Interview requests are nothing new to Courtney Paris. Recently, however, she gained an entirely different perspective on the process.
Instead of giving interviews on an almost daily basis like she does during basketball season, the University of Oklahoma senior found herself on the other side of the microphone, so to speak. For eight weeks this summer, instead of being the story, Paris sought out, researched and wrote news stories for the college newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily.
She was, if only for a brief period, a member of the media.
The class, News Gathering 3013, offered her a glimpse at how things work in the world of journalism. More than that, the course helped improve her communication skills at various levels.
"It's been hard. News gathering is probably one of the toughest classes I've had here as a student," said Paris, a three-time All-American who has helped lead coach Sherri Coale's Sooners to an 81-19 mark since her arrival in 2005. "I definitely have a new appreciation for journalism and that whole process."
CONNECTION WITH THE MEDIA
Paris has long shared a connection with the media, going all the way back to when she was a toddler and her father, Bubba Paris, was an All-Pro lineman for the San Francisco 49ers. She and her twin sister, Ashley, began creating their own news on the basketball court as preteens, garnering national attention.
During her first three seasons at OU, Paris has established herself as one of the best collegiate players in the country. She has rewritten several chapters of the Sooners' record book and holds several NCAA records, with one season remaining.
While she is almost a sure bet to become a star in the WNBA at some point, Paris has been working to make sure she has other opportunities in her future. The news gathering class offered another step toward that goal.
"The class has been a great experience because it has taught me so much," she said. "It forced me to wake up every morning and stay in tune with the world " not just sports. It taught me to understand the rules of journalism, better grammar and gave me a different perspective on how to communicate."
Paris' prior experience of dealing with the media no doubt played to her advantage, but only to a certain degree.
"I'm used to being the one giving the interview instead of being on the other side of it. So it was definitely a different kind of experience, especially setting up interviews for stories," she said. "I love to write, but I've never been great at the fundamentals. This class helped me face some of my fears."
PUBLIC SAFETY BEAT
During the course, Paris worked mostly on the public safety beat, which required her to build a rapport with the Norman Police Department and the OU Campus Police.
"Courtney is a really good journalism student. She did well because she had good grounding when she came to the class," said Judy Gibbs Robinson, editorial adviser to The Oklahoma Daily. "She showed good news sense and good instincts, and she's a good writer."
Paris could one day follow in the footsteps of another All-American, Stacey Dales, who has made a name for herself as a WNBA player and a television analyst for ESPN since graduating from OU in 2002. Coale believes Paris has all of the tools to be a success at anything she chooses to do.
"We all have natural gifts and inclinations, and this is certainly one of Courtney's," Coale said. "Stacey is a perfect example. She had the name and face recognition, plus the total collection of skills it takes to be a success in that business. If that is what Courtney chooses to do someday, I have no doubt she will be a success."
For now, Paris will remain focused on her final basketball season with the Sooners. While writing or telling a good story holds a great deal of appeal, Paris is more interested in her immediate future and the possibility of winning a national championship. "Jay C. Upchurch