COLUMBIA, Mo. (April 18, 2023) — Sky Chadde, BJ’14, MA ’19, an investigative journalist for nonprofit digital newsroom Investigate Midwest, will deliver the Missouri School of Journalism’s Smith/Patterson Science Journalism Lecture at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, in 214 Lee Hills Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and free pizza will be available beginning at 5:30.
Chadde’s journalism covers the agriculture industry and its workers and sometimes features collaborations with reporters at other prominent outlets. His 2020 story about the plights of Missouri meatpacking workers working during the COVID-19 pandemic — reported in partnership with three USA TODAY journalists — won the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Outstanding Occupational Safety and Health News Story of the Year Award.
“Sky’s work at Investigate Midwest has focused on accountability journalism and data-driven storytelling,” said Sara Shipley Hiles, director of the Smith/Patterson lecture program and an associate professor at the School of Journalism. “Many of his stories highlight the difficult conditions faced by farmworkers in fields and factories across the Midwest.”
The Smith/Patterson Science Journalism Lecture brings a respected journalist to campus each semester through a partnership with the Pulitzer Center. Alumni Russ and Gail Smith founded the program in honor of pioneering science journalism professor Joye Patterson, who taught at the Journalism School from 1965 to 1989. The program includes an annual $5,000 student fellowship, the winner of which will be announced soon.
Chadde’s lecture will offer a behind-the-scenes look at covering labor abuses in the industry, including practical tips and tricks for student journalists borne from Chadde’s firsthand experiences — an example of the School’s Missouri Method approach of experiential learning beyond the boundaries of a classroom.
I want to talk about how we actually do this kind of reporting. We use a lot of documents and data from the government in order to investigate what is happening in these workplaces, because they’re private workplaces and it’s really hard to get in there.Sky Chadde
“I want to talk about how we actually do this kind of reporting,” Chadde said. “We use a lot of documents and data from the government in order to investigate what is happening in these workplaces, because they’re private workplaces and it’s really hard to get in there. And then how to approach workers and get them to talk to you, because that’s really the best way to get an idea of what’s going on.”
His status as an alum isn’t Chadde’s only connection to the School of Journalism. Investigate Midwest is one of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk’s 10 partner newsrooms, each of which employs a dedicated environmental reporter through a partnership with Report for America. The Desk, which is based at the School, covers agriculture, water, climate change and other environmental issues across the Mississippi River Basin.
Chadde serves as an editor alongside reporter Mónica Cordero Sancho, the outlet’s Report for America corps member.
“I love that I get to work with Sky again through the Ag & Water Desk,” Hiles said. “Our partnership with Investigate Midwest brings investigative strength to the team with its focus on agribusiness.”
The lecture will be Chadde’s first return to campus since earning his master’s degree in 2019. But while much of what Mizzou represents to him hasn’t changed — it will always be the place where he met his fiancé and earned both of his journalism degrees — he will walk into Lee Hills in the role of a speaker, not a student.
“I remember when other reporters would come and give talks, and I was a little starstruck sometimes,” Chadde said. “To think that now I’m that person…I’m not like any of the people I was starstruck by, but it’s exciting for me to be on the other side of that.”
A Q&A opportunity will immediately follow the lecture.
About Smith/Patterson Lecture Series
The Smith/Patterson Science Journalism Fellowship and Lecture Series was established in 2008 by School of Journalism alumnus Russell G. Smith II and his wife, Gail, to honor Joye Patterson, Smith’s former professor and mentor. The program is also part of a partnership with the Pulitzer Center established in 2017 to enhance the School’s emphasis on science, health and environmental journalism.
Updated: April 28, 2023