Ashland: a special report

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Towards the tail end of the fall 2013 semester I had the opportunity to work on a package for the Missourian focused on the small town of Ashland, Mo.

The specific piece I worked on was a text story and video about an old gymnasium at the Southern Boone High School that was the original gym for the school district and had been left to pretty much rot and fall apart. But, as a whole, the project highlighted how this “sleepy” town had grown rapidly in the last 10 years and how it has become the largest suburb of both Columbia and Jefferson City.

When the package was first published to the Missourian site it was one single page with this large grid featuring a cover photos for each story that, when you scrolled/clicked on it, would take you to each story of the package. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find that same landing page now and the project just exists as a list of six clickable headlines for each story. Needless to say, it was a much cooler project when it was displayed as a grid of featured images instead of this bland list, but it is still relatively easy to navigate (once you get passed the random survey questions to get to it).

But, I did have to do some digging (it ran in Jan. 2014) to get to it.

The entire project is a collection of text, videos and photos that work cohesively to tell the story of how this town has really grown in the last decade or so and I think this combination is effective in immersing the reader so that they get a feel for what Ashland is like without ever having been there. There are some great interviews with longtime and new residents of Ashland that give the audience some historical background and a new take on the town itself.

I believe the intended audience was residents of mid-Missouri and those who travel frequently between Jefferson City and Columbia and might not have ever noticed the small town of Ashland. The story really focused on the community as a whole and I think the intent was to inform residents of neighboring cities that Ashland is more than just a very tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

This project took nearly an entire semester to produce so, at the time, it was doing a great job of showing how businesses, schools and other area programs were helping to develop and unify the town as old and new residents alike reacted to the recent changes and growth. Since January there really hasn’t been much follow up.

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