I just wanted to take a moment before my internship ended this afternoon to thank everyone at the Oklahoman for their guidance this summer during my internship.
The generosity and leadership displayed by the editors and staff here allowed me to further my skills. Over the last two months, I felt I was able to contribute in significant areas in the newsroom. I appreciate your time in answering all my (many) questions or taking time to mentor an intern.
A special thank yous to my fellow interns for all their kindness and generousity over the last two months. I worked with a lot of talented, amazing individuals. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck in whatever you decide to do in journalism or outside of it.
A huge thank you goes to my mentors Don Gammill and Richard Hall for always taking time even with deadlines or multiple projects to help guide, mentor and sharing any wisdom they had to offer for this intern.
Winston Churchill had this quote I feel sums up this phase of my young journalism career. “This isn’t the end. This isn’t even the beginning of the end. However, this is the end of the beginning.”
Thank you again for everything.
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.”
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.
In preparation for this year’s Mayborn, I’ve collected several of my favorite pieces of long-form journalism. Goodness, I love that genre with all that is left of me.
You’ll find essays, narrative nonfiction, generally awesome storytelling curated here. I dig storytelling, love writing and read because, for me, it’s as optional. Like breathing. There’s a solid week’s worth of transcendent stories hyperlinked below. Please enjoy them to the fullest measure.
By Frank Deford
“Robert Victor Sullivan, whom you’ve surely never heard of, was the toughest coach of them all. He was so tough he had to have two tough nicknames, Bull and Cyclone, and his name was usually recorded this way: coach Bob ‘Bull’ ‘Cyclone’ Sullivan or coach Bob (Bull) (Cyclone) Sullivan. Also, at times he was known as Big Bob or Shotgun. He was the most unique of men, and yet he remains utterly representative of a time that has vanished, from the gridiron and from these United States.”
By Chris Jones
“For the 281st time in the last ten months Roger Ebert is sitting down to watch a movie in the Lake Street Screening Room, on the sixteenth floor of what used to pass for a skyscraper in the Loop. Ebert’s been coming to it for nearly thirty years, along with the rest of Chicago’s increasingly venerable collection of movie critics. More than a dozen of them are here this afternoon, sitting together in the dark. Some of them look as though they plan on camping out, with their coats, blankets, lunches, and laptops spread out on the seats around them.”
By Chuck Phillips
“My name is Chuck Philips. I spent the last ten years of my professional life at the Los Angeles Times investigating the murders of the world’s most important rap artists: Tupac Shakur, and his nemesis, Biggie Smalls. My reporting kept bringing me back to a brutal 1994 ambush at Manhattan’s Quad Recording Studios — a pivotal moment in hip-hop history, a portent of violence to come: a bloody, bicoastal battle that would culminate in the killings of both Pac and Biggie.”
By Jon Day
“On his last day of work as a bicycle messenger, my brother organized a race. Messenger races, known as alleycats, usually consist of straightforward if anarchic runs across the city. A raggle-taggle peloton will gather at some anonymous starting point, then commence on a mad dash from checkpoint to checkpoint, a wave of rubber and steel crashing through the streets. But my brother’s race was different: an urban steeplechase with a fox-hunt theme. He strapped a huge bottle to his back containing a few gallons of paint, with a pipe running down the bike frame that terminated in a small tap. He attached a fox’s tail to one of his belt loops. At the start of the race he opened the tap; the paint started to flow as he pedaled off into the traffic, a line of white glistening on the tarmac in his wake. After a few minutes I released the racers, a pack of bicycle-hounds. With a blast of horns, the race was on.”
Tampa Bay Times
By Ben Montgomery
“Allie Mae Neal pushed through the screen door and found a shady spot on her porch where the summer sun didn’t bite. Kittens purred at her feet and wasps flitted in and out of holes in the roof. The few neighbors who passed by saw an old woman in a wheelchair, blue eyes lazy and unfocused behind thick glasses. She’d wave and they’d wave back. Black or white. She has never held a grudge.”
