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.
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.
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 know it was sad to see the Thunder lose tonight. But for me, the evening was important for another reason.
I met a former Oklahoman reporter who now works with a government organization that encourages people to quit smoking.
I learned from our conversation that goals in life will change, and you should define yourself by what you love and maybe not what you do from day to day.
She is a great writer. She knew she wanted to be a writer in 5th grade. After college, she joined the Associated Press, and she was a state desk reporter at the Oklahoman until just two years ago. That was right after her son was born, and she decided to take another job so she could spend more time with her family.
We talked about professors and the journalism program at Ball State, where we both graduated. We talked about why the Oklahoman has such a great internship program – because they take time to teach and encourage people who are spending the summer there.
And we talked about how Southern Indiana girls find their way to Oklahoma. She never thought she would stay here, but then she fell in love with the city and with the man who would become her husband. And I smiled, sitting across from her at the table, eating cotton candy and thinking about how things work out.
She said she misses the newsroom and the adrenaline rush of writing on deadline. But she’ll always be a writer. And I might be that way, too. I’ll be passionate about news but also about my future family. For now, I’m just thankful to be here.
When President Obama first took office I remember reading about a tradition he and his family had. They would sit together at the end of each day and select the rose and thorn or high and low of each day. I’m sure plenty of families do this but that was my first time hearing about this practice. Since it’s my last day I’m going to go share the rose and thorn of my internship experience.
Rose: Finally finishing my amusement park story.
I received the assignment my first day here but it took until nearly my last week before I saw it published. It was a new experience to write a story that combined history (and a LOT of it) and personal stories. It took a long time to get it right but once I saw the story, both it’s print and online version (shown below), all the hard work felt worth it.
To read Thrills gone by – Amusement parks in Oklahoma click here.
Rose (because sometimes they have two buds): Getting to meet all the wonderful people at The Oklahoman & having my first print newsroom experience.
Everyone was so nice and helpful. It was just great to be able to spend my summer with such a well respected company and learn from everyone. (Oh no I’m getting all sentimental.)
Thorn: Getting in the groove of things with one week left.
I did freelance work for a hometown paper and my school paper but I never spent much time in the newsroom. I spent quite a while feeling like a fish out of water and really only began to get in the groove last week. This last thing on my list reminds me of a wonderful 80s movie quote, so I’ll end with that.