While working on several stories this summer, I have had to pause and ask myself:
- What are my intentions in writing this story?
- Am I emotionally invested in this story?
- If so, is it hindering my storytelling?
- How can I tell this story the most objectively?
One such instance was while working on a veterans and PTSD project with health reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove and fellow intern Darryl Golden. We took an entire work day to travel to James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena, where we interviewed incarcerated veterans about their mental health and experiences returning home from war.
I’m not going to lie. I was a little apprehensive about visiting the prison. I knew it would be a great experience and would expand my comfort zone as a reporter, but being in a room with 50 inmates who had committed violent crimes put me a little on edge. After sitting through the center’s veterans club meeting, I easily saw that the veterans were ordinary people, but had made poor life choices. They had experienced the horrors of war, they felt sorry for the crimes they committed and they missed their families. By the end of our interviews, I had forgotten that we were talking to inmates at a prison.
My part of the project was to write a story about a flag afghan project the veterans club started in 2007. The veterans crochet flag afghans for other veterans and families of fallen service members. I wanted my story to embody the caring nature of the veterans, which I had experienced during my visit. I had heard about their troubles and wanted to present their project in the best light possible. After I finished writing the story, I realized I never mentioned why the men were in prison. Without even thinking, I left out their charges. It was as if I was empathizing with the veterans. I saw that they were truly sorry for the crimes they committed and didn’t want the horrible nature of the crimes, many of them murder, to taint the story.I spoke with Jaclyn about including the charges and she said that they had to be in the story. Deep down, I knew they needed to be included. Like it or not, these veterans committed crimes and that’s why they’re in prison. I included the charges and I think the final product has a sense of compassion, but one that is fair and unbiased. The story explains that these veterans have committed horrible crimes and now they’re serving time and comforting others in need.
This summer, I’ve learned that sometimes as a reporter, I’m going to feel for sources, situations and issues. It’s my duty to find the middle ground. Compassion can exist in journalism.
Nicholas Kristof is a prime example of a journalist who shows compassion through his work. Read or listen to Krista Tippett’s interview with Kristof as he talks about compassion and journalism on Tippett’s show On Being.
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.
email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com — firstname.lastname@example.org — email@example.com
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.
Before I ever dreamed about going back to college to pursue a degree in journalism, I worked in hospitality and food management for several years in New York City. From 2004 to 2006, one of those stops included working as a general manager for a popcorn company in the heart of Times Square and on the upper west side of Manhattan.
That company is called “Popcorn Indiana”. Today, Popcorn Indiana can be found in a variety of grocery and drug stores. The company is known for two things: its signature chocolate caramel gourmet popcorn and that legendary former NBA point-guard, former Knicks general manager — and anti-Sam Presti — Isiah Thomas owns a stake in the company.
Working in the heart of Times Square, you witness a lot of shenanigans on a day-in-day-out basis. If I shared a lot of these stories with NewsOK intern blog readers, you would never want to eat at any sort of quick-service food establishment again and I could possibly be sued for libel.
The only story I can share is that I was forced out of my office on my birthday by Barbara Walters’ assistant so the famous TV personality could change her outfit.
Barbara Walters’ father was having a street named for him on 48th and Broadway that day. I was in my office, talking to a co-worker about her stint working in the marketing department for Marvel Comics, when the door swung open. A woman with glasses exclaimed, “You need need to leave now!”
“Excuse me?” I said.
Then, in walked Walters.
A non-printable word followed by “It’s Barbara Walters!” fumbled out of my mouth to my co-worker in a state of shock over the absurdity taking place.
I was telling a few of these lurid tales to my fellow intern, Conner Rohwer, and my boss Communities Editor Don Gammill. Both of them in their own way suggested I write a blog about the things I learned in the restaurant industry in New York City, which apply to what I have learned in journalism.
Teamwork is essential. It takes more than one person to run a restaraunt and it takes more than one person to put together a newspaper.
You had better be willing to put in a lot of hard work, long hours and effort to get noticed. Both fields don’t necessarily pay a lot of money, so you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. It shows when you’re not.
Never sit around on your laurels. Always try to be pro-active or find work if you’re not busy.
Be tough on your own personal standards, but easy on people. Both industries are a people-driven.
Even when you’re driven from your own office.
So the title is a reference to Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy and if you haven’t watched it you’re missing out. Okay so the title is funny but the post itself is serious… seriously.
This Tuesday I was having dinner with a couple of friends, both of which have career aspirations within the medical field. One of them mentioned how emotionally draining the medical field is. Many of the stories she shared confirmed that. But I also realized how emotionally draining journalism is as well.
Some of the stories we cover every day take us on an emotional roller coaster. You can be happy, bewildered, scared or sad. For some reason I have the hardest time dealing with happy and sad. Sometimes when I do a feature over someone with a positive or happy story, I’m overcome by the character they’ve shown throughout their life or the struggles they had to overcome. I always feel so grateful to have met them.
The first time I experienced such strong emotion was when I covered the opening of the National WASP World War II Museum in my hometown of Sweetwater, Texas, a museum dedicated to Women Airforce Service Pilots. My hometown was where their training base was located. They were trailblazing patriots who paved the way for all women to be treated equally and to be able to serve their country. I cried on the way home after the ceremony; I was just so moved by their stories.
The latest incident of emotional news coverage happened last Friday. I interviewed the woman who helped make Oklahoma the first state with a pancreatic cancer awareness license plate. The tag will be released in November and $20 out of the tags $35 price will go towards pancreatic cancer research. The disease has grim statistics like – for every 425 patients diagnosed in Oklahoma this year with pancreatic cancer, 400 will die within one year from the disease. King chose to support this disease because her twin sister Connie died from it in 2008. Throughout the entire interview King kept it together except once when she spoke of life without her best friend.
“To be able to do this in her memory means a lot,” King said with a shaky voice. Then tears filled her eyes as she went on. “The first year was very difficult and I’ve gotten better. I’m past my grief but I still have my days.”
My eyes got a little teary but I held it together until I got in my car after the interview. I have a twin sister who just happened to be born three years late. We often say the same thing at the exact same time, wear the same thing though we live 10 hours apart and sometimes I’ll have strange emotions throughout the day that make no sense and it turns out she had a bad day. She was all I kept thinking of while I cried, but it was difficult forcing myself away from those thoughts during the interview. Even now while writing it, I have a lump in my throat.
I love this career but it is tough in so many ways. A professor once said that your Weltanshauung – German for world view, philosophy, ideology – is what makes you unique and a good journalist. But you’re a great journalist when you can remove yourself from your weltanshauung and just report.