dioxide from the burning of woody biomass than is expended from coal burning.
  • The availability of woody biomass.
  • The sustainability of wood harvest.

Midkiff said the key question is whether forests can recover fast enough to make wood burning carbon-neutral.

Stelzer said the entire life of a forest must be considered in this discussion. “The trees will take up as much, if not more carbon over the life of a forest,” said Stelzer, who is collaborating with the power plant.

“We love that they’re replacing a coal boiler,” said Paul Rolfe, president of Coal Free Mizzou. “We want to see more changes like that in the future.”

Rolfe said he’d rather have the issues that come with biomass burning than the issues that come with burning coal.

“Coal is so destructive in its process, from mining to burning to waste,” he said.

About 15 students gathered Thursday afternoon at Carnahan Quadrangle as part of Coal Free Mizzou’s call for MU to move beyond coal and toward clean energy. The event featured speeches from two MU sociology professors: Larry Brown and Rebecca Scott.

“There’s no get out of jail free card when it comes to energy,” said Scott, who has published a book about mountaintop coal removal.

Brown said now is the time to increase the pace of this movement.

“We are beyond coal,” he said at the event.

The power plant’s change to biomass is intended to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, Seville said. She said the MU boiler will be more efficient because of the plant’s use of waste heat in the form of steam for heating and cooling.

The change will reduce the amount of coal that’s being consumed by the power plant, Stelzer said. The $5 million savings can then be applied to buying local biomass.

The power plant purchases its coal from Illinois and other states. Seville outlined two main benefits of the new biomass burning boiler:

  • The biomass boiler will save on fuel costs, as well as lower the plant’s truck emissions, because the biomass would be collected from within a 70- to 75-mile radius of Columbia, as opposed to traveling outside the state for coal.
  • Acquiring the biomass within mid-Missouri would help simulate the local economy.

The new boiler will use 100,000 tons of wood per year, Seville said. The woody biomass will consist of sawmill residue, urban wood waste and harvest residue from commercial timber harvests.

The wood for the biomass will come from forests that are being professionally managed and not clear-cutting operations, Stelzer said.

Stelzer said he hopes in the next five to 10 years for MU to produce some of its own wood for fuel with fast-growing hardwoods such as cottonwoods that are harvested every two to three years in short rotation.

“We need to be a leader that this can be done in a sustainable fashion,” said Stelzer, who said he believes doing so will be easier at the MU plant compared to other wood-burning power plants that are typically three times larger.


This appeared on on Nov. 18. Here’s a link to the story.

Hallsville facing sewage violations

Thursday, November 4, 2010 | 5:34 p.m. CDT

HALLSVILLE — The city of Hallsville has been cited by the state for “continuous” sewage-related violations under the state Clean Water Law.

The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday announced it was referring the violations of Hallville’s “no-discharge land application system and its collection system” to the Missouri attorney general.

Department inspectors observed unauthorized discharges of waste water from an emergency outfall into Kelley Branch, according to the release. The lagoon is used to store sewage until it can be applied to land for absorption.

For 17 months since February 2009, Hallsville reported discharges to the Kelley Branch in amounts that ranged from a monthly average of 257,800 to 407,547 gallons per day, said Renee Bungart of the Department of Natural Resources.

The land application system is located near Route U and Highway 124.

Other violations included failure to “submit complete and timely annual operations reports, discharge monitoring reports and inflow and infiltration reports,” according to the release.

These monthly reports have not been filed since 2009, Bungart said.

Hallsville’s waste-water facility also exceeded permitted limits for ammonia on “several occasions” since May 2009, according to the release.

Hallsville reported eight months since February 2009 where ammonia levels exceeded its permit limits.

Bungart said the department gives violators time to come into compliance with state standards. “If we’re not seeing compliance, then we send the case to the attorney general,” she said.

“No environmental damage is being claimed,” Hallsville Mayor Ben Austene said on Thursday.

