Internships are invaluable (as if i’m telling you something you didn’t know)

My Page 1 play for my Indian Museum storyPractice makes perfect.

After my internship at The Oklahoman this summer, I truly couldn’t agree more.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to improve this summer until I arrived at the Oklahoman, and my copy came under the scrutiny of the editors here.

My first few stories were under par, and I was worried I had failed the editors’ litmus test. As discouraged as I might have been, they kept their faith in me, and in a few weeks, I was pumping out cleaner copy every day.

One of those stories was the one shown on the right. With the patience of Rick Green, the local desk editor here, I turned what was a mind-numbing numbers story into something truly valuable to the reader.

I should say that I had two goals this summer, and I would have been happy with just one of them being accomplished: Either (A): Get good play on the front page, or (B): Have two stories run on the same day.

I guess I set my goals pretty low, because the staff did more than their share to ensure that I got great stories and that they were well-played on the page. For example, in my first week, I had two front page stories.

One was on FEMA’s response to Oklahoma’s tornado damage. The other was this one.

Not only that, but in one edition I claimed the front page CP, and then had a second article teased on the front page as well. That broke both goals I wanted to achieve.

Another time, in yesterday’s edition, August 4, I got CP on the Page 1 AND on the Metro front.

I really can’t believe all the good that has come out of this internship for me.

I’ve made some amazing connections with some extraordinary journalists and interns here.

My writing went from typical fresh-out-of-j-school approach, to a more polished, professional style.

I’m still nowhere close to where I want to be as a storyteller. But give me two more years, and I might just be hirable. *Hint, Hint to any newspaper recruiters reading this*.


I-40 work is on fast track to completion

This piece was part of a double truck piece in The Oklahoman Sunday edition, June 26, 2011. To see the PDF of this piece, with accompanying photographs and timeline, click here. View the other page here.

By: Brandon Goodwin

Construction crews pour concrete over exposed rebar on top of the Walker Street bridge in Oklahoma City. The bridge overlooks an expansive 10-lane interstate construction project, busy with traffic from dump trucks and earthmovers.

The new, four-mile Crosstown Expressway, the most expensive road project in state history, is projected to open next summer, a few months ahead of schedule.

“We’re coming to the last leg of the race,” state Transportation Department Division Engineer Paul Green said.

Crews working on the $670 million project have completed 19 of the 23 individual jobs that make up the new expressway. Three remaining portions still are under construction, and the final piece will be put out for bid in July.

The east and west ends of the main corridor are finished. The middle part of the corridor is paved except for one section. Medians are still being constructed. Walls enclosing the north side of the highway still lack graffiti-proof paint. On-and-off ramps are under construction, officials said.

But opening the new interstate in 2012 will not bring an end to construction for I-40 drivers. “That’s just the day we get them off the old bridge,” said Green.

Traffic will be set in temporary configurations while work is done on the I-40 and I-44 junction on the west side as well as Interstate 35, I-40 and I-235 junctions on the east side of the corridor.

Immediately after the opening of the new Crosstown Expressway, deconstruction of the old elevated roadway will begin.

The new interstate is five blocks south of the current Crosstown Expressway.

The current expressway is a dilapidated version of its former self. Built back in 1966, the two-mile stretch of bridge was the first of its kind in Oklahoma.

Builders speculated the expressway would last 50 years. Construction cost $12.6 million, a small fraction of the price of its successor 45 years later.

In the past decade, repair crews regularly obstruct traffic to patch sections of roadway, which break off and fall to the ground below.

The bridge has raised safety concerns, though Transportation Department officials reassure drivers that the current bridge is safe.

Construction on the new expressway started in late 2005. Federal funding problems delayed parts of construction in 2008. Issues with relocating part of the Oklahoma City railway line delayed work in 2009.

Completion of the 7-year project will unleash another wave of construction barrels and heavy machinery into downtown.

The old Crosstown will be replaced with a six-lane boulevard that is part of MAPS 3, a plan to breathe life into the area south of downtown.