Our trainers


Rob Weir

Director of Digital Development

Affiliate Graduate Faculty, Columbia Missourian Missouri School of Journalism Columbia, MO 65211-1200

ROB WEIR started his journalism career at 15, working in the job printing department of The Examiner in Independence, Mo. A third-generation Missouri journalist, Weir is a 1999 graduate of the University of Missouri with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. Weir subsequently worked on a master’s degree in U.S. history at Missouri, studying partisanship at Missouri newspapers from 1867-1890. After leaving Missouri, he took a job at the Star-News in Wilmington, N.C., working as a copy editor and then as assistant features editor. He became the first managing editor of the Columbia Missourian’s eMprint editions in 2005, and is currently the director of digital development for the Columbia Missourian. He’s in charge of all the technology for the Missourian, Vox magazine, MyMissourian and other projects of the news, magazine and photo departments. His professional interests include digital journalism, information controls and freedom of information, and the intersection of technology and popular culture.


Leah Becerra

Leah Becerra is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and business news for Newsy. Before coming to Newsy in 2015, she worked at the Springfield News-Leader and the Omaha World-Herald. She was also previously a freelance technology writer for Gizmodo.

While working in the journalism industry she's also guest lectured at the Omaha Code School, Interface Web School and the Missouri School of Journalism. In 2012, Leah graduated with Bachelor’s of Journalism from the University of Missouri.

Before her journalism career, Leah worked as a computer technician.



Assistant Professor

JIM FLINK joined the strategic communication area at the Missouri School of Journalism after more than 20 years in television news, four years as a start-up executive and one year as a mobile video news consultant. He is leveraging his traditional and new media newsroom experience and integrating content creation techniques and timelines normally seen in newsrooms into the agency paradigm.

Flink also continues working with the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the School, focusing on best practices in mobile, video news content and production, as well as distribution and monetization strategies.

During four years as vice president of news operations and general manager of Newsy, Flink led, coached and cultivated a young start-up newsroom into an established, internationally respected newsroom publishing quality video content on emerging digital platforms. Under his leadership, Newsy delivered highly-engaging, timely, scalable content for iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Web for partners such as MSN, AOL, Huffington Post, Mashable and more. Newsy also won the 2011 “Appy” for Best in News, beating out CNN and Flipboard, and the 2013 “Appy” for Best in iPad Publishing.

Prior to his new media career, Flink worked for Kansas City’s KMBC-TV from 1995-2010, serving as a primary anchor and reporter for the most-watched ABC affiliate in America. Flink’s work has been featured on “Larry King Live,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN News, BBC, and in documentaries and film. Jim has also won many awards: Emmy, Murrow, AP, Sigma Delta Chi, Missouri and Kansas Broadcasters and many more. Flink has international journalism experience, working for the Korean Broadcasting System, UNESCO and guest teaching in The Philippines.

Flink has taught the next generation of journalists during two decades of his career, serving in adjunct roles at the Missouri School of Journalism, Avila University, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Park University.

Flink received his bachelor of arts degree in political science from Westminster College and his master’s in journalism from Missouri. In 2010, he was awarded the Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.



Associate Professor

Missouri School of Journalism Columbia

MIKE MCKEAN serves as the facilitator of the Media of the Future initiative for Mizzou Advantage and directs the Futures Lab, the experimental newsroom and technology testing center of the Reynolds Journalism Institute. He founded the School’s Convergence Journalism program and is a longtime member of the MU Information Technology Committee.

McKean is a leader in the School’s partnerships with Apple, Inc., Adobe Systems, Hearst Innovation, AT&T, Sprint and other technology-driven firms to transform journalism education through pervasive computing. He is a frequent presenter to media companies and journalism schools in China. McKean helped design convergence journalism curricula at Nanjing University and Shantou University in China and at Moscow State University in Russia. He has lectured and organized workshops at the European Journalism Centre in Brussels, Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, Universidad de los Andes in Chile and University of Navarra in Spain.

McKean has received the MU Faculty-Alumni Award and the Kemper Teaching Fellowship, one of the top faculty awards on the MU campus. He hosts Views of the News, a weekly media criticism program that airs onKBIA-FM and KBIA.org. McKean earned a bachelor’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism in 1979 and a master of arts in political science from Rice University in 1985. He has served on the School’s faculty since 1986.



Associate Professor

Missouri School of Journalism Columbia

AMY SIMONS teaches multi-platform reporting and editing to students in the convergence journalism interest area.

Since joining the faculty in August 2010, Simons has developed an interest in international journalism, training professionals on campus and abroad. She has traveled across China and the European Union, teaching Web-first workflows, mobile journalism techniques and how to use social media as a reporting tool and a means to disseminate journalistic content.

Simons hosts and produces Views of the News, a weekly media criticism program that airs on KBIA-FM and KBIA.org. She also serves as the adviser to ONA Mizzou, the local club of the Online News Association and as a mentor in the school’s student competitions. In July 2015, Simons helped a group of students launch the Women in Media student organization. As that club’s adviser, Simons supports members as they launch theircareers in journalism, advertising and public relations.