“There was no fish kill, so the Department of Conservation was not contacted,” Bungart said.

Austene declined to comment further until the city discussed the alleged violations at a City Council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.


This appeared on on Nov. 4. Here’s a link to the story.

I wrote this story during my general assignment shift. Initially, I had difficulty getting a hold of the stakeholders for the story. No one seemed to have any information for me. This was the first time I experienced a source declining further comment.

I was going through the story with my editor when one of my sources called me with great information: specific numbers about the violations. My editor was ready to go with what we had, but I’m glad we didn’t.

Street art takes cozy turn with yarn bombing

Thursday, November 4, 2010 | 4:24 p.m. CDT; updated 6:56 p.m. CDT, Thursday, November 4, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia’s streets are a little warmer these days, thanks to yarn bombing.

Colorful, knitted fabric has appeared on three parking meters on Ninth Street and on the Thomas Jefferson statue on Francis Quadrangle in the past few weeks.

Yarn bombing, or knit graffiti, is an international trend that takes street art to a new level. In countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and many others, knitted and crocheted fabric has joined traditional spray painted murals and installations as street art, said Bex Oliger, co-owner of True Blue Fiber Friends, which has about 2,000 customers in mid-Missouri.

Social knitting groups have been talking about doing this in Columbia for years, Oliger said.

“Social groups have gone one step further here by actually covering things in yarn,” she said.

Last week was the first time Oliger has seen yarn bombing in Columbia. She suspects that younger knitters are responsible for the recent yarn bombing.

“There’s this stereotype that knitters are your grandmothers and aunts and not college students,” Oliger said.

Oliger said knitters “yarn bomb” for fun and to bring attention to the community and the art form.

“Somebody has too much yarn and too much time on their hands,” she jokingly said.

MU sophomore Becca Zurbrick passed the leg warmers on Thomas Jefferson on Monday while giving a campus tour to prospective students and their parents.

“My tour thought they were awesome,” Zurbrick said. “Strangely enough, I think it reflected well on the university. They found the act very fun-loving and creative.”

Knitting vandals?

The yarn bombing undoubtedly adds color to an otherwise muted cityscape, but is it vandalism?

Public Information Officer Jill Wieneke said no.

The knits would not be considered vandalism because they do not damage property, she said.

“Someone putting a scarf on a meter is not really important to us,” Wieneke said. “Our job is to respond to complaints.”

The knits are still hugging the parking meters, but the leg warmers were removed from the Thomas Jefferson statue Monday night.

While MU Campus Facilities did not take off the leg warmers, the department did plan on removing them after Homecoming weekend.

“We would never leave something like that up,” MU spokesman Christian Basi said. “It wasn’t a part of the artist’s original work.”

Wieneke said police would respond if businesses or community members complained . At most, violators would be issued a littering ticket, she said.

“It’s not a high priority, but it is something we take care of,” said Jill Stedem, Department of Public Works spokeswoman.

Columbia does not have a vandalism ordinance but does have property damage and littering ordinances.

For both first-degree and second-degree property damage, “A person commits the crime of property damage if he knowingly damages property of another.”

The first part of the littering ordinance reads, “A person commits the crime of littering if he throws or places, or causes to be thrown or placed, any glass, glass bottles, wire, nails, tacks, hedge, cans, garbage, trash, refuse or rubbish of any kind, nature or description.”

According to these ordinances, yarn bombing would be littering. The yarn is “thrown” over an object and can be removed without damage to the property, Wieneke said.

Wieneke said the city would treat a toilet-papering incident in the same way.

Oliger is not sure where the knit graffiti will appear next. Knitting groups have discussed yarn bombing the MU columns and downtown light posts in the past, she said.

“I’ve heard rumors that the quadrangle trees look cold,” Oliger said.


This appeared on on Nov. 4. Here’s a link to the story.

