Triumphs of the Pen; Student Media Alumni Feature

Courtesy/NIcole Joleen

It could be said that Journalism majors in colleges around the country have a few possible career paths post-graduation. For many who have found their passion in the field for reporting the truth and being voices of the people, they have taken roles in the many areas of news production and reporting in the competitive field of journalism.

For others however, their passion for journalism came from a love of putting pen to paper. For Nicole Jocleen and other such writers who still make use of pen and paper to record notes and take pride in the artform of writing with a purpose, being a journalism major was simply a means to an end.

“Writing for that web series put me back into writing. I had already published a poetry book and a fiction novel, but [the web series] put me onto screenwriting,” said Jocleen regarding her shift in writing niches as she evolved into more creative spheres. Jocleen noted how she had always naturally aligned with poetry when it comes to her creative literary safe space.

As noted by Jocleen, being a news writer prepared her in many ways for the career path that life would later bring her on. This yielded results in the form of multiple book publishings, which would ultimately lead to her some of her first large creative collaborations with filmmaker and activist Kevin Powell.

The turning point for Jocleen ultimately ended up being the decision to turn one of her books into a web series, which eventually nudged the progressing writer to forums such as that of Kevin Powell’s Writing Workshop, a collaborative effort that featured one of her more recent poems titled Thank God For the Internet.

“The things that I’ve learned at Southern fall in place in everything [else that I’ve done]. Even with journalism, it’s just storytelling [based on the facts],” said Jocleen on how she adapted to writing in different formats. A repeating factor that Nicole mentions many times is how different writing techniques and practices in journalism are applicable to both creative writing and screenwriting.

Co-founding the Devoted Media Group in Oklahoma City, Jocleen used this introduction into the web series world to propel herself into the genre wholeheartedly. Since 2015, the Devoted Media Group has developed three web series, two feature length films, and around half a dozen short films.

“In Oklahoma City, it’s hard to get mainstream recognition, so we’re working to compete with not only international filmmakers, but filmmakers from other cities [across the country] as well,” said Jocleen in response to being asked about the high number of projects being produced in recent years.

Being a student at Southern and an editor for the Office of Student Media, Nicole spoke at length about how working on both sides of the writing sphere has helped her make an observation on the similarities and differences between more creative niches of writing and the traditional formatting of news writing.

“With journalism, it’s like you’re telling someone else’s story…but when you start script writing or poetry, it’s like ‘I can put my opinion in my poetry or in a book’, and there is more freedom [in that regard],” noted Jocleen.

“At the same time, after doing journalism [for a certain amount of time], I see the story in everything. So when people say, ‘ How do you get your ideas?’, I point at that background in journalism,” continued Jocleen.

While the Mass Communications department and Student Media have both produced their fair share of capable journalists in the field post graduation, it’s also created just as many great writers who now operate outside of the journalistic sphere. So even if the journalism lifestyle and approach to writing isn’t appealing to all Jags, the resources made available by Southern University via their departments and student organizations do their best to enhance the pen of each student so that they can find careers in a wide range of writing professions.

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