My internship is over and it’s time to reflect on what I’ve learned this summer. While I learned a lot between the copy and digital desks, I wanted to share some thoughts from my time on NewsOK.com. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from working on NewsOK.com that apply to both the website and life.
5. When it rains, it pours
Some days on the digital desk would be a breeze. I’d come in, moderate some comments, post some wire stories, change some widgets and it’d be nice and calm for the day.
And then other days would be a little tricky. Sometimes there’d be two breaking news items at the same time and you’d have to send two breaking news alerts and place the stories at the top of the website at the same time. Sometimes you’d get a bunch of wire content or comments that need to be moderated all at once, and you have to do it as quickly as you can. Sometimes AP would be extremely late at posting an important story like the Jerry Sandusky verdict and you have to improvise. Sometimes you’d have meetings to go to during all of this. Sometimes these things would all go wrong at the same time and you’d want to “rip your hair out and set it on fire,” as I often say (my high school yearbook advisor taught me that one).
Don’t rip your hair out and set it on fire, as I have never actually done. When it rains, it pours. Take a deep breath and power through it. As long as you are alive and the website works, it is OK.
4. Trial and error is the best learning process
They always say you’ll never know until you try. So when it comes to life and working on to the website, think of new ideas and just go for it. Just make sure you have a good, quick backup plan lined up in case something goes wrong (or if you’re working on the website, always keep the regions admin open).
3. Even intelligent people curse
Moderating comments on the website sounds like it’d be boring, but it was one of my favorite parts because it’s how I got to know our readers. Some people leave novels and others leave very short responses. Some people stay on topic and others will find any excuse to talk about whatever issue they really care about (spoiler alert: it’s usually health care, Oklahoma football or anything political). A few of the commenters are digital frenemies. They continue conversations across multiple articles and hold grudges like nobody’s business. They were my favorites.
But a good chunk of people curse, including the intelligent people with good arguments. Nothing breaks my heart more than having to delete a good, thoughtful comment just because someone ends it by calling someone else a name or curses. Even intelligent people curse, but sometimes we have to delete their comments, too.
2. Adding Bill Hader makes anything better
When I was running the site on my first Saturday, I was thinking of some creative ways to get people excited about the NBA Playoffs. We typically post one story an hour to Facebook and everything else automatically tweets. But I noticed that our Saturday social media traffic was pretty slow compared to the other days of the week, so I decided to switch it up.
I went through one of our reader-submitted photo galleries of how people Thunder Up. I found a picture of Bill Hader, who is a Tulsa native and is one of the best “Saturday Night Live” cast members of all time (in my opinion, of course.) So I posted the picture of Bill Hader to Facebook and Twitter and asked people how they were Thundering Up for the NBA Finals, and reminded them that they could still submit photos to our gallery. The photo got a bunch of likes on Facebook, and we got plenty of retweets and replies on Twitter. We also got more than 20 photo submissions before I left that morning, which is really good for a Saturday. People loved seeing a celebrity Thunder Up, and I loved having the extra photos to add to the gallery. When in doubt, add Bill Hader.
1. Trying to figure out what went wrong isn’t nearly as important as fixing it
In life and online, things will always go wrong. Code will break, stories will go missing, and widgets will magically double. Sometimes it takes you five seconds to know what went wrong, and sometimes it takes you an hour. Sometimes it’ll take even longer. While finding out what went wrong is important, it isn’t nearly as important as fixing it. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find out what went wrong, because you definitely should. But you can’t exactly leave a broken widget on the homepage for an hour waiting for an answer from someone else. Sometimes you need to improvise and come up with a Plan B and deal with the detective work later. As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”
It’s my last day as a local desk intern at The Oklahoman. I’ve never been good with goodbyes, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Here are some things I’ve learned this summer.
- Wherever I am in the world, there’s going to be someone kind enough to help me out.
- I can be miles and miles from home and actually survive.
- Singing in the car is a great stress reliever. Eric Church’s “Springsteen” was a summer favorite.
- I’m leaving this summer with a more conversational style of writing.
- As a journalist, I might have to dig through someone’s trash to find the facts.
- The story isn’t in my notes, it’s in my head.
