Krista Gmelich
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Krista Gmelich

Krista Gmelich

Krista Gmelich grew up in St. Louis and is a graduate of Cor Jesu Academy.  She moved two hours west to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Krista is working toward dual degrees in business and economics journalism and accountancy.  She plans to graduate in May 2017.  This is Krista’s first semester reporting with Missouri Digital News.

Stories by Krista Gmelich in 2015 include:
Krista Gmelich's Tweets @MDNnews in 2015

  • 01/27/2015: Missouri House Children & Family Committee heard three new abortion bills.
  • 01/29/2015: Missouri senator calls on the Department of Revenue to streamline the process for obtaining business licenses
  • 01/29/2015: Missouri businesses are unable to operate for weeks while they wait for business licenses.
  • 02/03/2015: Missouri House speaker bans food in committee hearings
  • 02/03/2015: Missouri House speaker bans food in committee hearings
  • 02/10/2015: Senate Ethics Committee debates capping campaign contributions
  • 02/10/2015: Senate Ethics Committee reviews two bills limiting campaign contributions
  • 02/12/2015: Gov. Nixon discusses right to work and ethics reform.
  • 02/17/2015: One Missouri lawmaker is aiming to allow the placement of monitoring devices in nursing home rooms
  • 02/17/2015: One bill would allow families to place monitoring devices in nursing home rooms
  • 02/19/2015: State and local lawmakers are split over restrictions on ride sharing services like Uber
  • 02/19/2015: One Missouri lawmaker has sponsored a bill to create a statewide standard for companies like Uber.
  • 02/19/2015: One Missouri lawmaker sponsored a bill to create a statewide standard for companies like Uber
  • 02/26/2015: One senator says he wants to give uninsured Missourians a state tax break to compensate for a federal fine
  • 02/26/2015: Missouri lawmaker says he wants to give relief to uninsured Americans forced to pay a tax penalty
  • 03/12/2015: Medical malpractice bill passed by the Senate
  • 03/12/2015: Missouri lawmakers react to news that two police officers were shot in Ferguson
  • 03/12/2015: Lawmakers react to the shooting of two St. Louis police officers during a Ferguson protest. #MOLeg
  • 03/17/2015: House Elections Committee heard a bill that would regulate campaign publications
  • 03/17/2015: The Senate discussed the costs associated with the death penalty as a death row inmate seeks clemency
  • 03/17/2015: House Elections Committee discussed a bill attempting to end lying in political campaigns
  • 03/19/2015: Senate and House Republicans discussed the state's failing grade on the 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card
  • 03/19/2015: Missouri earned an 'F' on its welfare report card. #MOLeg
  • 03/31/2015: One Republican lawmaker says a newly perfected bill would expand Medicaid
  • 03/31/2015: Missouri's Senate votes to expand Medicaid, but slightly
  • 04/02/2015: The Senate passed the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act
  • 04/02/2015: The Senate passed a bill that would allow the government to monitor prescription drugs.
  • 04/02/2015: Missouri is one step closer to using a database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of narcotic-type drugs.
  • 04/14/2015: One House bill aims to make beer brewing easier
  • 04/14/2015: The House voted to expand the definition of a service dog
  • 04/22/2015: The senate debated a bill that would limit when police officers can use deadly force.
  • 04/23/2015: The Senate approved a $26 billion budget.
  • 04/28/2015: Senators filibuster in response to a bill that would cause St. Louis County to lose sales tax revenue
  • 04/30/2015: The Senate gave first round approval to increasing the fuel tax
  • 04/30/2015: Missouri's Senate approves a fuel tax increase without voter approval
  • 05/07/2015: The Senate delayed a vote on increasing the fuel tax
  • 05/07/2015: Senate GOP leaders made another attempt to increase the fuel tax for drivers.
  • 05/15/2015: Senators reflect after finishing the legislative session
  • 05/15/2015: The issue that sparked the Ferguson protests was not addressed by the Senate in the final week of the session
  • 05/15/2015: The Senate ended the legislative session three hours early. #MOLeg

Krista Gmelich's Blog in 2015
The Clock is Running

Posted 04/27/2015:  Last Tuesday, I sat through almost seven hours in the Senate.  It was a long day, and things didn’t really get interesting until the end.  I noted a few things that might be newsworthy, but then I saw that they were about to discuss a deadly force bill.  And that’s when I knew.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, something will jump out at you.  It’s so obviously newsworthy it’s like there’s flashing signs and fireworks.  This was definitely one of those times. 

