NORMAN — The modern broadcast studio tucked into the north wing of Gaylord Hall was awash in professional storytellers Friday afternoon. Broken down to our basic role in society, journalists are storytellers, Nothing more. We gathered, prompted by grads Bart Conner and Linda Cavanaugh, to reminisce and reflect on our college years and beyond.
The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the first journalism courses taught at the University of Oklahoma. Since that fall day in 1913, more than 11,000 have graduated with degrees and gone on to careers in journalism and other fields.
But no matter our job paths, all had stories to tell. One woman told of finding the courage to challenge a tough professor who awarded her a grade lower than she thought she deserved. She’s summoned that courage often in the business world.
More than a few students talked of the joy in receiving professional praise from faculty members later in their careers. A general told of receiving letters and gifts from OU journalism classmates while on the battlefield in Viet Nam. Another grad shared the story of putting a controversial headline on a story and getting the dreaded call from President George L. Cross.
Some told of breaking a big story using the training they received on the student newspaper.
There comes a time in most careers when you can honestly tell yourself you have arrived in the profession. For a doctor, it may be healing someone who has long suffered. A lawyer might win a big case or help someone achieve their business goals. For a journalist, it’s often a big story that you break and follow to the end.
For me, as a young police reporter in Oklahoma City, it was a child’s kidnapping that kept me on the front page for a week. The little girl was snatched from her yard on the city’s southeast side on a Tuesday morning.