I worked on putting this package together and editing it over two months: A series of reported essays on white privilege in Columbia two years after the Mizzou protests. 

"During every stage of creating this package, Ron Stodghill, our advanced writing professor, reminded our group of 11 writers to 'swing for the fences.'

"Personally, I prefer 'shoot for the moon.' When you’re taking on something as incendiary as race and privilege in a town two years removed from a student-led protest that made national headlines, landing among the stars sounds a hell of a lot better than warning-track power. Or, even worse, a big swing and a miss...

"To be sure, MU’s and Columbia’s efforts to roll back white privilege (or agree it even exists) have been stubborn at best. A recent university employee survey suggests signs of 'whitelash' as workers complain the university has gone 'too far' to accommodate the interests of its black students and faculty. Hate groups and far-right political organizations have turned to MU’s campus as fertile recruiting ground for new members. Even the police chief has clashed with local residents and community groups, including the NAACP, and resisted the push for the department to examine possible racial profiling by its officers.

"In this collection of essays, a team of Vox writers explored the charged terrain around white privilege in Columbia — what is it really, where does it lurk, and how do we prevent it from dividing the city further?"

This piece was supposed to be a simple photo essay with maybe 500 words of text. It ended up becoming one of the most challenging stories of the semester. I worked closely with the writer, one of Vox's editors and the photography team to turn in a 3,000-word photo essay feature.  

"The graveyard shift is not for everyone. Working the long hours between dusk and dawn takes its toll on health, relationships and overall mental stability, yet someone has to cover them. It's a counterintuitive way of life, but the world doesn't stop turning after the sun goes down."

A sketch of Mun Choi draped in Mizzou gold set the tone for an explosive, all-encompassing profile of the new University of Missouri System president. All four years I attended UConn, Choi was a provost, so I had a unique knowledge of the man when I enrolled at Mizzou. I knew I wanted to tackle a piece about Choi because the mid-Missouri media was not including Choi's past in their work about him. 

After three months of tireless reporting, fact-checking and editing, we ended up with this nice piece of narrative journalism.

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Edited: Nonfiction feature stories I planned, edited and produced for print and online with writers, editors, photographers and videographers. Find a full slate from Vox Magazine here and the Long River Review here.

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© 2023 by Sten Spinella.
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