- Compassion is important in journalism.
- Blue-green algae is toxic, especially to children and animals.
- Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days for 911 calls.
- The scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma’s state bird.
This is only a taste of what I’ve learned. If I listed everything, I’d be writing forever. I’ve enjoyed my time in Oklahoma and at the paper. I’m excited about what my future holds. Soon, I’ll be “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
Let me start by apologizing for not posting nearly as much as I told myself I would. Once a week turned into about once a month. I know these goodbye posts are probably all going to be the same, unless I’m awkwardly the only one that posts one. So I want to make mine more of a thank you note to the Oklahoman and everyone here because I have more gratitude for them than I think they realize. So here we go:
Whenever I started high school, I had no idea journalism was something I wanted to pursue. I’m not going to complain and say I went to a poor and underprivileged high school, but I will say that the year I started high school, budget cuts were happening everywhere and one of its first victims was the school newspaper. So I never had that. I never got to have a moment where I wrote for a school paper, had a byline and realized my life calling.
But I did have Newsroom 101. During my sophomore year of high school someone gave me an application for Newsroom 101 and I thought it would be an interesting opportunity, so I filled out the application and sent it in to The Oklahoman the day it was due.
Being in Newsroom 101 opened my eyes to a world I never knew I was missing out on. For three years, I gave up sleeping in on Saturday mornings to drive out to The Oklahoman and be a part of Newsroom 101 and I loved every minute of it. I would not trade those Saturday mornings for anything. The Oklahoman made me fall in love with journalism.
I could talk up The Oklahoman until my face turns blue. I could go on and on about how invaluable Newsroom 101 has been to me and so many others. Aside from giving me great references and great mentors (Carrie, I owe so much to you and am so grateful that you gave up your Saturdays for us. It meant a lot to me.)
The Oklahoman’s impact on my life doesn’t end there. So let’s fast forward two years.
This was my first internship. For whatever reason, Joe took a chance on me. I hope he isn’t regretting it, because it’s a little late at this point.
For the past two months, I have had a fantastic time being an intern here. I got to talk to people and do things I would have never imagined. The amount of investment The Oklahoman puts into their interns really blows me away. This has been an unforgettable summer, and I owe about a thousand “thank you’s” to just about everyone here. The Oklahoman has felt like a home. It has been so welcoming, supportive and fun.
I fell in love with journalism all over again this summer, and I have The Oklahoman to thank for that.
— Conner Rohwer
P.S. I am really going to miss most of the interns. You guys were the icing on the cake.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks interning at The Oklahoman. I’m always asked the same two burning questions by my friends or fellow student journalists: “What do you do at the Oklahoman?” and “How do you like working there?”
I currently work for as the online communities intern in the social media hub on the 9th floor. Online communities pertains to the “know it” topics and their expansive library. If you’re unfamiliar with the “know its,” they pool together information, resources and articles published in The Oklahoma and on NewsOK into an online library.
These topics are developed as a joint multimedia project, using all of the OPUBCO newsgathering sources, from reporters to photographers, videographers, data research personnel and archivists, as well as from wire services, syndicates and other sources.
If you ever wanted to know more about any of the “know it” topics, ranging from addiction to mental health, cultural awareness to finance, recreation to Sam Bradford, there is a “know it” section created for each and every one of them.
But there also are the online communities. Edmond, Midwest City, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon serve as the hub of each community, which also includes surrounding towns and areas. Not only are there stories, photos and resource material compiled by Oklahoman and NewsOK staff members, but there are contributions from readers.
If you want to contribute information, praise or promote events in your area, you can do so by adding the following emails to your mailing list.
firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org
Each community’s site has instructions on how to send in material. Just follow the directions.
Every morning, I come in armed with an AP Stylebook, cup of coffee and my own offbeat sense of humor as I sort through reader-submitted releases and news. I copy edit these releases and send them to Communities Editor Don Gammill or on occasion Metro Editor Kimberly Burk for the “News From You” page that runs each Saturday in The Oklahoman.
Occasionally, I will write about one of these topics featured in the “know it” library on our Know It blog and I’ll tweet out Don’s traffic column and “know it” related items on my personal twitter account.