Who would have thought the attention of the whole world would be on the state of Missouri?  Michael Brown lost his life, and ever since, all eyes have been on Ferguson.  I’ve been waiting cover Ferguson-related legislation since I began working at the Capitol this semester.  So when the Senate started discussing a deadly force bill, I knew what my story was going to be. 

The discussion went on for a few hours, and I did my best to pay close attention.  My strategy for tackling the Senate so far this semester has been to take good notes and decipher the debate later.  Well, my strategy failed.  As soon as the Senate adjourned for the night, I ran down to the newsroom and began to put the pieces of my story together.  But I realized that there was an exchange between two senators that I still didn’t understand…was it a filibuster? Were they in opposition of the bill?  I was confused so I went off to find the two senators.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  One senator was in a meeting and the other had left for the evening.

Luckily, I was able to use audio from several other senators who spoke about the bill.  But I might not always be so fortunate in the future.  We’re journalists, not historians…the clock is running.  Timing is everything.  So when in doubt, ask your questions now not later.

Posted 04/20/2015:  I was given some wise advice last week: “Krista, don’t forget to have fun.”  It was almost so simple, it was shocking.  As with many things in life, once something becomes routine, it becomes just another series of items to check off the list. 

Is the recorder on and ready to go?  Check!  Am I keeping good notes?  Check!  Did I save the right soundbites?  Check!  Did I write both radio and web stories?  Check!  Did I use proper grammar?  Check!  Did I get everything approved by an editor?  Check!  

Don’t get me wrong, I have very much enjoyed my time at the Capitol.  But it is so easy sometimes to get caught up in my “checklist.”  Last week, I worked on a story about beer and another about service animals.  While all issues are important, those were two of the most fun topics I’ve covered all semester.  Yet at first I was just so focused on getting the job done right that I forgot to take a step back and enjoy what I was writing about.  The reminder to have fun was greatly appreciated – not just for my journalism work, but for my life in general.

Numbers are Numbing
Posted 04/06/2015: 

I was introduced to a new quote last week: “Numbers are numbing.”  And after finishing up a financial accounting exam about an hour ago, I couldn’t agree more.  But in all seriousness, when I first heard that statement, I was a little disappointed.  I like numbers.  Actually I like them so much, I decided to study accounting in addition to journalism.

People are always surprised when I tell them I am a journalism and accounting dual major.  Many can’t see how the two fields would coincide or even compliment each other.  But while some see them as completely opposite, I have found them to be quite similar.  Both require accuracy and attention to detail.  Both are about the presentation of facts, whether that be in the form of a news story or a financial statement.  And both adhere to strict ethics guidelines. 

So yes, when I was reminded “numbers are numbing” in the newsroom last week, my immediate reaction was to disagree.  But there is a lot of truth in that statement.  In the world of journalism, numbers can be a powerful tool.  But if you overuse, they can confuse.  As journalists, often the best way to inform our audience is to convey the bigger picture.  Journalists can and should add numbers for clarification and support, but only as long as they don’t distract from the main idea. 

You Have the Right NOT to Remain Silent
Posted 03/23/2015:  I’ve been traveling since Friday so I apologize for the late blog post, but better late than never right?

We’ve all heard the Miranda rights read in a movie or television show.  Thanks to the Fifth Amendment, anyone questioned by police must be told they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.  But as Americans, we also have the right not to remain silent.  And that right can be traced back to the First Amendment. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I memorized the First Amendment in my very first journalism class freshman year.  And while it may be a Journalism 101 topic, it’s still a pretty powerful statement.  I was reminded of this at the Capitol on Thursday.  There was a fairly large group of protestors gathered calling for Medicaid expansion.  I’ve seen protests before – especially recently in St. Louis as the Ferguson situation has progressed over the past months.  But on Thursday, I happened to be walking with two people who weren’t from America and they seemed in awe of what was taking place. 

