A Dozen Student Journalists Nominated for OCMA Event


Emily Loughridge

The Trend nomiated 30 pieces from 12 students in a journalism excellence conference, OCMA. The group will attend the conference in mid-April. Back row (L to R): Paul Tointigh, Gary Jackson, Caleb Smith, Thomas Buchanan Front row (L to R): Emily Loughridge, Cortni Taylor, Hannah Dudleson, Bethany Sackett, Mary-Grace McNutt

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

Writing for The Trend provides student journalists with various opportunities to improve their writing skills and resumes. One of the ways to improve student journalists’ resumes is to attend the Oklahoma Collegiate Media Association (OCMA) conference in mid-April. Dr. J.C. Casey, professor of Communication, said The Trend nominated 30 pieces across 11 categories from 12 student journalists, which is the most in her 23 years as The Trend’s advisor.

OCMA is a journalism excellence conference that brings together colleges and universities from around Oklahoma to judge student jounalists’ work, build connections between students, and hold sessions to focus on the different aspects of journalism.            Dr. Casey said that the conference forms a community to share knowledge and learn from one another. The conference begins with several panel sessions before moving to lunch and the award ceremony.

The Trend is taking a dozen student journalists from various majors, including Communication, Biology, History, English, and Art. This variety of students shows how diverse The Trend is and showcases a sample of USAO’s student body.

Emily Loughridge, a second-year Communication major, nominated 13 pieces across nine categories. Loughridge was also nominated for a reporting and photography portfolio. Loughridge’s nominations are scattered throughout categories, including editorial writing, general news, investigative reporting, sports reporting, news photography, feature photography, and sports photography. She has five photos entered in her photography portfolio, as well as five articles in her reporting portfolio.

Gary Jackson, a second-year Communication major, published the most viewed article on The Trend’s website for the 2022 year. His review of Juice WRLD’s album “Cigarettes” sparked views across all of The Trend’s platforms and has over 200 views and counting. Although a transfer student, Paul Tointigh, a third-year Communication major, quickly felt at home on campus and dove into USAO’s freshman seminar class. Tointigh learned about the newly formed class and tried to understand the students’ point of view.

Bethany Sackett, a fourth-year Communication major, discussed Valentine’s Day as a day of love with many forms in her nominated editorial. Mary-Grace McNutt had one photo, from her “No Vacancy” photo essay, entered in the feature photography category.

In past OCMA trips, The Trend has taken a majority of Communication majors, but the last trio of editors have made it a priority to branch out of the Communication field to include more points of view and opinion within The Trend. It has been a goal to explore new topics that The Trend has not looked into or has not written about in recent times.

One of those ideas was golf, which is how fourth-year Biology major and golf player Caleb Smith found his way to The Trend. Smith had his debut article was nominated in the sports reporting category. Another new writer is Bea Bralen, a first-year Environmental Science major, who contributed eight pieces across three categories, as well as a reporting portfolio. Bourland was nominated in general news, investigative reporting, and a reporting portfolio, where she entered five articles.

Rhiannon Quillin, a fourth-year Multidisciplinary Studies major, was nominated in the review category for her analysis of a book trilogy in the fall trimester. Cortni Taylor, a history major, also entered into the review category for her thoughts on “Don’t Look Up.” Hannah Dudleson, a second-year English Education major, is taking her second trip to the OCMAs with her nomination in the investigative reporting category.

As The Trend began dipping its toes into new ventures this past year, Thomas Buchanan, a first-year Art major, joined The Trend’s staff and began drawing relatable cartoons about life on campus. Buchanan was nominated for three of his sketches in the cartoon category.

Laura Barrios Bardi, another first-year Art major, started publishing her photos of USAO’s athletic events later in the year, and the photos have quickly gained popularity among the student body. Bardi entered seven photos into two categories, including a five-photo photography portfolio.

The OCMA conference is split into two divisions: gold and diamond. The gold division is seven universities including Oklahoma State University (OSU), University of Oklahoma (OU), and University of Tulsa. The diamond division has nine universities including USAO, Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), and Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU). The conference boasts 16 categories for newspapers to submit their works to, which The Trend entered 11 of.

Dr. Casey said the uptick in nominations is due to The Trend’s last three editors. The trio worked to migrate The Trend to a more modern, user-friendly platform and worked to recruit students from diverse majors. She continued to say that she feels The Trend has been brought back into focus for students and gives them a place to showcase their voice.

In the last three trimesters The Trend has increased their article output three times over. In the spring of 2022, The Trend published 21 articles. Then in the summer of 2022, the publication published 13 articles with their limited staff. However, in the fall of 2022, The Trend had 70 articles hit the front page. This change is in part due to the editorial staff, but mostly due to the increase of writers and their interest. The Trend currently boasts 29 writers on its staff, and is scouting the campus for more. So, in the three trimesters of 2022, what did the writers post and which pieces were nominated for this year’s OCMA conference?




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Emily Loughridge is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.