Previously Simons worked as digital news editor for the Chicago Tribune, where she helped develop and execute the editorial programming strategy for chicagotribune.com. While at the Tribune, Simons worked closely with the newsrooms of WGN-TV, CLTV News and WGN-AM to coordinate the coverage of daily and planned news events. Before joining the Chicago Tribune, she spent seven years at CLTV News, Tribune’s 24-hour news channel covering Chicago and the suburbs. Simons worked her way up through the ranks, joining the newsroom as the assignment desk assistant and leaving as an executive producer. At CLTV, she produced the award-winning business magazine show, Your Money, and was responsible for all of the station’s election coverage. Simons is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.



Associate Professor

Missouri School of Journalism Columbia

STEVE RICE is an assistant professor in convergence journalism. Among the courses he teaches is one on the fundamentals of multimedia, which gives sophomore-level journalism students an overview of video, audio, still photography, audio slide shows, Web and social media.

Rice was a member of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s news video team (2009-2010) that produced studio and news projects for the Star Tribune’s website. He helped produce a daily news program called NewsBreak, a number of sports and entertainment weekly videos, plus breaking news and feature events. Rice worked with the other staff photographers who were making the transition from stills to video and helped train the University of Minnesota multimedia interns.

Rice worked as a still photographer and videographer for the Star Tribune’s feature sections (2007-2009) with an emphasis on food photography, video stories and general feature photography. He produced a self-directed project on Twin Cities’ actors, working with a reporter to feature one person each quarter.

Rice shared responsibility for installing, testing and training users on the Star Tribune’s DTI pagination system with a five-person team (2005-2007). He was responsible for supervising 22 Star Tribune staff photographers and five picture editors (1997-2005).

Rice designed and directed the production of Knight Ridders’book, “Come Hell and High Water,” on the flooding that devastated Grand Forks, North Dakota. He worked as a picture and project editor for Bill Gates’ digital imaging company responsible for editing a photographer’s archive of work to be included in the Corbis stock collection.

AME/Graphics for the Miami Herald and under his leadership, the photography department won two photo Pulitzers and were finalists on three other occasions. The photo department’s work from Hurricane Andrew was part of the Gold Medal for Public Service in 1993. He was responsible for photography, graphics and design with a 50-person department.

Rice earned an associate in arts degree in photography at Orange Coast Community College in California, and a bachelor of arts degree in photojournalism from California State University Fullerton.


Mark Horvit is the executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors. He oversees training, conferences and services for more than 5,000 members worldwide, and for programs including the National Institute of Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) and DocumentCloud. Horvit also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, where he teaches investigative reporting. He serves as a member of the board of directors of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Sunlight Foundation. He previously worked as a reporter, editor and on the projects teams at U.S. newspapers in Texas, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida


Miranda Patrucic is a lead investigative reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Highlights of her work include cooperating with the BBC over a series on Montenegro's ruling family, titled First Family, First Bank; and she has moved on, in partnership with Stevan Dojcinovic and Dejan Milovac of MANS center in Montenegro, to reveal Unholy Alliances - How Organized Crime, Government And Business Interact In Montenegro. She was the lead reporter on a joint project with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on tobacco smuggling in Montenegro, uncovering many of the Prime Minister's hidden assets. She has also worked on ICIJ’s project Looting the Seas uncovering $4 billion black market in endangered bluefin tuna. Both projects won IRE's Tom Renner Award. She is much in demand worldwide for training journalists in how to analyze financial records. She is based in Sarajevo.


Nathan Lawrence is the digital content director at KBIA Public Radio and an adjunct instructor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

He has previously contributed reporting and photojournalism to Mental Floss and The New York Times.

Lawrence’s work has highlighted controversial employee compensation programs, inconsistencies in state environmental regulation enforcement and the National Security Agency’s interpretation Morse code used on the RMS Titanic. Recently, information he helped uncover played a key role in debates over the crowd size at President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

David Herzog

DAVID HERZOG serves as the academic adviser to the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), a joint program of the Missouri School of Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., a global association of journalists. Herzog specializes in using geographic information systems (GIS) tools to report the news and is author of the new book Mapping the News: Case Studies in GIS and Journalism, which explores how journalists have used analytic mapping software to discover news stories.

Before joining the J-School faculty in January 2002, Herzog spent five years as an investigative reporter at the Providence Journal in Rhode Island, where he used computer-assisted reporting to cover public corruption.

Earlier, he was the editor for computer-assisted reporting at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., a business reporter for the Baltimore Sun and general assignment reporter for other newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Herzog holds a bachelor’s degree in radio-television-film from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Yelnur Alimova

Yelnur Alimova has started her journalism career at 19, working as a correspondent for "Zhas Alash" newspaper. She graduated from journalism faculty of Kazakh National University named after al-Farabi in 2009. One year later, she attained her master's degree in journalism at the same University.

Yelnur was among the first group of journalists in Kazakhstan who participated in 5-week training program organized by Open Society Foundation in Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan press club with collaboration of Missouri School of Journalism in 2014. Recently she has become one of the trainers of this program and teaches data journalism course.

Yelnur graduated from Durham University in the UK in 2017 where she attained her master's degree in Social Research Methods (Sociology).  She considers that doing master's degree in Sociology enhanced her confidence in Journalism since sociological background helps to use statistics, graphs and info graphics in Journalism.  

Her professional interests include data journalism and multimedia journalism.