One of the great joys of editing is getting a chance to welcome new journalists into a newsroom. They bring fresh perspectives and new ideas that always make us better in the long run.
That’s why it’s my pleasure to announce the Reno Gazette Journal welcomed two new reporters to its ranks on Sept. 14: Terell Wilkins and Kristin Oh.
Both are joining our newsroom as public safety reporters who will help us cover everything from wildfires to crime and justice issues in Northern Nevada and much more.
So who are they?
Wilkins comes to Reno after working for two years as a reporter for The Spectrum, the newspaper that serves St. George, Utah. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and originally hails from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Oh is a Colorado Springs native and a recent graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder where she studied journalism and media production. She worked as an editor for her school’s newspaper and produced a podcast on Asian American culture.
I asked Wilkins and Oh a few questions about why they got into journalism and what they hope to accomplish at the Reno Gazette Journal.
What got you interested in journalism?
Oh: I love journalism for many different reasons — desire to make a difference, love of serving my community and wanting to talk with all sorts of people. But it all started with my love of reading and writing as a child. People have always told me that I should love what I do for work, so journalism seemed like the most logical choice.
Wilkins: I initially wanted to be an athlete of some sort because I had such a strong passion for sports growing up, but once I realized I would never be taller than 6 feet I had to readjust my expectations. I remember getting almost a perfect grade in the writing standardized test I took at the end of my third grade school year — around the 99th percentile or something — and noting how much I actually enjoyed writing. I switched my major halfway through college from sports journalism to mass communication and media studies for a broader chance at breaking into the journalistic field. Now I’m here! It’s my field and something I really feel like I’ve been destined to do for a while now.
What is your favorite story you’ve covered so far and why?
Oh: My favorite story is when I covered the Women’s March in Denver as a young reporter for my college newspaper. I interviewed at least a dozen people, and after each interview they thanked me for listening to their story. This was the moment when I realized that the work that I do matters, and encouraged me to continue on this career path. I was working on a multimedia story with my peers which was a lot of fun. At the end of the day, the Women’s March was more than just about gender equality. It was also about people fighting against oppression and having their voices heard, and I felt very honored to be a part of it.
Wilkins: A story I wrote about a 92-year-old drummer named Bobby Morris was definitely one of the most emotionally rewarding. Morris was a drummer who performed in bands for the likes of Elvis and Frank Sinatra, ate breakfasts with Ronald Reagan and had John F. Kennedy tell him to “just call me Jack”. He had famed mob boss Sam Giancana attend his wedding. But more than all of the great stories I got to hear in the hours of interviewing him for the story, the joy you could hear in his voice telling those stories was heartwarming.
What do you believe is the most important skill a reporter should have?
Oh: Empathy, because if you don’t understand how people feel, then you won’t be able to communicate with them. My goal as a journalist is to uplift underrepresented communities and and share interesting stories. You can’t do that if you can’t connect with people.
Wilkins: I think the best skill is just flexibility. Life is all about being malleable in various situations and I think a journalist who can do numerous things well has more inherent value than one who can do a specific thing very well. That flexibility isn’t just as it comes to writing either, it means emotional flexibility in readjusting work expectations and things like that. If you can move on the fly, there’s probably always a place for you in modern reporting and I pride myself on trying to become that.
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Oh: No, a hot dog is a hot dog.
Wilkins: This might be a cop-out answer but hot dogs are their own food category to me. It’s like how pizza isn’t a sandwich or pasta or something, it’s just… pizza. That’s what I think hot dogs are. Just hot dogs!
Brian Duggan is the executive editor of the Reno Gazette Journal. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.