I think sometimes it is quite easy for Americans to take the First Amendment for granted.  But after covering Missouri politics this semester, I’m beginning to appreciate it more and more.  While the First Amendment might protect hateful speech by some, I truly believe it ultimately brings about good.  As a journalist, I don't think there is any greater right than the First Amendment.

Follow the Lede(r)
Posted 03/14/2015: 

It's been a while since my last blog.  Last week I was in Atlanta for a trip through Mizzou's business school.  We visited many great companies, but my biggest journalism "take-away" came from our tour of the CNN headquarters.  No matter how big or small the newsroom, news is news and the show must go on!  And although the trip was great, I must say I am so glad to be back at the Capitol.

In this post, I would like to talk about know those introductory sentences that seem to make or break a news story.  They have to be factual while at the same fun.  Ledes are supposed tease the audience, daring them to continue listening, watching or reading. When ledes are good, the audience follows the lede and continues to listen, watch or read the rest of the news story. 

 Lately, I’ve been struggling to come up with good ledes, or anchor intros in radio speak.  It’s a bit of a challenge sometimes to convey the news in a standout way.  So far I have covered hearings on a lot of bills.  And if I’ve learned anything…bills are not news.  What’s in bills and what people have to say about bills – that’s where the news is. Making a bill or another part of the political process not only relevant, but also interesting to an audience in one sentence is no simple feat!  It’s much easier said than done.  But it's something I'm going to continue to work on.

People are People
Posted 02/28/2015:  Thursday was one of the most surreal days I have experienced as a reporter.  The day started like most of my days at the Capitol have started: I researched a bill, talked to a few senators and sat down to write my stories.  But later that morning, there were reports that Missouri’s state auditor, Tom Schweich, was at the hospital because of what his office called “a medical situation.” 

To be honest, I didn’t think that much of it at first; I was focused on finishing up my stories.  But then reports started rolling in that it was serious.  And it wasn’t long before my newsroom learned Schweich had passed away.  I don’t think any class can fully prepare you for what its like to cover a person’s death.  How can you report the details of someone’s final moments factually and at the same time with a sense of sensitivity?  How do you ask other people their feelings on someone’s death without coming off as disrespectful?  Thursday, I found myself questioning almost everything.

I think the events on Thursday reminded all of us that the people we report on are people.  It sounds obvious, but it is so easy to get caught up the drama of politics.  So and so wrote such and such bill…So and so said this about so and so…So and so is running for this or that position…  The people we report on, they have hobbies.  They have favorite television shows and favorite books.  They have memories, and they have families and friends.

I would like to close this post by saying that my thoughts are on all of those who knew, worked and were friends with Tom Schweich.  And I would especially like to extend my condolences to Schweich’s family.

Location, Location, and Location
Posted 02/21/2015:  This was my fourth week at the Capitol, and I can’t believe it’s already been one month.  Time flies when you’re having fun, right? 

Anyway, I have some exciting news to share: the news story I wrote on Thursday ended up on the front page of the Columbia Daily Tribune!  It’s the first time I’ve seen my name in a print byline.  Of course, I picked up a copy (okay maybe more like two or three) to remember the occasion by.  But I gained more than just a stack of newspapers this week; I learned a very valuable lesson too.

The story that ended up in the Tribune was about a bill that would essentially ban local governments from placing their own restrictions on Uber and other similar companies.  And coincidentally, the Columbia City Council just voted to pass a set of regulations on Uber this week.  I wrote what I thought were two solid radio stories and one short online story for MDN’s website.  After showing my news director, he introduced me to a reporter at the Tribune and it was decided I would write an article for the next day’s paper. 

Most people have heard of the three rules of real estate: location, location, and location.  Well this week I learned that rule can be applied to the profession of journalism as well.  My news director told me to take out some of the Columbia specific information in my radio stories – after all, those stories potentially reach audiences in St. Louis and Springfield as well as other parts of Missouri.  However, when writing my article for the Tribune it was important to write specifically about Columbia since the paper is based in Columbia.  I referred to the city council’s recent actions, but the Tribune reporter even added more specific background information about the Columbia City Council.

