Kayleigh Thesenvitz is not ready to throw a funeral for print journalism. As editor of The Collegian, the weekly TU student newspaper, and a senior political science major, she believes quality journalism is a staple of society. “Journalism is important for democracy. I don’t think American society could function without it,” Thesenvitz said.
The University of Tulsa offers students the chance to become familiar with several journalism and public relations mediums: TUTV, marketing/advertising, podcasts and The Collegian. Once a week, The Collegian staff meets to sift through the week’s top stories, and they have a week to produce the content. “We will help you along if you need to know how to do interview skills or how to take pictures,” she assured.
From campus news to national politics, The Collegian highlights the forces shaping the students’ environment. One of Thesenvitz’s favorite stories covered Brenda Tracy’s visit to TU. Tracy was the young woman at the center of the 1998 Oregon State University rape case. The Collegian has been a driving force for TU’s focus on preventing sexual assault on campus. Students reporting these stories not only gain experience, but also, they get a paycheck. “We pay students to write, photograph and do graphic design for us, and there is a lot of room for upward mobility,” Thesenvitz said.
Mixing political science and media studies reinforced the idea that politicians need journalists. “We talk about how the institution is equipped with checks and balances that are supposed to keep everything functioning,” she said. “The reason that those checks and balances work is because there is also good journalism making those things work and not letting corruption fester.”
Media studies also offers a class specifically on political coverage in the evolving world of politics, which was helpful when Thesenvitz interned for the Bristow News. From covering a murder trial to city hall meetings, she had free reign to follow a lead and create her own stories. “TU is really good at facilitating those first internships and helping you get those first jobs,” she said.
Journalism might not always come in traditional paper form. Online news is print journalism evolved, but Thesenvitz warned, “Citizens need to figure out how to read online resources better because fake news is a thing. We have to be more cognizant as readers of internet sources, about what is a factual source and what is not.”
The Collegian has provided Thesenvitz the opportunities to interview stage legislators, campus speakers and of course her classmates. “I like talking to people and getting to know their stories, especially people who have done something great,” she said. “That is what a lot of journalism is: meeting people and helping them tell their stories.”