The Talon staff sat down with Keaton Ross, an Oklahoma Christian University junior and Editor-in-Chief of the Talon for the 2019-2020 school year, to discuss his love of journalism and the future of the campus newspaper.
Q. Why did you first decide to start writing for the Talon?
“I came to OC as a freshman, and I knew I wanted to be some kind of a comm major. I didn’t know if that was going to be PR or journalism or what. I was thinking about it. I took Writing Across Media, and I liked that. Journalism is where my heart lies. Even if it doesn’t pay the best or have the best hours, it’s where my work can make the most difference. Both my parents are journalists, and I got to experience their work when I was a kid. So I decided to come on the Talon, and it was great.”
Q. What is something unique you bring to the Talon?
“Journalism-wise, I feel like I have a decent nose for a good story and what the student body is interested in and what we need to be reporting. Personality-wise, I feel like I’m a decent listener, so I can listen to everyone’s long stories and sometimes give advice.”
Q. What are some of your goals for the paper next year?
“Obviously, I want us to increase our readership. I feel like we’ve done a great job this year putting out more stories than we ever have before, getting that content out there. I think the next step is to find ways to engage the OC community more. I think social media is huge for us. Everyone I’ve talked to says they don’t just go to talon.news, they click on a story they see on Twitter or Instagram. I think we also need to put ourselves out there more as personalities on the Talon, so people know us not as just bylines, but as people. I’m looking forward to putting that in place.”
Q. What changes do you want to implement for the Talon as Editor-in-Chief next year?
“More social media and user engagement. I’d like us to find a way to implement video somehow. I know the Oklahoman is doing it; the OU Daily is doing it. Even if it’s just a recap of our stories from the week, I feel like if we put that on Twitter or Facebook, people would watch those videos and be interested and go read our stuff. I think it would help increase our readership.”
Q. How do you plan to deal with the administration when the Talon breaks important but uncomfortable stories?
“Obviously, we don’t want to be enemies to the administration. We want to have a good relationship with them. I know we’ve had folks from the administration come in for Quick Questions; we’ve had interviews with them. When there’s a big story breaking, like the class size stuff or the Hardeman name change or anything controversial, we always want to reach out to them and give them a chance to speak for themselves, whether it’s an interview or just a statement. But at the same time, we can’t be there to spread the administration’s message. We’re not working for them; we’re working for the student body. We have to be brave and report on what’s happening, even if they don’t cooperate. But we should always give the chance to give their side of the story.”
Q. How have you seen the Talon change in the years since you have been on staff?
“First of all, there’s a lot more guys. When I got here, it was just me and Cale. Now we’re about half guys now, so that’s kind of wild. Besides that, I feel like our newsroom vibe is pretty good. Not that it wasn’t bad when I first got here, but it feels like all of us are friends to a certain degree, and we get along. The work that we’re putting out, I feel like a lot of it is relevant to students and interesting, and that’s why we’ve been able to get more recognition on campus and get more readers. That’s been great.”
Q. What has been your favorite part so far of working on the Talon?
“Seeing the impact that my stories have. You think, ‘Oh, it’s just the Talon. People aren’t reading you. It doesn’t matter.’ But you see people commenting on social media, or you see it getting shared and having an impact. It’s a positive influence on the community that if you didn’t put your work and energy into, it wouldn’t have happened. That’s been the best part, knowing that sometimes my work makes a difference.”
Q. Why would you encourage Oklahoma Christian students to join the Talon?
“It’s a great way to get involved on campus. Writing skills. You go into any job, if you know how to write, you’re going to have a leg up on somebody. Most of these people aren’t going into newspaper journalism, but the fact that you know how to write and even how to send a good email, that will give you a leg up on your competition when you’re getting into the workforce. We have a good community here. If you looking for friends or just a place to belong on campus, the Talon can be that, for sure.”
Q. If students want to get involved with the Talon next fall, how should they go about it?
“Sign up for the one-hour newspaper workshop credit. Anybody can do it. We’ll teach you how to write, edit, all that. If you have any questions, you can email me. My email is email@example.com. We’ll give you the rundown of exactly what we do, what will be expected of you, and why it would be a good decision for you to join us.”