Lessons Learned in Reporting

If anyone has ever read my bio here at the the Watchword, they will see that one of the reasons I enjoy journalism is because I am able to learn about new things every day, and then write about them. There is something exciting about becoming an “expert” on a topic in a short period of time. And, as nerdy as it may sound, I like learning.

Unfortunately, sometimes things I learn about aren’t things I find very interesting–for me, there is a big difference between finding something important and finding something interesting, after all. Do I understand why staying current on city, county, state, and federal government matters is important? Absolutely. Do I always find it interesting? Of course not.

But last week, I got a really cool opportunity to learn about one of the more interesting aspects of Columbia life. When my editor originally posed the story idea to me, there was a bit of a misunderstanding.

You see, the Blind Boone Home is in the process of receiving a good deal of funding from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau ($225,000 to be exact) and I was to write a story about this. When Scott asked me if I knew who Blind Boone was, I literally thought he was joking about it being a person. I figured it was some trick to see how gullible I was–my first reaction was that the Blind Boone Home was a home for the blind in Boone County.

(To read more about the renovations of the Blind Boone Home, you can read my article in the Missourian.)

But then, after being assured that it was indeed a person, I began to do more research and found out a lot about a figure who was very influential in so many areas that I was shocked I had never heard of him before.

I suppose I could ask the question “why?” Why isn’t more emphasis given to important figures like Blind Boone? As a student, I guess it’s very easy to me to fall into the “Mizzou Bubble” that makes me unaware of the larger community around me. But honestly, I don’t think that’s why.

As cool as historical figures are, it doesn’t seem like they ever get much publicity in communities. Being from the Chicago area, I live fairly close to President Ulysses S. Grant’s home in Galena. But I can honestly say that I never hear anything about that–the only reason I know is because I’ve visited.

Blind Boone was instrumental in creating a new genre of music: ragtime. He was a prominent figure in a community despite also living in a culture where African-Americans were discriminated against. He was a philanthropist. And he did everything he did without sight.

Everyone loves a good story where people overcome the odds against them and succeed. And with Blind Boone being such a good example of that, why don’t we hear more about him?

What do you think? Do historical figures get enough recognition in Columbia (or even throughout the United States)?


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