UCO Graduate Earns Best New Journalist of the Year
It’s been a busy and exciting year for Kyle Schwab — but that’s typical for a court reporter, the UCO graduate and recent recipient of AP/ONE's Best New Journalist of the Year award said.
Kyle Schwab, 24, is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, Class of 2014. He currently works as a reporter for the Oklahoman. Photo provided by Doug Hoke, the Oklahoman.
It’s been a busy and exciting year for Kyle Schwab — but that’s typical for a court reporter, the University of Central Oklahoma alum said.
Schwab earned a journalism degree from UCO in 2014 with minors in advertising and film studies. He currently works as a staff writer for The Oklahoman, where he covers court cases and local news.
Although he is one of the youngest reporters in The Oklahoman newsroom, Schwab, 24, has spent the last year covering high-profile court cases, such as the trial of Daniel Holtzclaw. Holtzclaw was charged with 36 counts that accused him of sexually assaulting 13 black females between December 2013 and June 2014 while a police officer. After a six-week trial, a jury found Holtzclaw guilty on Dec. 10 of 18 sexual offenses, including four counts of first-degree rape, involving eight victims.
— Kyle Schwab (@SchwabKyle) January 21, 2016
Schwab recently earned the Best New Journalist of the Year award from the Associated Press Oklahoma News Executives (AP/ONE).
Schwab said he initially planned to get a business degree but instead switched to journalism after discovering how much he liked to write.
“I enjoyed writing and wanted to pursue a career in it,” Schwab said. “During my time at UCO, it seemed like I was constantly writing something— and the journalism courses I took definitely prepared me for the real world.”
Schwab said it was helpful that all of his UCO professors either currently worked as journalists or had worked in the journalism field before.
“[My] professors were able to give advice on a personal level— some taught structure and the basics while others helped with creativity and style,” Schwab said. “And being assigned to write stories in most courses simply made me comfortable over time with putting articles together.”
Schwab began interning for The Oklahoman in 2013, where he said he was able to apply the fundamentals he learned at UCO to his reporting, but still had a lot to learn about putting together a good story.
After spending nearly a year as an intern, Schwab was hired part-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter, then was hired full-time as the courthouse reporter a year after that, he said.
Schwab said he can’t pin down his favorite aspect about being a journalist, but being on the court beat arguably is what he enjoys most.
As The Oklahoman’s eyes and ears in the courtroom, Schwab said it is rewarding when he is able to relay messages to the public when they are unable to attend certain trials.
“I didn’t begin on the court beat, but I’m glad that’s where my editors wanted me,” Schwab said. “Anything can happen [at the courthouse]— it’s a thrill each day.”
For those thinking the stuffy, old courthouses would be too boring, Schwab said he had a different opinion and outlook.
“I laugh when people ask me if my job is boring [because] it’s the complete opposite,” Schwab said. “I was able to report on multiple high-profile cases just within the first year of being assigned to cover the courts, and more interesting— and sometimes unbelievable— cases arise every week.”
— okbizeditor (@okbizeditor) May 15, 2016
Schwab cited the many seasoned reporters at The Oklahoman for helping shape his journalistic talents.
“I’m fortunate to work with many veteran journalists at The Oklahoman who have covered courts and other legal affairs for decades,” he said. “Two reporters, Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis, were inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame earlier this year, and my editor, Robby Trammell, was inducted in 2015 … Being surrounded by award-winning reporters who are willing to lend advice is very beneficial.”
Specifically, Clay’s influence deserves the most credit for the Best New Journalist honor, Schwab said.
“Nolan has been a fantastic mentor to me for more than a year now, and he continues to make me a stronger writer each day,” Schwab said. “I couldn’t ask for a better mentor— I’ve learned more about reporting from him than anyone else.”
“It was such an honor winning the Best New Journalist award,” Schwab said. “When I first started working as a reporter, I never expected to win anything like that. I thank God for putting me where I am and blessing me with such an accomplishment.”
Schwab said he encourages current UCO students hoping to become successful journalists someday to have an enthusiastic outlook about whatever subject he or she is writing about.
“You’re not always going to cover something you want to, but it will benefit you to approach each story with a positive attitude— that will impress your editors,” Schwab said. “Also, if you have the chance to work with reporters who’ve been in the business for decades, learn from them and be open to their advice— they know what they’re talking about.”
To see more of Schwab’s reporting, follow him on Twitter: @KyleSchwab.