'Thank you' to The Oklahoman
My summer internship at The Oklahoman has come to end. But I won’t forget the skills I learned at this outstanding publication.
When I began working as an intern at the state’s largest newspaper in May, the world was two months into a global pandemic. People were taking to the streets across the nation to protest racial injustices, and President Donald Trump would soon restart his reelection campaign here in the Sooner State.
Thanks to the incredible journalists at The Oklahoman, I was able to cover all three topics – and more. With their help, I wrote features about people who survived the coronavirus, and told the stories of families who lost loved ones to this silent killer. I spoke to Americans of all creeds and backgrounds who stood in front of police departments and government buildings for days to advocate for the changes they feel the country needs to make. I spoke to self-described patriots who cheered as Trump took the stage at the BOK Center in Tulsa on June 20.
The people at The Oklahoman took the time to learn who I am, understand my quirks, and teach me how to be a fair, balanced, ethical journalist. They improved my writing by showing me how to express ideas tightly and neatly, and they improved my reporting by giving me the opportunity to ask different people varied questions. Being able to learn the “art of inquiry” from experienced reporters Chris Casteel and Nolan Clay is not just a gift, but also a privilege, and one for which I am forever grateful.
I am thankful to my editors – Don Mecoy, Ryan Sharp, and Clytie Bunyan – who gave me the opportunity to cover exciting events. Aside from protests and the pandemic, I got to tell the stories of Oklahomans who are making positive differences in the world. In July, I spoke to a father and son from Altus who helped restore one of possibly two operational B-29 bombers left in the world. Those are the kinds of people who make this state a great one, and I am honored to be able to share their stories with others.
But I hope to make it clear that I would never have had the opportunity to tell these stories without the people at The Oklahoman. Working for the state’s largest daily newspaper isn’t easy, but the veteran reporters and editors here took the time to help me. My editors found friendly ways to tell me how I can kick my reporting up a notch. I appreciate them greatly. They took a chance on a college freshman from Blackwell, Oklahoma, who has spent the last three years of his life writing for his hometown weekly, and they gave me the opportunity to grow both as a person and as a newspaperman.
I’ve read The Oklahoman for most of my life, and these people are my heroes. They’ve devoted their lives to holding the powerful to account and shedding light on some of our state’s most significant problems. They inspire me – and more importantly, they tell me what I need to hear. Nolan isn’t afraid to say when my stories are too long, and Chris makes it clear that I have to make some personal sacrifices if I really want to be a good journalist. More often than not, those sacrifices are ones of time, effort, and even pride.
My experience at The Oklahoman was a humbling one in many ways, but was also the single most rewarding experience of my life. I love journalism, and the talented reporters at The Oklahoman taught me how to enhance that passion. They cheered me on, fairly criticized me when my work needed improvement, and taught me that journalism is a line of work that one must love.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to The Oklahoman staff and the leaders of the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation for giving me this opportunity. Thanks to them, I’m one step closer to being the best journalist I can.
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