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Oklahoma journalism
NonDoc editorial intern Blake Douglas flashes a horns down with his stepfather (an avid Longhorn) before heading to the 2019 Red River Rivalry game. (Photo provided)

My high-school football coach used to tell our team, “Life is like football, and football is like life.”

At the time, it seemed like standard coach speak to keep the guys engaged and fill the post-game silence. But I have since learned how right he was.

I’ve learned that the virtues championed by your standard, gruff ball coach are applicable to life — and journalism. Things like hustle, repetition, preparation and dedication translate wherever you go and whatever you do. Those are the attributes I’ll be bringing to NonDoc this summer as an editorial intern.

I started reporting at the OU Daily two years ago. I’ve known since my junior year in high school that I would be a journalist, reporting on the good, the bad and the ugly of Oklahoma. But still, it would’ve been easy to feel intimidated starting out in the OU newsroom. I admittedly worried about how I would stack up, where the space was to carve out my niche. 

But life is like football, I figured. Show up, work your ass off, and you’ll garner some attention. I volunteered every time I could for live events, stories up for grabs, even assignments off the news desk. Hustle got me my first meaningful experience in journalism, from chasing down Jimmy John’s cyclists in sweltering summer sun to spending far-too-many hours camped out in a frosty lobby, awaiting the selection of OU’s interim (now permanent) president.

Coach used to stress the importance of keeping hungry, never getting complacent. He talked about practicing relentless repetition every day, endlessly reaching for flawless form even though you might never achieve it.

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I strive to stay on the initiative every day, clocking in as usual after the 3 a.m. ending of a Board of Regents meeting, soldiering on for the next piece once the last is complete. Journalism is a profession that encourages relentlessness to expand the story and uncover the next angle, and the question I try to keep in mind every day is, “now what?”

The best players in football always want to play on the biggest stages. They refuse to be sidelined when the stakes are high.

In my journalism career so far, I have jumped at the opportunity to be on the front lines, and intend to keep do so during this historic time for our state, the country and the world. I’m excited to write stories about this unprecedented pandemic and to cover a slew of elections with ramifications that could last for years. 

While I have unfortunately had to cover many of Oklahoma’s shortcomings in my reporting, I really do love this place. I am proud to be an Oklahoman and to write about both our successes and our failures.

By reporting for NonDoc this summer, I want to empower Oklahomans with the knowledge they need to make meaningful civic choices and improve our state. I’ve already had the opportunity to help cover a potentially historic Supreme Court case and I look forward to seeing what else this summer has in store. I’m humbled to have the chance to do this work, honored by every reader who might be affected by the things I write, and excited to learn from NonDoc’s fantastic editors and mentors.

If life is like football, as I was told, then this is the biggest stage I’ve yet to play on — and I aim to make it count, to improve myself and my state however I can.

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Blake is a journalism junior at the University of Oklahoma, and is serving as an editorial intern for the summer of 2020. Blake has written for the OU Daily for two years, where he is now the news managing editor.