Eliza Murphy

Multimedia Journalist

When Hell (or Heaven) Freezes Over

I had the pleasure of going on the Memphis trip with RTNDA. Naturally, we were all very excited to leave the arctic tundra-like climates in Missouri for the warm, sunny South. I honestly believe I may have been the most eager to head for warmer weather since I’ve yet to get used to Mizzou’s miserable winter weather. 
Little did we know, the less than desirable temperatures would follow us almost as if it were a part of the KOMU vehicle caravan directly down the interstate. When I think Memphis I think blues, BBQ, and Elvis. Ahhh…..and of course, the infamous Beale Street. I DO NOThowever, think snow. Not even just simple, pretty, fluffy snow. BLIZZARD. Blizzard is definitely a more appropriate term for what we experienced throughout our trip. As we stopped along the way to fill our tummies and our gas tanks, we witnessed this:

After grubbing our finger lickin’ good Popeyes chicken, we made the final trek across the Tennessee border and proceeded to enter what I now consider (despite the horrendous snow) heaven on earth. I AM OBSESSED WITH MEMPHIS. But that is another story in and of itself. I know the view entering Memphis while crossing the river is considered stunning by most, however us RTNDA’ers would never know this upon our arrival. Instead of river-front property and the awesome pyramid dome that glistens in the sunshine, we saw this:


The snow continued to fall in mass amounts the entire weekend which made maneuvering from station to station, in four inch pumps and head-to-toe professional attire – might I add, just a tad bit difficult. 
Naturally, this weather is unusual for Tennessee. We were reminded of this by every weather forecast we heard on our trip. The second we left to head back to Columbia, the sun was supposed to come out and temperatures rise back up to the mid 70s. Oh well. Again, ya win some…ya lose some.
Here is a link to the actual coverage of the freak weather, as pictured by Greeley Kyle’s former station, WMC, Action News 5:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29453399/
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As for this week’s story progression…

…drum roll please…

I’VE BEEN CLEARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll be completely honest, I think I’ll take a little a little break from reporting news for a bit. Not because I don’t love it, just because I am a tiny bit sleep deprived. My pillow misses me dearly. 

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Booze and Boobs

Apparently a study of almost 1.3 million women indicates average alcohol consumption increases cancer risks in women.


Breast cancer was most closely focused upon. The study indicates with each extra drink consumed per day, breast cancer risks are heightened. 

This week I took advantage of the event opportunity and covered the annual Gospel Explosion and Soul Food Feast. 

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Bad Boys, Bad Boys…What Ya Gonna Do?!

I’ll admit, I couldn’t care less if Michael Phelps smokes pot or not. 


He is an Olympic gold athlete that has already set records, made the history books and become a household name by the ripe age of 23. I’d say his accomplishments thus far in life overwhelmingly exceed this one immature decision. If Phelps’s fans and supporters are going to turn their backs on him because of one published photo displaying him in a less than honorable light, then I believe it’s their loss. To hold celebrities in such high stature virtually begs for disappointment.

NEWS-FLASH: THEY ARE HUMAN TOO! 

 I’d bet there is not a soul on this planet that hasn’t made a mistake throughout their lifetime and later regretted it. Phelps hit a bong (or so the picture would seem). Phelps has apologized. Not that this excuses his poor behavior, but Phelps has also won eight Olympic gold medals in the Beijing games alone. Have you done that? No. Have I done that? No. Has anyone EVER done that? No. Give the boy a break. I’d say he’s earned the right to a little recreational down time. Maybe he shouldn’t have chosen to break the law but maybe Sheriff Leon Lott shouldn’t have sent a dozen deputies to act upon a minor possession charge. 

That being said…

I can vouch for the fact that I have never before heard of anyone being investigated so heavily in Columbia, South Carolina for a simple possession charge. Yep, that’s right. My hometown is making headlines again. 

Embarrassingly enough, in my attempt to avoid this news coverage like the plague, I had completely missed the fact that Phelps was actually caught on camera in a home only several blocks from where I grew up. I grew up on the now infamous Blossom Street. I have met and quite admire Sheriff Lott, as does the rest of the city. Coincidentally Joe McCulloch, one of the attorney’s representing another client in the case, is good friends with my parents. 

But most significantly (at least for me), is the fact that Dick Harpootlian, my former employer and best friend’s father, is an attorney on the case in staunch opposition with Sheriff Lott and his harsh endeavors against Phelps. This particular point shocked me since Lott and Harpootlian are actually close friends and often work together. Throughout my time working for Harpootlian, Lott would be in our office for both business and friendly visits. I look forward to seeing how the charges brought against Phelps will pan out. Not because I am worried at all for Phelps’s sake but solely because Harpootlian always makes for entertaining news coverage. 