What I love about journalism is investigative reporting, open records, entertainment writing and seeing language put to good use.
That’s “know its,” my internship and me. If you have questions, send me a note.
I’m still waiting for this internship to feel like actual work.
Even though it’s barely been two weeks, I have already done some pretty cool things. But so far, week two is looking a lot better than week one. In the past two days I have been on Oklahoma’s only zip line tour and I’ve interveiwed jazz’ fastest growing star, Esperanza Spalding.
Esperanza Spalding came out of nowhere in 2011 and won the Grammy Award for best new artist. She beat Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons. She’s kind of awesome. Her music is beautiful.
If Matt knew how easily I get startstruck, he might have second guessed giving me the story. One time I froze up completely when I met the host of a BYU-TV cooking show I was on in college. As if mormon cooking show hosts are famous.
Anyway, I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. I had a great conversation with her and found out some pretty cool things that I’ll probably never use for the article, but sometimes my curiousity gets the better of me.
Today, I got to go out to a zip line they built just outside of Tulsa. I met some great people, had good interviews and I conquered my fear of heights. This thing was more than 50-feet off the ground, and they expect you to just step right off the platform and trust the harness won’t break and send you falling to your death*.
Originally, I was just going to get information because I didn’t have a camera with me, but they literally forced me into a harness against my will and made me walk to the top. OK, that didn’t happen. But it almost felt like it.
I don’t feel like this has been work. This internship has already given me some great memories and I can’t wait to make more this summer. I wasn’t about to pull my cell phone out and risk dropping it in the forest, so this is a random picture of a kid I found on the Internet. That might be creepy, but this is about what the forest looks like when you’re doing the tour.
*I know Joe had this fear for me, too, when Matt told me I would be doing this. I survived, though, and they put you through a quick training before you do the course.
I don’t know about you, but I get really bored really easily. So I make playlists to get me through the boring parts of my day. Don’t get me wrong, I love journalism and the satisfaction of putting out a good story. But when you’re sitting at a desk for 30 minutes waiting for that one email that is keeping you from doing your job, you start to go a little crazy. These are some of the songs I have been listening to lately. There are a few older ones (and by old I mean 2011) and a few newer ones but they keep me sane and make me dance (not literally, I haven’t made myself that comfortable in the office yet).
1. Holiday by Miami Horror
For a band called Miami Horror, there’s really nothing scary about them. This track gets me out of bed in the morning.
2. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains [Damien Taylor Remix]) by Arcade Fire
Sometimes I honestly think that a remix is better than the original. This is one of those times.
3. A Little Too Young by Sunday Lane (She’s an Oklahoma Native)
She’s one of my favorite artists to come from Oklahoma.
4. Heaven by Emeli Sande
I would literally marry her voice. Unfortunately, that’s not legal yet.
5. Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club
Try not dancing when listening to this song. I dare you.
6. Amor Fati by Washed Out
This is one of the best songs to work to on a rainy day, and we’ve had plenty of those lately.
7. I Belong in Your Arms by Chairlift
Chairlift is stuck in the 1980s and I love every minute of it.
8. Hang With Me by Robyn
This song continues to be my favorite pop song.
9. 1901 by Phoenix
This song never gets old. Ever. I’ve been obsessed with it for a year now.
10. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whale
This is just a song hipsters and mainstream music lovers both seem to love a lot.
Since this got removed from my actual story in print, I will say it here.
Noodling is basically one big ‘That’s What She Said” Joke.
Ah! Ok, I can breathe now.
Seriously though, when I got a hold of the noodlers that fellow intern Zach Gray and I would be following around, I couldn’t even imagine what would be in store for us for the weekend. I’ve been to the Okie Noodling Tournament in Paul’s Valley before, but to now be in cahoots with two guys who are allowing us to go watch the process of catching these river (and lake) monsters, I was more than just your average excited.
Zach and I met Tell and Chris in the parking lot of Mazzio’s Pizza in Stillwater, and we set off toward lake McMurtry in Payne County. Arriving just before 7 p.m., which was the start of the actual alloted time for the tournament, Zach and I climbed into the boat set off with Tell across the lake just as the sun was starting to set.