By Thomas Lake
“The most infamous roster decision in high school basketball history came down 33 years ago on the edge of tobacco country, between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, in an old town full of white wooden rocking chairs. The decision took physical form in two handwritten lists on a gymnasium door, simultaneously beautiful for the names they carried and crushing for the names they did not. A parade of fragile teenage boys passed by, stopping to read the lists, studying them like inscriptions in stone. Imagine these boys in the time of their sorting, their personal value distilled to a binary question, yes or no, and they breathe deeply, unseen storms gathering behind their ribs, below their hearts, in the hollows of fear and exhilaration.”
By Brian Phillips
“On December 10, 1810, in a muddy field around 25 miles from London, a fight took place that was so dramatic, controversial, and ferocious that it continues to haunt the imagination of boxing more than 200 years later. One of the fighters was the greatest champion of his age, a bareknuckle boxer so tough he reportedly trained by punching the bark off trees. The other was a freed slave, an illiterate African-American who had made the voyage across the Atlantic to seek glory in the ring. Rumors about the match had circulated for weeks, transfixing England. Thousands of fans braved a pounding rain to watch the bout. Some of the first professional sportswriters were on hand to record it.”
By Wright Thompson
“Jay Paterno parked his minivan on the side of Porter Road, looking at the solemn crowd gathered around the statue of his dad. It was Tuesday night, and a shrine had been forming near Joe’s feet for days. Someone left a war medal. There were dozens of flower arrangements, 30-year-old seat cushions and a houndstooth cap. For a moment, he took in the scene: the bronze statue, the flickering tea candles, the bright lights of the football stadium kept lit in memory since Joe Paterno died.”
By Dave Sheinin
“The first thing you do is, you go over and grab one of those iron rods — rebar, it’s called — from the pile. It may weigh 50 pounds, maybe 80, maybe more. You throw it over your shoulder and hump it over to your crew. If it’s 115 degrees in Vegas that day, it’s probably 135 in the hole where you’re laboring, clad in heavy work clothes, building the foundation of another casino, feeding the great beast of the desert. You lay the rebar down just so, tie its ends with 16-gauge wire, and now it’s ready to be encased in concrete, one more grain of rice down the beast’s gullet. They say Las Vegas is a town of phoniness and illusion. Fake pyramids. Fake Manhattan skylines. Fake Eiffel towers. But Ron Harper, for 27 years a union card-holder in Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 416 — a “rodbuster,” as they call themselves — can tell you one thing: For every gaudy, phony facade in this Godforsaken town, a couple hundred men, some of them his men, bent their backs to send it up into the sky. Watch him get one of those monthly shots in his neck to ease his pain, and then tell him everything in Vegas is fake.”
By Wesley Morris
“It couldn’t have just been you or me or the Magic. It had to be the Heat. Not simply because the Heat play in Miami, the home of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in late February after leaving a 7-Eleven, in Sanford, Florida, with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Not simply because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade understand the meaning of statement clothes. But because, suddenly, the Heat understand the power of statements. A team whose dominance in the last two seasons stems from one of the tackiest, most egotistical events in the history of sports media had now devised one of the classiest, most egoless.”
The New Yorker
By Malcolm Gladwell
“Five years ago, several executives at McKinsey & Company, America’s largest and most prestigious management-consulting firm, launched what they called the War for Talent. Thousands of questionnaires were sent to managers across the country. Eighteen companies were singled out for special attention, and the consultants spent up to three days at each firm, interviewing everyone from the C.E.O. down to the human-resources staff. McKinsey wanted to document how the top-performing companies in America differed from other firms in the way they handle matters like hiring and promotion. But, as the consultants sifted through the piles of reports and questionnaires and interview transcripts, they grew convinced that the difference between winners and losers was more profound than they had realized. “We looked at one another and suddenly the light bulb blinked on,” the three consultants who headed the project–Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod–write in their new book, also called “The War for Talent.” The very best companies, they concluded, had leaders who were obsessed with the talent issue. They recruited ceaselessly, finding and hiring as many top performers as possible. They singled out and segregated their stars, rewarding them disproportionately, and pushing them into ever more senior positions. “Bet on the natural athletes, the ones with the strongest intrinsic skills,” the authors approvingly quote one senior General Electric executive as saying. “Don’t be afraid to promote stars without specifically relevant experience, seemingly over their heads.” Success in the modern economy, according to Michaels, Handfield-Jones, and Axelrod, requires “the talent mind-set”: the “deep-seated belief that having better talent at all levels is how you outperform your competitors.”
