Carla Saavedra Santiago
Scripps College of Communication
'Words allow me to shape the world'
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta
College: Scripps College of Communication
Major: Journalism, News Ed
What does it mean for you to be recognized for your achievements as a student?
I feel I have contributed to the legacy of OU's School of Journalism. Because OU has one of best journalism schools in the country, it has pushed me to do the best I could -- and beyond. I haven't told many people (about this recognition). I'm still surprised. Why me? My friends and other people have done so much.
Has there been a faculty member who has inspired you?
When I first (enrolled at OU), I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. (Knight Professor of Editing) Deborah Gump got me into copyediting. Not many journalists do (that) because they want their name on the byline. Not many want to be behind the scenes. I knew it was the career I wanted. I'm a shy person, so going out and interviewing strangers didn't appeal to me. To be a reporter means you have to be extroverted and aggressive. Not that I'm not aggressive, but I'm laid-back. (Now) I am assured that this is what I want to do. It changed me, matured me a lot. I am more independent.
What intrigues you?
I am intrigued by what I'll become in the next five years.
How do you see yourself now? And in your future?
I see myself as a hardworking student. I'm lucky, because my parents worked really hard for me to get here. I see myself happy in the future, successful. I'd like to be an editor in a magazine but still have time for my family.
What keeps you focused on your goal?
My parents sustain me; they are proud.
Explain your internships and experience.
I got my first internship through a Scripps Howard (the corporate foundation of The E.W. Scripps Co.) grant in Florida. It was the first time I'd been by myself. ... It was a really great experience. I worked copyediting, 4 p.m. till 1 a.m., with Treasure Coast Newspapers. I wrote headlines, cutlines and chose photographs. I could go to the beach during the day. For the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund internship, I compiled the NASCAR page with Morris News Service. For Speakeasy (the online student publication), I was the feature-based copy editor and wrote headlines. I was the "E-news" editor for the Scripps College of Communication. I was the copy chief for backdrop magazine, a new by-students, for-students magazine (at Ohio University).
Describe your writing/editing process.
Copy editors do page design, and I absolutely love that. I look at all stories and pictures in InDesign. I like trying new designs out and seeing how it organically comes together. Once the dominant photo is chosen for the (design of the) main story, everything comes together easily.
Describe your relationship with words.
Words allow me to shape the world around me. I can do a lot with words. I can sway people one way or another by using the right word. Copy editors have a lot of power, so you always have to keep that in mind. But that power is not scary when it is in the right hands.
What would stop you from printing a story?
I would stop a story if I didn't think it was ethical: portraying underrepresented groups in the wrong way, showing them in an unfair light. They don't deserve a one-sided or slanted story.
You have written about Troy Anthony Davis and his trial. Explain.
I was working for Savannah Morning News. He was on death row when I first saw the press release, but I started searching online. (Amnesty International) had been fighting (on his behalf) for years. I realized this wasn't just another case. People had recanted their statements. His family had been fighting to get the death sentence dropped. By the end of the summer, the sentence got changed to life in prison, so he wasn't executed. So I learned that writing a story is a matter of life or death for someone. Even if my story was just the facts, what happened afterward still changed his life. It was really powerful that one story can make or break somebody. Truth is really important to me, especially when it has somebody else's life in its hands.
Interview by Jenaye Antonuccio, BA '95. Photo by Matt Eich, BA '08.