The actual process of getting in the water with thousands of dollars in camera equipment was much, much trickier.
With no water protective housing to aid us except for a camera that wasn’t producing the pictures Zach wanted, we both used the strategy of keeping one hand dry and praying to God that the tricky lakes of Oklahoma didn’t surprise us with some massive drop off.
Only once did things get hairy and that happened when I tripped over a fishing line that was left from a previous fool… but thankfully I had four feet of monopod to hoist the camera into the air while I took in too large of a gulp of tasty Canadian River.
No fish were caught the first night we went out, which was a real shame as the light was beautiful and the water felt great. Upon our return to shore, we struck up a deal with Tell that we would meet him and Chris the next morning in the hopes that we would find an unlucky fish or two along the Canadian River.
The whole experience was amazing and while I was riding in the boat under a setting sun with way too many people in it, all I could think about was how lucky I am to be in this funny profession of journalism where I can go and hang with guys that just like to have a good time and stick their hands in holes so catfish will bite them… seriously they want to do this!
Noodle on noodlers.
Stillwater’s Other Lives apparently impressed Mates of State when they opened for the group during a show in Norman this past spring.
Other Lives is set to open nine shows for the San Francisco native Mates of State, starting with a show in Columbus, Ohio in October.
For a full list of shows with Mates of State, click here.
Those shows will come after the band plays six shows with Indie Folker Bon Iver in September.
Plus, the band made perhaps one of the greatest music videos in the history of music videos that take place in space… (Probably only edged out by Michael Jackson’s Scream video. You just can’t beat Pong in space.)
Through journalism, I have acquired a great interest in historical events. As a result, I would like to discuss the TOP 3: Most Significant Historical Events in the history of the United States.
With a rich history of a little more than 230 years, the TOP 3 events isn’t an easy task, but why not go for challenge?
The single most important event in U.S. history is:
1.) The Declaration of Independence in 1776
Without the Declaration of Independence, the U.S.A. — as it exist today– probably would have never been… I would dare to say that this was the time when Democracy existed in its purest form. Not that Democracy doesn’t exist today, but I strongly believe the nation has strayed far from democracy and what the “founding fathers” intended it to be.
2.) The Civil War
The Civil War should be in any list about historical events considering the fact that it was the Civil War that United the States. Without the War The USA may have easily been known as the DSA – The Divided States of America.
I wonder if the U.S. would be like N. Korea and S. Korea today?
Many people believe the Civil War happened as a result of slavery. However, The Civil war was no more than a power struggle between two competing economies, two competing viewpoints and two competing presidents who wanted to be on top…For the record, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all states in South. In my opinion, the slaves became free because the war devastated the South leaving them with very few means to continue to enforce slavery to the same degree they had before the Civil war.
3.) The Civil Rights Movement
I shutter to think about what the America we know today would be like without the Civil Rights movement. In spite of what many may think the Civil Rights was not about race. It was about obtaining the very rights that were sought for all citizens of the “new world.” The “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Those unalienable rights were sought for every U.S. citizen regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, etc.
P.S. Its hard to analyze events that have occurred within the last 20-30 years or so because I don’t think we can even begin to grasp the magnitude of just how those events may have changed American History. So I did not include any events that occurred within that decade.
Other events that I thought about choosing from include: WWI, WWII, Pearl Harbor, the Womens Rights Movement, the assassination of former president Kennedy, the Louisiana Purchase, the Moonwalk, the Industrial Revolution, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl,the Vietnam War, the Mexican American war…there’s so many events that could be listed here this list is by no means exhaustive.
Looking for something awesome to do on a Tuesday night?
Then gallop on over to the Conservatory tonight and catch Horse Thief open up for J Roddy Walston & The Business.
Horse Thief is made up of students from the Academy of Contemporary Music of The University of Central Oklahoma. Originally from Denton, Texas, Horse Thief then moved to OKC to attend ACM @ UCO and has since been playing around the state as well as SXSW and Norman Music Fest (Where they were unceremoniously kicked off stage by a terrible venue operator).Plus, their song Warrior is awesome!
Go see Horse Thief tonight at the Conservatory, doors open at 6 p.m. and the cover is $12.