By Spencer Hall
“Dan Mullen sits at his computer, surrounded by the habitat of an SEC head coach: wraparound desk, computers, phones, and bric-a-brac emblazoned with school iconography. Bulldogs pop out from every corner of his office. Balls from the past three Egg Bowls and the 52-14 nullification of Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl sit encased in glass. A Diet Coke is open on the table.”
By Chris Ballard
“When the first police car erupted in flames in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday, June 15, not long before the first pylon crashed through a department store window and shortly after the first bloody brawl broke out, photographer Rich Lam was perched above the ice of Rogers Arena, firing off as many as six frames a second during the third period of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. At the same time, mechanical engineer Josh Evans, wearing a Canucks jersey, was sipping a vodka and water at a packed sports bar a mile from the stadium; Vancouver police inspector Steve Rai was racing to don riot gear downtown as rocks whizzed through the air; Australian barista Scott Jones and his girlfriend, Alex Thomas, were preparing to leave a friend’s apartment to check out the commotion; sociology professor Robert Carrothers was at home in northern Ohio, calling up TV feeds on the internet; and Bruins winger Milan Lucic was on the bench during a penalty kill, trying to control his breathing.”
It’s a crime against humanity to sit on wisdom. There are too many of us who want that knowledge — who need that knowledge. We’re all students, even those of us who are called teachers, presidents, revered leaders.
Many won’t read this post. Some won’t read it, because, in the ocean of ephemera and vitriol that is the Internet, this message — this clear coke bottle straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel — will never find them. Sad panda.
But there are a precious few of you who will read this wisdom culled from men and women who are smarter than I — more on this later — that will feel as I did when I first heard it spoken.
Maybe one of you is a Power That Be, and you have no need of New Age Confucianism. Or, and this is likelier, you’re just a guy or gal trying to make good, trying to get better, working day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute to fulfill a dream. To the latter, that’s where I live, too. I love you. I respect you. Keep busting hump.
Here’s that wisdom:
Listen more than you talk
Have no sense of entitlement
You have to fail to succeed
You have one chance to make a good impression
Storytelling will win the day
Great conversations will win the day
You have to be the exception to the rule
Don’t forsake the things you do well
Dress like you want people to take you seriously
Use Twitter as a news feed
Always say yes
If you lack passion for it, you’ll never be great at it
Read, write, edit. Read, write, edit. Read, write, edit.
You’re either the steamroller or the pavement
Question: Where did I receive these sacrosanct sound bites? Answer: The Sports Journalism Institute, where the following folks dropped intellect profound:
(In no particular order)
John A. Walsh
Executive Vice President and Executive Editor at ESPN
News Editor at ESPN
Executive Editor at ESPNewYork.com
Senior Assistant Sports Editor at Boston Globe
Sports Columnist at St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dan Le Batard
Miami Herald Sports Columnist and ESPN TVand radio personality
Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State University
Oklahoma City Thunder beat writer at The Oklahoman
Media Columnist at Sports Illustrated
Director of Community Outreach at Columbia Missourian and Associate Professor at the University of Missouri
Stephen A. Smith
ESPN.com Columnist and TV personality
Vice President and Executive Producer at MLB.com
Vice President and Executive Editor at MLB.com
Sports Editor at Columbia Missourian and Associate Professor at the University of Missouri
ESPN.com Big 12 blogger
A Managing Editor at the Salt Lake Tribune and President of the Associated Press Sports Editors
Staggering list, right? Well, it staggered the heck out of me. Now, don’t waste what they gave us for free. If you do, there WILL BE CONSEQUENCES. I’ll … I’ll do something. I don’t know what that something is, but it will be BAD — very, very BAD. (OK, I won’t really do anything. But you should — act on their wisdom.)
