Serving Community Information Needs, and Supporting Student Journalists in Missouri

Damon Kiesow
4 min readMay 13, 2020


With the generous support of the Walter B. Potter Fund for Innovation in Local Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism is launching a summer pop-up newsroom staffed by 10 current MU journalism students and recent graduates.

A formal unveiling will take place soon, but as the team are starting work on Monday, we wanted to share some of the details.

We are calling this effort the Missouri Community Information Corps. It is a way MU can help our state, by adding information resources at a time of great public need. And we also see it as a way to benefit our students: it provides them with jobs and a sense of purpose in a time when both might be scarce.

The team will work from May to August to cover the impact of COVID-19 across Missouri, with an emphasis on stories of statewide interest originating in smaller towns and counties that may be uniquely challenged by a lack of local media, local healthcare resources and broadband internet.

The stories, multimedia and data the team collects and produces will be made available for free to be used by any Missouri news outlet. This mirrors the approach taken by the school’s Statehouse Bureau in Jefferson City.

We are calling this new effort a pop-up newsroom (a term brought to us by RJI Fellow Fergus Bell last year) because it was created in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and is currently expected to operate for three months.

And it is collaborative because we will be working with partners both within the University of Missouri and around the state. This will include the Missouri School of Journalism’s community newsrooms, the Missouri Press Association, newspapers and broadcasters from Cape Girardeau to Maryville, and non-media partners such as the MU Extension service.

The team will be led by Madison Conte and Ty Stewart as Managing Editors and will be supported by MU faculty including Kathy Kiely and Damon Kiesow. Brief introductions to the team are below, in the alphabetical order of their photos above.

  • Claire Colby will earn her bachelor’s degree in investigative journalism and political science this week. She’s been an assistant city editor at the Missourian and a staff writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune, the Boonville Daily News and the Virginian Pilot. This fall, she’s enrolling in a program in law and public health.
  • Madison Conte expects to earn her master’s degree in December. She has been a supervising editor in the convergence newsroom and a podcast producer, reporter and anchor at KBIA.
  • Madison Czopek will earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science this week. She’s been a state government reporter , a Politifact reporter and an editor for Vox.
  • Peter Georgiev will complete his master’s degree in journalism this week. He has worked as a reporter and anchor for Bulgarian National television and just completed an internship as an investigative reporter for NBC. Georgiev also has worked for the Investigative Reporters and Editors, conducting data analysis and cleaning data for newsrooms across the country.
  • Taylor Guidry will earn her B.A. in strategic communication this week. She has worked on campaigns to boost the web presence and awareness of Shelter Insurance, the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting, Red Robin and Spotify. She spent last summer in Tokyo working for the McCann ad agency.
  • Regan Huston is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in convergence journalism and a minor in business. She has worked as a creative manager at Vice Media, as well as a producer and reporter at Radio Health Journal, KBIA and Vox Magazine.
  • Arin Jemerson earns her bachelor’s degree in investigative convergence journalism this week. She minored in Spanish and worked as an editor and producer in the convergence newsroom. As a Potter Digital Ambassador in January, she worked with a small Missouri newsroom to enhance its social media presence.
  • Madison McVan earns her bachelor’s in Journalism and Latin American studies this week. As a state government reporter for the Missourian, she broke a story about unsafe health conditions at the Smithfield meat packing plant in Milan, Missouri. She is proficient in Spanish.
  • Regan Mertz expects to earn her bachelor’s degree in investigative convergence journalism next year. At Mizzou, she has worked in print (Vox), audio (KBIA and Global Journalist) and video (KOMU). She recently won election to the board of Mizzou’s Science, Health and Environmental Journalism Club.
  • Ty Stewart got his master’s degree in Journalism summa cum laude in December. He was an assistant city editor at the Missourian and is completing an internship as a statehouse reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch
  • Colleen Wouters expects to earn her bachelor’s in science, health and environmental journalism next year. She has worked at the Missourian and Vox and recently completed a semester at the UniLaSalle Institute in Beauvais, France, where she studied water and environmental science management as part of her environmental science minor.



Damon Kiesow

Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Producing @mujschool. Formerly Director of Product @McClatchy Also: @BostonGlobe, @Poynter, @AOL, M.S. HFID @bentleyu