This internship sure is flying by and so is this summer. I can’t believe it is the middle of July. Soon I will be in the humid-free weather of Wyoming and Montana.
I will be staying a week longer than my fellow interns because I’m attending the Native American Journalist Association conference in Minneapolis next week. So when I return from Minneapolis most of them will be gone.
For some reason this internship seems to be going by faster than any other I’ve had. I think it is because there are still so many story ideas I didn’t even get a chance to start. I’m planning to still cover some of them. I write for a blog in Montana and think these ideas will make good stories for that. With that said, some of the stories I have worked on here have been interesting.
I’ve never seen a closet with a hidden door before this summer. I shot video of the home of Murray Humphreys, second-in-command to Al Capone. Some of the most notorious mobsters in history probably hid out at this home outside of Norman. This house once had a silver dollar lined pool and a watch tower. Story of the Ages intern, Hannah Rieger, wrote the story and it is slated to run in August.
I’ve never met a man with more Route 66 tattoos than Ron Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. During my first week at the Oklahoman I was searching online for story ideas and came across a small article on Jones. I traveled three hours north to Independence, Kansas to video and photograph Jones getting two tattoos. I dubbed him as Route 66’s tattoo man because he has over 80 Route 66 themed tattoos on his back, legs and arms.
Only a week after I interviewed him in Kansas, he inked one more on his knee. This project took me a while to finish because writing and editing the video at the same time was time consuming.
All Oklahoman interns were invited to attend the Intern OKC initiative this summer. This program reaches out to all the interns in the Oklahoma City area with the hopes we will decide to live and work here. To an intern this translates into free lunch. However, during one of these luncheons, I came across a story. One speaker in particular caught my attention. Justin Echols is a police officer with the Oklahoma City police department. Echols is pursing his passion for jazz music. But, not only is jazz his passion, he is really good at it.
I am currently working on a story detailing Echols’ journey after discovering this hidden talent. I hope to have this story done soon because next weekend he is traveling overseas to perform and attend workshops at an important international jazz festival in Italy.
Some other stories I hope to have finished in the coming weeks are a story on the Cherokee Youth Choir in Tahlequah. I just talked with the director of the group. They are on a bus right now headed to San Diego to attend a conference. I am also working on a story about seniors in the workforce. I also plan to travel to Catoosa, Oklahoma to shoot video of the Blue Whale of Catoosa for a story about this well-known Route 66 attraction.
So with about two weeks left in my internship, I still have a lot to work on.
Journalism sure has changed a lot in the past two years. Journalism has changed as an industry and in terms of my own career.
The last time I was working in a newsroom was in 2008. Back then I was working as a staff photojournalist in Kansas City. Now I find myself a graduate student interning as a reporter. Instead of driving around town taking photographs I now sit behind a desk typing on a keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely perks to being a reporter. For one, I finally get my own desk, computer and telephone. For years I often worked from a laptop in my vehicle using only a cell phone to communicate.
I also finally get to experience journalism from a words point-of-view. In undergrad my love of words was expressed in my creative writing classes. I often found the journalism style of writing to be bland and dry. However, I am now rediscovering that writing for newspapers and other media outlets does not have to be that way. News and information is readily available everywhere, things are more niche and media outlets are trying to stand out from the crowd. In fact, in my short career in journalism there have been many things that have changed.
I first picked up a camera in college in 2002 when I was a sophomore. I was the first photographer on our campus newspaper staff to use the new digital camera. In 2005, I was hired as a photojournalist at the Kansas City Star. A year later, a video camera was thrust into my hands. It was the start of what I like to call the “multimedia craze” because suddenly everyone in the newsroom was expected to shoot video. However, I liked multimedia and video and continue to embrace it. Then a year later, the recession hit and layoffs began.
People that had worked at the newspaper for years were suddenly gone. Whispers of layoffs that started as rumors were later solidified into reality during department meetings. It was at this time I decided to return to school to learn the art of reporting and writing.
The atmosphere in journalism at that time was you needed to be a jack of all trades. Today that trend is still evident, but now newsrooms have embraced social media and networking. As an intern at the Oklahoman we are expected to have a Facebook and Twitter profile. At my other internships prior to my first full-time job, these might have been discouraged and seen as a waste of time. Now these social sites are encouraged and utilized. We are even required to write blogs like this one chronicling our experiences here at the newspaper.
Journalism certainly has changed since my first days in undergrad to my first job and now my first internship as a reporter. First of all, I never anticipated working on the words side of journalism. I never saw myself picking up a video camera and learning how to edit. And I never predicted someday I would be expected to tweet, post and blog as a journalist.
I know I haven’t been in the journalism game that long, but I wonder what changes will come in journalism and my career in the next 10 years.
I must admit I am a sucker for tourist traps. I am quickly learning that Oklahoma is a state that has a great deal of history and unique attractions. For example, Oklahoma is home to a fence made of bowling balls and a statue marking the first Girl Scout cookie sale.
I have always enjoyed moving to a new city for the summer and exploring all it has to offer. My favorite aspect of being an intern is the nomadic lifestyle. This is my fifth newspaper internship in a different state. I recently wrote a story that compiled the top 10 most popular summer destinations in Oklahoma. Hardy Watkins, Executive Director of Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation, stressed to Oklahomans to be a tourist in their own state. I couldn’t agree more.
How often have you heard someone say they have lived somewhere their whole life and never visited a famous attraction in their hometown or state? I must admit I am also guilty. Originally from Wyoming, I have only visited Yellowstone National Park once when I was very young. I do not remember much besides seeing a few buffalo on the side of the road. Even when I lived in Kansas City it wasn’t unusual to learn people did not venture far from their neighborhoods.
While here in Oklahoma, I hope to visit many of the sites on this summer’s popular summer destinations, as well as a few of my own. Some on my list include the Jim Thorpe Museum & Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Geronimo’s gravesite in Fort Sill. This past weekend, I took a drive out to Arcadia on Route 66 and visited Pops, a diner offering more than 500 varieties of soda pop. Then I drove an hour and a half north to Fairfax, Okla., home to two of Oklahoma’s Prima ballerinas of Native American descent, Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. While there I watched one of three ceremonial dances hosted by the Osage Nation during the month of June.
When I told some of friends up north I was interning in Oklahoma for the summer, some of their responses were funny. One of my friends said, “You must like sweating in a prairie” and another replied, “Why?” My response was “Why not Oklahoma?” This state has a lot of offer and being somewhat of a history buff and self-proclaimed tourist trap junky, there is a great deal to do and see here. So I guess I will echo the words of Watkins and encourage everyone to explore Oklahoma whether you are new to the state or call it home.