Student Journalists Gain Valuable Experience at State of the State Address

February 12, 2016

Students from OBU attended Oklahoma’s largest annual political event, the governor’s State of the State address, at the state capitol in Oklahoma City Feb. 1. The students represented “The Bison,” OBU’s student newspaper, and News 30, OBU’s student produced TV news program. The students reported side by side with professional media from all across Oklahoma. The State of the State is just one of many occasions throughout the year that OBU’s student journalists gain real hands-on experience covering news.

For students Alyssa Sperrazza and Hunter Zuel, it was their first time reporting on the State of the State. Guided by Stephen Draper, instructor of broadcast journalism and mass communication, the students were given equal opportunity with professional media outlets. OBU has twice now been the only university with its student journalists present in the press box during the Governor’s address.

Learning on the field, the pair of students gained practical insights from an experience beyond the classroom. Zuel stood shoulder to shoulder with photojournalists from across Oklahoma. As he honed his skills, experienced photographers shared stories and advice with him during down time. Sperrazza discussed politics and news with seasoned reporters while listening to the governor’s speech. She also had the opportunity to go to the house floor and photograph the governor’s entrance.

“Getting to go to the State Capitol for the State of the State address was an amazing opportunity,” Sperrazza said. “No matter how many times I get to go to the Capitol, the excitement never wears off. Getting to hear Governor Fallin discuss her budget, and seeing how the whole process works from in the press box and house floor was really neat.”

Within the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, OBU’s News and Information program engages student journalists both in the classroom and through its student publications. In coursework, students are challenged to report on real stories across print, TV and web. From their first semester, students can participate in the award-winning journalism outlets of “The Bison” and News 30. This early access is a highlight for many of the aspiring journalists, including Sperrazza.

“The news and information program at OBU has been full of opportunities even at the beginning of my freshman year,” she said. “As a sophomore, I've already had experience doing things I never thought I would.”

From the start of their journey at OBU, student journalists are immersed in writing and reporting news. Given the chance to work with News 30 and “The Bison” from their first semester gives students four years to build their professional portfolios. Whether photographing political events or reporting on local crime, OBU’s student journalists are preparing themselves for an exciting career in news.