Former Pioneer editor continues the good fight

This year has been a big one for Joey Stipek – from being awarded a $2,000 grant from FOI to fight a lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma concerning public records on parking tickets, to more recently being published in the New York Times for his story on Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity video of members using the N-word.

The former Pioneer editor who now writes for the OU Daily, said, of these milestones in his journalism career, his biggest accomplishment has been not getting kicked out of school.

News Writing Professor Sue Hinton had Stipek in her class at OCCC in 2010. She said he is a classic journalist — he tends to focus more on the newspaper than on his studies.

Stipek attributes his passion for journalism to his peers and overseers at the Pioneer newspaper.

He said he recalls looking through the Pioneer archives and reading stories written by Matt Skvarla, Chris Lusk and Richard Hall — all former editors — and aspiring to follow in their footsteps.

“I sat down and looked through copies of the Pioneer, and there were two names that really stood out — Richard Hall and Chris Lusk,” he said.

Stipek said they were both journalists who seemed to do everything right. He said he took an Intro to Programming course because they also took the course.

Hinton said, since Stipek took her class, he has grown as a journalist.

She said she attributes that to the coaching she, Pioneer News Writing Instructional Assistant Ronna Austin and OU Adviser Judy Gibbs Robinson have given him.

She said the three of them have offered Stipek numerous professional tips while he has been in college and he has put them to good use. Hinton said simplicity and clarity are crucial journalism skills which Stipek absorbed over time.

Hinton said the fact that Stipek thought the OU parking ticket story worth pursuing reflects on him as a good journalist.

“The thing about news writing, is it’s harder than it looks, because it has to be so clear and thorough, yet so simple,” she said.“It’s a big deal that he worked to get clarity on parking tickets at OU … .

“He went after those records believing that the law was clear [about the open records on parking tickets].”

Hinton said Stipek is the first journalist from the Pioneer to be published in the New York Times, which, she said, is a very big deal.

“I think he left here as a better writer and a better reporter, and I think he has just continued to mature and grow,” she said.

“We were proud of the work he did here. He won a number of awards for us here.”

Hinton said she is certain the Pioneer will continue to produce these types of journalists.

“I will credit Ronna for trying to adhere to a standard [for our journalists] — for working on basic skills, getting information, seeking open records and writing the hard stories.”

Hinton said that training has been a part of the Pioneer culture for many years.

She said the Pioneer has given a lot of students a good foundation in journalism and Stipek is one of them.

Stipek can be followed on Twitter @JoeyStipek.

To contact Bryce McElhaney,email

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