12:16 PM

Missouri Press-Bar Commission welcomes four new members

Four journalists joined the Missouri Press-Bar Commission in April to foster better communications between the media and the bench and bar.

Jeff Haldiman and Jordan Yount were elected as at-large representatives, while Ashley Byrd was elected to the diversity seat. Harrison Keegan was appointed to represent one of the three largest newspapers in the state, the Springfield News-Leader.

Formed in 1972, the Missouri Press-Bar Commission is comprised of nearly 30 media professionals, lawyers, and judges who seek to improve communication and understanding between the media and the bench and The Missouri Bar. The commission creates projects and programs to better educate the public and encourage cooperation between the press and legal professionals to strengthen service to the First and Sixth Amendments.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Byrd is the director of news services at Learfield Communications and has 30 years of journalistic and production experience across multiple media forms. As a woman, member of the LGBTQ community, and mother of Black children, Byrd said her personal experiences and passion for journalism bring a vital perspective to the commission.

“Missourinet and our Learfield journalists cover the courts and legal issues, and that makes us a partner in civic education,” Byrd said. “I am honored to work with the bar in strengthening that role.”

Haldiman works as the police, courts, and Cole County reporter for the Jefferson City News Tribune. A graduate of the University of Central Missouri, Haldiman has nearly 30 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism.

“I find that there are still many aspects of the legal system that I haven't dealt with and that's one of the reasons I find covering courts fascinating,” he said. “I look forward to being able to discuss legal matters with some of the most knowledgeable individuals in the state on this topic.”

A Missouri State University graduate, Keegan is a content coach at the Springfield News-Leader and covers crime and public safety issues in the Ozarks. He said his is excited to join the commission and learn how to even better report on legal topics.

“I look forward to representing The Springfield News-Leader and our readers as we work to keep the public informed of the important actions taking place in courtrooms across Missouri,” he said.

Yount is editor of Missouri Lawyers Media and has worked in a wide range of media roles over the last 30 years, including reporter, news director, adjunct professor, communications director and consultant, and chief storyteller. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Yount said he wants to improve communication between legal and media professionals by creating an understanding between the two industries – particularly why it’s important for lawyers and judges to respond to reporters’ questions, and what reporters can do to better report on legal topics.

“Like most professions, the legal industry has its own jargon — except most of their jargon is in Latin — and it takes time and effort to understand the complexities of court cases and legal filings in order to accurately report on them,” Yount said.

The Missouri Press-Bar Commission still seeks a diversity representative who reflects diverse media communities in terms of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geography, audience size, and/or platform. Click here­­­­ to apply for the vacancy.

Members of the press are also encouraged to utilize the free media resources, including a recently revised Media Law Handbook, legal glossary, and News Reporter’s Handbook. These materials are created by the Missouri Press-Bar Commission and are available through The Missouri Bar.