Peace and soul,
Hey intern Bryce here coming to you from The Oklahoman newsroom. Today is a special day. A day to be happier than usual. A day to look your best. Today is Tie Tuesday. It is a personal holiday I am celebrating this summer to make an otherwise forgettable day of the week a day to look forward to. Many men in the office sport a tie daily to work, but I do not, thus creating the special occasion on Tuesday. If my fellow interns laugh a little more, are a little less stressed, or smile just a few more times than Tie Tuesday has done its job.
On this inaugural Tie Tuesday I found some headline gold throughout the day on NewsOK. This headline caught my eye this afternoon: Women arrested after former Beach Bums Bikini Bar boss is stabbed. That led to this riveting tale: http://newsok.com/women-arrested-after-former-beach-bums-bikini-bar-boss-is-stabbed/article/3685785. You can’t make this stuff up and I applaud the use of alliteration by the owner of Beach Bums Bikini Bar. He obviously knew that would look good in a headline someday. Second headline that blew my mind: Teen recovering after spear removed from his brain. Here is a picture of said spear in brain.
There was also a prostitution bust that took down 11 people. Not a great headline here, but within the story are a series of mug shots. Sometimes those can be better than the story : http://newsok.com/11-arrested-in-oklahoma-city-prostitution-sting/article/3685822.
The first Tie Tuesday is in the books and people have remarked that I look a little more happy today. We will let you be the judge of that.
I encourage everyone to find their own Tie Tuesday that helps them through a sometimes monotonous work week!
After a few weeks of work I decided it’s about time I get to blogging about who I am and my experiences here in OKC.
First, I’ll begin by introducing myself; my name is Andrea Giacalone. Yes, complicated I know. It does not sound at all like it looks, phonetically… jackaloney, like, rhymes with macaroni. Hope that little lesson helped!
I recently just graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Journalism Graphics and am an intern in the Art Department here at The Oklahoman. It’s been an exciting time since I packed up my bags and moved to Oklahoma City!
I moved in with a wonderful young lady, Lauren; she sings and is very talented (check her out at laurenraquelmusic.com).
I have been able to travel to Tulsa, Fort Worth, Wichita, and back home to Kansas City.
I have spent a lot of time exploring Bricktown and the surrounding areas of OKC. It’s been such a fun time to be here with the Thunder doing so well in the Playoffs – EVERYTHING revolves around the Thunder right now, including the inside of our office and the Thunder donuts from Krispy Cream.
My favorite place to spend time at in OKC is Myriad Gardens; I LOVE this place! On Sunday nights I have attended the Twilight Concert Series. I would highly recommend this, the atmosphere and music makes for a great time!
Equally awesome was meeting James Marsden when some of the interns and I went to see a film during the deadCENTER Film Festival.
Knowing that I’m leaving in a month and a half is crazy; time is already flying, but for now, I’m reminding myself daily that I must take every opportunity to make the most out of my very remarkable life and I hope you enjoy following along while I’m here in OKC.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Here’s the thing: The NBA Finals don’t happen in places like Oklahoma City.
It happens in cities and states home to more than one major professional sports franchise. It happens in places where Bud Wilkinson is some guy from Minnesota.
It happens in sexier cities, more exotic cities — cities where public transportation is the most efficient way to travel. It happens in places where you don’t have to catch a connecting flight into the city.
It happens in cities where the ocean is within driving distance and pleasant folks will sell you directions to your favorite celebrity’s house. It happens in cities where folks brag about how hard, how hardened, the city has made them.