It seems obvious, but it is important to keep the following three rules in mind when working on any kind of news story: location, location, and location.  It’s all about location.
Being in the Know
Posted 02/13/2015:  It’s been another great week at the Capitol.  I’ve learned a ton not only about journalism, but also about our government.  So far, my favorite part about working at the Capitol is getting to be “in the know.”  I am witnessing firsthand how our government works, am learning about various political issues, and am becoming a better informed citizen.

After this week, I am definitely more “in the know” about a number of issues.  Tuesday I sat in on a Senate hearing about imposing limitations on campaign contributions.  On Thursday, I listened to several speakers as part of the Missouri Press Association day at the Capitol.  I listened to two candidates for governor talk about issues such as education and the economy.  I also heard a panel on Ferguson and sat in on Gov. Jay Nixon’s press conference. 

It’s not that I wasn’t aware of these issues before I set foot in the Capitol.  It's just, there is something about sitting in on a hearing (or meeting, session, etc.), gathering additional interviews (if needed), and then writing the story.  I was already familiar with several of the issues I covered this week, but reporting on these issues has pushed me to a new level of understanding. 

A couple of weeks ago, I said I decided to study journalism because it sounded exhilarating and exciting.  But this week, I’ve come to another important realization: I want to stay a journalist (or at least keep studying it!) so that I can continue to learn – to really learn – about the world we live in. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the FAIREST of them all?
Posted 02/06/2015:  It’s the end of week two, and I’m still adjusting to my role as a reporter.  Thankfully, I didn’t have any equipment malfunctions this week, but there is still a lot to learn.  My biggest take away thus far has to do with the word “fairness.”  That word has been drilled into the minds of journalism students for decades.  The concept seems pretty simple: don’t be biased.    But there’s a catch.  As with most principles in journalism, learning the concept is the easy part.  It’s putting the concept into actual practice that is more difficult. 

So what makes fairness difficult?  It’s not always that journalists are biased toward a certain political party, viewpoint or cause.  Fairness and bias don’t always happen intentionally.  Sometimes a lack of fairness results because there is a lack of information available.  I want to illustrate this point with an example.

This week I was working on a story about a couple of bills that hadn’t been discussed much.  I spoke with the sponsors of the bills and they gave me plenty of information.  Next, I reached out to a politician of the opposite party.  He hadn’t reviewed the bills and wasn’t as familiar with the issue, but he still commented.

I went back to the newsroom to write my radio and online stories.  But when I finished, there seemed to be more questions than when I began.  I simply didn’t have enough information from the third politician.  In order to be fair, I needed to talk to the third politician again.  Or I needed to find someone else with a different perspective.  Unfortunately by the time I realized this, it was too late.  It was a Thursday afternoon and nearly everyone had gone home.  After talking it over with my news director, it was decided I would follow-up with the third politician next week and finish up my stories then. 

In a world that consumes media 24/7, it isn’t always possible to put off a story until it is perfect.  But as journalists, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to report fairly.  If we don't have enough information, we have to go out and find more.

 “I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.” – Walter Williams’ Journalist’s Creed

There's a First Time for Everything
Posted 02/04/2015:  I distinctly remember the first time I wanted to be a journalist.  Unlike many of my peers, my high school experience didn’t include writing for the newspaper or piecing together the yearbook.  Despite my lack of journalistic experience, when I visited Mizzou for the first time the Journalism School stood out to me.  A career in journalism sounded exhilarating and exciting.

Exhilarating and exciting – that is exactly how I would describe my first week reporting at the Capitol.  With the exception of assignments for introductory journalism courses, I had never reported on anything.  I must admit I was intimidated walking into my first House committee hearing with a recorder and microphone in hand.  I couldn’t help but worry I would make a mistake.

And I did make a mistake.  The first time I set up the recorder by myself I failed to notice the sound wasn’t clear.  I lost some really great audio.  I immediately panicked although eventually everything worked out.  After re-interviewing a senator, I had solid sound bite and was able to complete my story.

Mistakes happen.  At the Missouri School of Journalism, we learn by something called the Missouri Method.  We learn via real world experience, and part of that real world experience is making mistakes.  There’s a first time for everything, and my first time reporting wasn’t perfect.  But I did learn some very valuable lessons.  I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to continue learning as part of the Missouri Digital News team this semester.

And one last thing: I think it is now safe to say I will triple check the recorders before I use them.