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A letter from the Director: A year of change

April 24, 2017 2:11 pm by: Category: Editorial Comments Off on A letter from the Director: A year of change A+ / A-

A year of transition – a year of change, and ultimately progress and championship level performance – the Oracle gained new leadership, a new look and a new feel.  Many great stories were told and awards recognizing the Oracle and staff were numerous and well deserved. It was a year of victory and overcoming, and of learning political reporting firsthand.
This year’s Oracle staff had the opportunity to report on and analyze the most publicized, controversial and surprising political party primaries and presidential election in American history. Oracle staff writers met the challenge by writing some of the best political commentary and analysis in Tulsa – individuals not part of ORU were telling me that ours was the best election coverage around. Any one of the election cycle articles could have run in national press – the quality was that professional.
The Holy Spirit’s presence and hearing God was well evidenced in an award-winning column by Rachel Anderson on the topic of purity. A poignant article about the ORU Honor Code and the challenges presented by living in accordance with its principles was chronicled in an interview narrative with a student was authored by Raegan Dougharty. Reporting like this speaks to real issues affecting students and the means they have used to overcome and gain victory over difficult circumstances. There were many similar pieces – too many to mention here – all worthy of praise for writing revealing and meaningful prose of the era in which we live.
It was not all serious – we won awards for cartoons by Jesse Turner and Quentin Harrup, and a whimsical, attractive layout for the “get out and vote” issue by Tabitha Levi, who, in conjunction with the design team for the Oracle, redesigned the entire publication from branding to layout and everything in between.
Social issues and breaking news were well covered by the Oracle, in articles such as Russell Dorsey’s insightful editorial commentary about the Tulsa police shooting of Terrance Crutcher. Dorsey outlined for Oracle readers what a Christian response to these kinds of tragedies should look like and feel like. Dorsey, who is also the Oracle Sports Editor, graduates this year. He will be reporting on the Cubs and other Chicago sports teams.
Another senior, Alyssa LaCourse, took over mid-year as Editor-in-Chief as replacement for our beloved and quirky Jadyn Watson-Fisher who migrated over to the University of Oklahoma’s journalism program. LaCourse has steered the Oracle ship very professionally and creatively toward the award winning publication it is today. LaCourse writes an excellent, thoughtful editorial every issue, touching on a wide range of relevant issues. She will be missed as she spreads her wings upon graduation and takes off as a literary editor in New York, or perhaps London upon leaving ORU this spring.
Fashion, food, art and the arts were explored by columnists Victoria Atterberry and Emma Giddens, and feature stories about the Tulsa scene and ORU individuals of note and notoriety, authored by Kayley Forshey and Lauren Brewington helped us get to know our community and those who make it interesting and lively, like our own-staff Van Gogh, hikers, mountain climbers and achievers of all sorts.
The Oracle has also acted as a change agent, exposing in one investigative report the fact that a chemical, phase, was being used in Sodexo prepared foods. The food provider agreed to eliminate the use of the toxic substance in food preparation at ORU upon learning of the problematic effects of the additive brought to light by the insightful report.
The 2016-17 Oracle staff numbers about 30, a great group of editors, writers/reporters, photographers and graphic designers who worked together as a team to accomplish what may be the best university newspapers in the Great Plains Association eight state area. The Oracle is a finalist in the competition – including Design Editor Tabitha Levi, Alyssa LaCourse, Russell Dorsey and several other staff members – winners will be announced at the Great Plains award banquet on May 1st and the Oracle’s wins posted on the publication’s website shortly afterward, as the final edition will have gone to press by that time.  Oracle also took a record 19 wins at OCMA recently.
The future looks bright for the Oracle. Even though Editor-in-Chief Alyssa LaCourse, Sports Editor Russell Dorsey, Lifestyle Editor Victoria Atterberry and photographer Rebecca Cuzick will be graduating, a good portion of the staff will still be with us next year. Many new journalism and media students are starting the ORU journey in the fall as well, and the excellent groundwork lain by those departing will provide the foundation for an Oracle that can only continue to grow and rise higher on the landscape of news media excellence.
I am so proud of each and every person who has contributed his or her hard work and ingenuity toward the building up of the Oracle. Thank you for all you have done. As for those of you leaving – go with Godspeed – making sure that God’s light shines in the darkness and that His voice is heard large wherever you go.

About Linda Royall, Photo by Jeremy Luczak

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