Adjunct professor makes lasting impact

By Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor

Thursday, April 25th, previous OBU adjunct professor, Brian Blansett, was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

“It’s a pretty big honor,” Blansett said. “A lot of first-rate journalists have been nominated and it’s an honor to be recognized beside them.”

In order to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a person must be nominated and then chosen by a selection committee. Blansett was nominated by retired editor of The Oklahoman, Joe Hight.

Blansett said he knew as a third-grader that he wanted to be a newspaperman and since then it’s been a very fun ride.

“I didn’t have any particular idea what that meant at the time,” Blansett said. “I just knew I wanted experiences, and that’s what I got.”

Blansett has worked for the Stratford Star, the Ada Evening News, the Sulphur Times-Democrat, The Daily Ardmoreite, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Shawnee News-Star and was also elected as the president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 2017.

Blansett currently owns the Tri-County Herald in Meeker and Stroud American and said it’s the most fun he’s had in his entire career.

During his time at the Waco Tribune-Herald Blansett led the coverage over the assault on the Mount Carmel Center by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as, an investigative series over the Branch Davidians, which was eventually a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Assistant professor of journalism Holly Easttom said that Blansett has done everything in his career to be an accurate, invested and professional journalist with an amazing personal style.

“Brian is an exceptional journalist, an exceptional educator and an exceptional human,” Easttom said. “In all of the individuals in my life, he’s in the top 10 of people I know, respect, admire and want to emulate to a certain extent, professionally. He’s the gold standard.”

While being a journalist and an educator, Blansett has also been a mentor to others in his field.

OBU alum, Nicole Smith, said Blansett made her the journalist she is today.

“When I first started working for Brian as an intern my sophomore year of college, I thought I was already where I needed to be as a writer,” Smith said. “But I quickly realized I had a lot more to learn and Brian had a lot more to teach me.”

Smith said Brian continued to work with her as a mentor and friend throughout her college career and assigned her stories most people wouldn’t give to a college student.

“He gives you challenges that he believes you can meet and exceed even if you don’t believe it yourself,” Smith said. “Then when you do succeed; he’s never surprised.”

Both Smith and Easttom said Blansett’s induction into the Hall of Fame is not a surprise and if anything, long overdue. Smith said to her he’s already a legend and always has been.

“His work with the Waco-Tribune more than speaks for his abilities as a journalist and leader,” Smith said. “This is more of a formal recognition of what anyone he’s worked with already knows. He’s the best journalist I know, and I hope he continues to mentor many more young journalists, because the world needs more like him.”

Brian will be back on Bison Hill next semester teaching photojournalism.

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