I walk down Ninth Street almost everyday. I noticed a “knit cozy” on a parking meter a few weeks ago. A week or so later two others appeared. When knitted leg warmers appeared on the Thomas Jefferson statue on campus, I knew I had to find out the story behind it.

I heard a lot of chatter about those leg warmers from students. After doing some research, I learned about yarn bombing, an international trend where knitting and crocheting enthusiasts have added their spin on street art and urban graffiti.

When I started this story, I ran into a lot of dead ends. The surrounding businesses and active community members did not know what was going on. I was lucky to be able to talk with Bex Oliger about the subject. The story was fun to write, though. I’ve never had to explain what yarn bombing is to so many people, including three city officials.

Sixth suspect arrested in Hobson homicide

Saturday, October 30, 2010 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 3:27 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — A sixth suspect was brought into custody Saturday morning in connection with the fatal shooting of a Kansas man Oct. 23.

Anthony J. Carr, 24, turned himself in to police in St. Charles on Friday, according to a news release from the Columbia Police Department. Police said Carr was being held at Boone County Jail as of 7 a.m. Saturday. Carr declined to make a statement regarding the incident, according to the release.

Police issued a warrant for Carr’s arrest Tuesday after identifying him as the sixth suspect in the homicide of 22-year-old Aaron Hobson. According to the release, Carr was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder and second-degree robbery. Police said Carr’s bond was set at $1 million.

Hobson was shot and killed at the Break Time convenience store at 110 E. Nifong Blvd. on Oct. 23. He was in Columbia to watch his cousin, MU cornerback Trey Hobson, play in MU’s Homecoming game.

Police arrested Tony L. Lewis, 27, and Leo D. Roland, 19, on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery on Oct. 23 in connection with the same case. Bonds were set at $1 million for each.

Deshon Joseph Alexa Houston, 20, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of second-degree murder and second-degree robbery. His bond was set at $1 million.

Brothers Daron Peal, 23, and Darris Peal, 21, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder and second-degree robbery, each with a $1 million bond.


This appeared on on Oct. 30. Here’s a link to the story.

I wrote this story during my weekend general assignment shift.

Rain likely for Homecoming weekend

Thursday, October 21, 2010 | 2:15 p.m. CDT; updated 8:47 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 21, 2010

COLUMBIA — Black, gold and damp.

That’s the forecast for Homecoming weekend at MU.

“Wet weather will prevail on Saturday, but we’re not sure how,”  National Weather Service forecaster Benjamin Sipprell said early Thursday afternoon.

Storms could be scattered or isolated during the football game, Sipprell said.

The best chance of rain will be late Friday night and early Saturday morning, National Weather Service forecaster Jim Kramper said. He doesn’t expect more than a half-inch of rain in the Columbia area.

There could be a break in the rain on Saturday, Kramper said.

“Friday night is a little more certain,” he said.

The storm system moving from the southwest to the northeast is expected to bring a “mixed bag,” Kramper said, with periods of showers off and on.

Sipprell doesn’t expect significant changes in the forecast before Saturday.

Here’s the latest thinking on the rain chances:


  • 1 to 7 a.m. — 70 percent chance of rain and temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees. Rainfall estimates: about 0.25 to 0.3 inches. Francis Quadrangle opens   at 3:30 a.m. for fans attending ESPN “College GameDay.”
  • 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.— 60 percent chance of rain,  70 to 73 degrees with about 0.1 to 0.2 inches of rain. ESPN “College GameDay” broadcasts from 8 to 11 a.m. The MU Homecoming parade is scheduled to begin at noon.
  • After 4 p.m. — 50 percent chance of rain, between 65 and 70 degrees, with rainfall totals about 0.1 inch. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


This appeared on on Oct. 21. Here’s a link to the story.

My editor wanted a weather story. Weather is something the readers are really interested in knowing and talking about. For the story, I contacted forecasters at the National Weather Service. It’s a big weekend for MU. It’s Homecoming and ESPN College GameDay is here. Hopefully, the rain doesn’t dampen the mood.

