Senior reporter at the OU Daily, Emma Keith, crafted a feature entitled “Waiting Game” last spring in which she highlighted the difficulties students seeking mental health care at OU face when making appointments through the University Counseling Center at Goddard. Keith states that limited staffing and a tight budget cause patients wait times of up to several months to meet with a counselor.

By this point in her career at the Daily, Keith had adopted mental health as her beat as she herself deals with mental illness and is passionate about advocating for those who share in her struggle.

When she decided to join the Daily in the spring of 2016, Keith had no journalism experience whatsoever. Her first semester with the publication was in one word “terrifying”. She struggled to overcome a lack of confidence in the news room, but she persisted. Eventually, Keith found her groove, despite frustrating points. She added, “I have a great team around me and continue to try to challenge and grow myself here”. Her endurance as a journalist is commendable and a characteristic I think our class can learn from. Growth can only come from change, and not every assignment or job we get throughout our lives are going to be ideal. Honestly, most of them will not be, but learning to adapt to a situation has the potential to cultivate personal development.

Keith dealt with 2 major challenges in writing this piece. The first being that she had never written an article so long or detailed before. “Some help from great editors shaped this story into a much more compelling read”, said Keith of this uncharted territory. Asking for help and feedback in writing is so crucial, and something I personally need to get more comfortable with.

Her second trial was in representing all of her sources evenly, despite the fact that she had previously formed relationships with some of her sources through her work in covering mental health. Maintaining an unbiased outlook throughout reporting and writing is arguably one of the most difficult aspects in journalism. Keith’s uncanny ability to convey each student’s perspective on the issue while simultaneously expressing Goddard’s desire to care for their patients is a perfect example of equal representation. A journalist’s purpose is to inform and assist their community in forming opinions with as many details as possible from all angles.

In regards to the interviewing process, Keith expressed that she is normally very nervous beforehand, but she counters her apprehensions with incredible grace. “I always try to interview from a place of empathy, sincerity and sensitivity”, says Keith of her approach to covering such personal and sometimes even painful subjects. Feature Writing will require quite a few interviews throughout the semester, and Keith’s advice on talking with sources is certainly something to remember in our writing endeavors.

“Waiting Game” received very high praise after being published. In this case, Keith’s subject matter was not a particularly controversial stance. She explained that readers were engaged with her work as a result of its relatability. Something that interests you might not necessarily interest everyone else. Keeping your audience in mind is a vital component of writing. The ability to reach more than one is challenging, and something that Keith executed flawlessly.

The amount of research Keith performed for this piece is evident. Statistics and accurate, informative comparisons can enhance the credibility of a story greatly along with the use of well-known sources.

Overall, “Waiting Game” is a prime example of what every journalist should strive for in reporting and writing as seen through Keith’s unique ability to compile information in a clear, concise and engaging manner.

Link to article: http://projects.oudaily.com/mental-health-wait-times/

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