Subject/Slug: Squirrel Attack
Based on our research so far, the headline for this story might read:
Convergence students suffer squirrel attack after failure to heed warnings
Based on our research so far, the lead sentence of this story is:
Convergence professor Lynda Kraxberger always warned her students to leave the Futures Lab, before midnight citing safety concerns. But what students didn’t know was that this safety concern was a band of stuffed security squirrels that come to life at night.
In other words, this story is about:
A display of what was presumed to be stuffed squirrels in a convergence professor’s office turns out to be a new security system known as Squirrel Squadron. These squirrels attacked six students writing story pitches in the futures lab late one night. The students suffered cuts, scrapes and minor bleeding, but were told to “walk it off” by doctors at the Student Health Center.
Squirrel Squadron is a security unit of squirrels who pretend to be stuffed during the day, but patrol journalism buildings at night. The Squadron is trained to attack comm students, jayhawks, people who have drinks in the futures lab, or journalism students who prop open the doors. Jill McReynolds sent an email statement from the School of Journalism saying that the attack on the convergence students was a programming mistake and the students were not supposed to be attacked.
This incident has exploded over the internet opening the discussion about using rodents as university security guards, a practice that is only done at Mizzou.
A full-out Twitter fight is currently waging between J-schoolers and PETA about safety concerns about the trained guard squirrels. J-Schoolers believe they should have been about the possibility of violent rodents, but PETA thinks the squirrels are being treated unfairly by the university for what was only a mistaken attack. The university has announced that these squirrels, that serve as role models for the rest of the rodent community, will be receiving a salary freeze and will not receive their annual acorn bonus for the year. In addition, the must donate one weeks salary to the MU Center for Rodent Attack Trust of Students (RATS).
PETA says these punishments are two harsh for a group of rodents who collectively weigh less than 5 pounds. They argue that the university should pick on someone its own size.
One convergence student said the most upsetting part of the whole ordeal was that they were so injured they wouldn’t be able to do a team story on the altercation to redeem their automatic “A” from Lynda Kraxberger.
People should care because:
The funding for Squirrel Squadron project comes from Don Reynolds, the man for who RJI is named for. He created Squirrel Squadron because he says “it was a way to exploit Missouri’s one remaining untapped resource for the greater good of journalism.”
The story impacts (who?):
4804-ers, convergence faculty and others who frequent the futures lab
Which multimedia tools do you envision will best convey this material?
Twitter, unethically doctored images
Describe at least one potential sidebar element.
A timeline of the development of Squirrel Squadron, an iphone app plotting where the squirrels are at night
Who is the audience for your story?
How we came up with this idea:
Immersion reporting for the past 14 weeks.