Veteran reporter accepts Gaylord Prize in OKC

Hundreds of students, alumni, guests, faculty and staff from OU gathered Dec. 7 in the Century Ballroom at Sheraton Hotel, 1 N. Broadway, to witness the second inaugural Gaylord Prize event. 

This year, Gaylord College awarded the Gaylord Prize to Thomas L. Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning economics reporter at the New York Times.

Friedman has traveled thousands of miles to places such as London, Israel and Bayreuth to report significant events and discuss international economics, and has also written five books, including international bestseller "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century."

"It's with special pride and joy that I accept this award," Friedman said.

He highlighted how he became a journalist.  In 10th grade, he took a journalism course " which to this day is the only one he's ever taken " his teacher taught him everything he ever needed to know to accomplish his goals.

"She was one of those great teachers that had a singular impact on a student's life, and fortunately I was that student," Friedman said. 

He had never been out of his hometown in Minnesota until 1968 when he took a trip to Israel.  That trip left yet another impact on him, and while getting his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, Friedman studied abroad in Israel and Oxford, and was inspired by other cultures.

He wrote his first opinion story for the Des Moines Register.

"I thought that was the coolest thing ever," Friedman said.  "I had an opinion, I wrote it down and someone paid me $50.  I've been hooked ever since."

His first job as a United Press International correspondent taught him to cover all the basics, which helped him when he was assigned to cover major events such as the Iranian Revolution and the Presidential election of 1979.

"It was the first time it really hit me"¦I have the best job in the world," Friedman said.

He urged the Gaylord College students to keep pushing forward, even in a "flat world."

Friedman shared two rules: "Whatever can be done will be done, and the question is will it be done by you or to you?" and "The most important competition is not from company to company, but between you and your imagination."

"More and more things are becoming commodities in this world," he said.  "The one thing that isn't a commodity today is imagination, it's the one thing nobody can take away. I urge students to go from strength to strength.  The future belongs to the dream machine, whoever enables the idea.  Everything else you can find online."

The world may be flat, but Thomas Friedman won't stop using his imagination.

"What you imagine really matters," he said. "Paige Lawler

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