Posted below is the link to a Good Morning America interview with Harpootlian and McCulloch regarding the Phelps case. At one point in the story you’ll see them standing in the exact spot that the above picture was taken of Pat Sharpe and me. Pat and I were (well, he still currently is) Harpootlian’s couriers. Hands down one of the best jobs ever. 

http://a.abcnews.com/TheLaw/story?id=6862261&page=1
Harpootlian is interviewed in the story where I spent most of my time filing in the conference room. I hope this isn’t considered an example of me “riding the tricycle”… 

I’d like to consider it more as an opportunity of truly localizing a national headline. 

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My story progress is clearly another issue. Honestly, I still have to write the web version tonight but I have so much more fun with the blog that I wanted to tackle it first. Really get those creative juices flowin’, ya know? 

My story this week explains the influx in auto repair sales since less people are buying new cars and instead fixing the ones they already own. My sources were very cooperative and friendly, however nothing is going to be as exciting as meeting Bob and learning about increased gun sales. You may think I’m being sarcastic but I kid you not, shooting my first gun was an awesome experience. Bob and Tristan were the nicest little gun salesmen ever. When I was done interviewing I thought they were kidding when they asked if I wanted to try shooting a bit. Low and behold, they were serious. I’m actually going to brag a bit and say that I really am a good shot. I got to keep my outlined-man paper target thing as a souvenir and I couldn’t be more proud. If this whole journalism thing fails, I think I’ve found my calling. It’s safe to say Bob definitely spoiled me and set the standards very high for all my other sources. 

Mike and Tim at Perry Chevrolet were very nice as well. I suppose I am just biased because it’s not like they could give me a convertible to drive as an equivalent to my target shooting experience. Oh well, ya win some…ya lose some. 

Seeing as how it is already one ‘clock in the morning and I still have a web version to write and more story ideas to investigate I better call it a night on mister blogster. You’ll probably begin to notice that all of my posts occur very late (or early), depending on which way you look at it. I think it’s quite possible that I have a bit of insomnia but that’s a whole a whole ‘nother story that I’ll save for another day. Craig’s List and all of its random people, places and story ideas awaits…

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The Nation… In A Nutshell.


I originally heard about this NY Times piece through a friend of mine, the photographer for the story.  Brett, wherever in the world you and your camera are now, thank you! 
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/business/economy/22columbia.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&sq=columbia,%20sc%20economy&st=cse&scp=1
Apparently the economic shifts of Columbia, South Carolina parallels closest to the economic shifts of the country, as a whole. 
But how could a place this beautiful…
…be such a complete disaster?
Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina…aka “Cola,” much like our beloved (sort of.) little “CoMo,” you can understand my excitement to read anything the Times had to say about it. Columbia, SC is my heart, my home, my safe haven. It was extremely discouraging to read about these men and women’s personal struggles for financial security because to me, these people were much more than a name. The places described and experiences shared are all ones of which I am far too familiar. They say bad news travels fast…it somehow always manages to find me at Mizzou despite being a 13 hour car ride away. Gotta love technology. But seriously, I really am getting tired of the phone calls reporting another friend’s parent having been layed off or buddies of mine not returning to school this semester so they can devote more time to simply making money. It’s disheartening. Truly. 

My mom called me the other day after she was perusing the isles of Stein Mart for last minute birthday gifts. She told me about this woman, an employee, that was helping women in the dressing room and explaining she was only doing this to make ends meet. She had been forced to take early retirement from a job she didn’t mention and even now was having her Stein Mart hours slashed in half because of the economy. 

If Columbia, SC really is a microcosm of the country, then the country is in BIG trouble.
…as if we didn’t already know that. 
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As for my personal news gathering process, I’ve come up with a technique that is quite entertaining and really does lead me to some great stories. I’m apprehensive to even say what it is because everyone is going to steal my idea and nab the good ones first…but ok. I’ll share.

CRAIGS LIST! 

I could be on that site for hours upon hours anyway, so why not be looking for potential stories? Much like the phone book technique of just making random phone calls, I scan the random listings for anyone and anything that sounds interesting. And believe me,  CoMo provides plenty of unique material! I always enjoy the search for a story. It’s like winning a bet when you know you’ve landed a good one. I love the idea of reporting. Getting to meet so many interesting characters with amazing stories to tell never gets boring. Everything is great…until I get back to the lab. Walking into that room is like walking into a black hole. Hours pass in the blink of an eye and yet, there I am, still editing the SAME PACKAGE. I guess it can only get better from here. If not, don’t tell me. I’m trying to remain optimistic for as long as possible. 

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