Mustard Seed plans first fair trade fundraiser Friday

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 6:46 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Mustard Seed Fair Trade will usher in its third year by bringing Columbia a little closer to women in Guatemala, India and the Middle East.

The nonprofit organization is celebrating its two-year anniversary this month with a fundraiser Friday night that features fair trade and handmade goods. The fundraiser includes food, beverages, live music with guitarist Brady Didion, a raffle and a silent auction. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. in the catacombs beneath the Artlandish Gallery on Walnut Street.

“The space is really neat,” Mustard Seed Executive Director Jessica Canfield said. “We’re looking forward to living in it for the night and making it our own.”

A global connection

“The goal of this event is to raise funds to build a buying relationship with TRAMA Textiles and Better Way Imports,” Canfield said.

TRAMA is a weaving cooperative of 400 women in Guatemala. Better Way Imports is a fair trade wholesaler based in the U.S. It works with women in India and the Middle East, Canfield said.

“I think when you do a fundraiser like this the goal isn’t to just raise money,” she said. “It’s also to help the community understand more about fair trade.”

Mustard Seed’s mission is to provide sustainability for farmers and artisans around the world by marketing their goods. Canfield wants to connect Columbia with the global community through fair trade goods.

“We’re providing sustainability through enterprise,” Canfield said.

Canfield also wants the community to learn more about the people behind the vendors. Information about the two organizations will be provided at the event.

“Many (of these women) have been rescued from brothels or sex trading,” said Monica DeCrescenzo, event planning intern with Mustard Seed. “Some of these companies are teaching women the skills to be able to work.”

Fair trade fundraising

The store purchased most of the auction items, but the International Princess Project, an advocacy group for women in India, donated the “punjammies” for the fundraiser. “Punjammies” are pajamas that are handmade by formerly enslaved women, and all the proceeds go back to these women.

“It’s something we’ve never had in the store.” DeCrescenzo said. “We’re excited about it.”

All the net proceeds from ticket and auction sales will go toward buying products from TRAMA Textiles and Better Way Imports.

“It’s interesting to realize that there are little things we can do everyday to support someone far away,” DeCrescenzo said.

Michelle Chase, a volunteer, will be putting together an apartment in which everything from the lamps to the jewelry used to decorate the space will be for sale.

“People will be able to see how they can use the products in their home,” Chase said.

The fair trade products at Mustard Seed have an earthy, African-inspired design, Chase said, and the mock apartment will therefore have the same feel.

October is Fair Trade Month and Mustard Seed will be participating in the celebration through a number of community events, especially by encouraging “reverse trick-or-treating” with fair trade chocolate during Halloween.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available in the store and online.

Silent auction items

TRAMA Textiles

Set of four matching bags

  • Approximate retail value: $35
  • Starting bid: $17

2 Copa Cushion Covers from San Martin

  • Approximate retail value: $80
  • Starting bid: $40

Table Runner Culebrado

  • Approximate retail value: $40
  • Starting bid: $20

Notebook cover

  • Approximate retail value: $10
  • Starting bid: $5

Better Way Imports

Sari Bari Blanket

  • Approximate retail value: $80
  • Starting bid: $40

Night Light Pearl and Stone Necklace

  • Approximate retail value: $50
  • Starting bid: $25

Very Berry Bracelet

  • Approximate retail value: $22
  • Starting bid: $11

“Punjammies” and T-shirt:

  • Approximate retail value: $55
  • Starting bid: $20


This appeared on on Oct. 13. Here’s a link to the story.

Originally, this story was to appear solely on, but an assistant city manager told me to put it in django for I think this is a good story for online. I was able to get information for a sidebar about the auction items. I think that adds valuable information to the story. Also, I think I’m getting better at writing for online. I included a sidebar and subheads in this story.