For years, OU’s Gaylord School of Journalism has been helping turn students into working journalists. More recently, the school has given a select few students the opportunity to hone their reporting skills in perhaps the most consequential news market in the country, if not the world.
As the seat of the federal government, Washington has always been a place where good reporters want to be -- and where they are needed -- and so there may be no better training ground for aspiring journalists.
Libbey Dean, a rising senior at OU, is one of them.
“I have always wanted to be a journalist,” Dean stated in an interview this week.
A native Texan, Dean’s pursuit of that goal took her, first, to Norman and then, following her acceptance into the Gaylord college’s signature immersion program, to the nation’s capital. She arrived in mid-January, just days after the insurrection.
“I spent inauguration on Black Lives Matter Plaza,” said Dean. “I think everyone was holding their breath during that moment.”
Dean is one of five students currently taking part in OU's Gaylord News in DC program.
“Politics is something I’m very passionate about,” said Becca Yanez, also a rising senior who arrived in Washington in May.
Yanez said she wants to be a political reporter, believing in the importance of informing fellow citizens about the actions of their government. She sees this opportunity as critical in her development.
“It’s important to really gain that insight, and to understand how D.C. functions,” said Yanez.
The students learn how government functions, not to mention how a camera functions, although most have already had training in electronic news gathering. What makes the immersive program so special - beyond the opportunity to live in Washington for a semester - is the chance to be out in the field where they can learn by doing.
“It’s really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn all new skills,” said Kaitlyn Deggs, who will graduate in December. “It’s helping me be a better a journalist.”
OU graduate assistant Vy Luong, an international student, lives with the students and helps them in a variety of ways – technical support, training in digital media, and as a set of eyes to check their scripts.
“I think it’s really a great chance for students just to go out in the field and practice,” Luong explained.
A member of the program's inaugural class, Oklahoma's Own Storme Jones cut his teeth on political reporting in Washington, a place where he and all the Gaylord in DC students learn there is a premium on good journalism.
“It just really shows how important our job is,” said Dean, “and makes me just love it even more.”