That’s why this series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat is bigger than any national championship any college in Oklahoma could win.
Swords were dropped — and have remained so — when the Thunder began its playoff run. Cowboy orange, Sooner crimson and Tulsa Hurricane royal blue have all been forsaken for Thunder light blue.
Oklahomans are a part of something they’ll be proud to talk about, to remember in the years and decades to come. But even then, folks will probably have a hard time explaining to loved ones how crazy and exciting it has been and will be. After all, empathy is learned — not conveyed.
Oklahoma has arrived at the party. Have fun dancing with her.
I know there’s always something to be gained with every story. You learn a little something about yourself or about humanity, or just about how to be a better reporter.
On Friday, I experienced a lot of these things. My assignment was to write about an annual event called Endeavor Games. It’s an opportunity for people with physical disabilities to enjoy athletic activities, with a little bit of competition mixed in.
Most of the people there were teenagers and veterans with amputations. They each had a great story to share, I’m sure. But that day, I happened to speak with two men who wanted to spread the word that it’s OK to live with disabilities. And I talked to a 13-year-old whose legs were paralyzed when he was born. On that particular day, his basketball shorts hid what was missing underneath.
I should also say that during the event, I mistook a little girl as a paraplegic (a person who is paralyzed from the waist down). She was rolling around in a wheelchair made for the basketball court, and she seemed to look longingly at the basket as she took shallow shots toward the basket. When I went to talk with the girl, her mom told me, “You know, she’s not disabled?” Nope – I didn’t know that. I had come across other people that day who seemed to have such mild symptoms of disability that you almost couldn’t tell.
So instead, I talked to the woman’s friend, a man who uses a wheelchair and advocates for people to get up and keep going. He was great to talk with, and he said he was thankful for the games. That’s where he met a recruiter who convinced him to enroll in a local college and to take up adaptive sports.
I left the event with a notebook full of stories about overcoming obstacles. Then I got to the office, and I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t want to misrepresent these people by writing a cheesy story. Heck, I already thought an able-bodied kid was disabled.
Thinking back, she was just doing it because her mom was such a supporter for people with disabilities, and the little girl had grown up with people around her in that condition. It just wasn’t a big deal to her.
That was the message that needed to be conveyed in the story: People overcome these obstacles by helping each other cope.
Eventually, I came to that conclusion. It just took longer than I expected to put it into words. My lesson, just like theirs, is to get back up and keep going.
With a full business week under my belt I have some experiences to share. Breaking news can be really fun or basically nonexistent.
One of the things I learned this week was how to go t0 the Oklahoma City police stations and pick out police reports to cover. When I was told I would be going to the police station I assumed it would be a lot like the DMV except with weapons and handcuffs. I assumed every question would be met with eye rolls and loud exasperated sighs. I was wrong. The public information officers were usually happy to help and it gave me a chance to fraternize with people from other media outlets and remind myself why I’m not going into broadcast.
Looking through a stack of reports may sound mind-numbingly boring, but it is the gems in there that make it all worth it. In that stack I found a story about a man who shot himself while driving high with a child in the car. There was also a report of a woman who stole not one, but two vibrators from Spencer’s. The stupidity of some people never ceases to amaze me.
**Sidenote: later that week I had to take a call from the grandma of the man who shot himself. She wanted to know where I got some of my information because she was convinced she would know if her grandson was in a gang. After all, who doesn’t tell their granny if they made it into the bloods or the crips?
Some times things take a turn for the worse…
I had to talk to the mother of a dead 16-year-old girl mere hours after she found out her daughter was murdered for apparently no reason. This woman was so distraught and sad she could barely hold herself together and her words were frequently broken up by sobs. I can’t put into words how awful that felt and I think that’s the one thing that won’t get easier with practice.
To end on a lightearted note, it’s been a good first week. All of the death and destruction hopefully won’t stop me from walking into work like Joseph Gordon-Levitt from “500 Days of Summer.”