Journalism alumni Kelly Dickey ‘13 and Matt McKinney ‘15 were involved in student media from day one. From telling stories on the basketball court to copyediting, they really made a name for themselves in the newsroom. Fast forward to 2020, the friends became a couple and now work in the Indianapolis area as professional storytellers. Kelly works as a Communications specialist for Pepper Construction and Matt is a Local Government Reporter for RTV6. We sat down to discuss how their involvement at Ball State and what happened after CCIM.
Writer: Caitlen Ramey, Department of Journalism Student • Interviewer: Chris Zurisk, Telecommunications Student • Video: Ball State UMS
What type of students were you?
KD: I was very involved in student media starting my sophomore year. If a professor needed to talk to me, they knew that they would find me in the Daily News newsroom about 90% of the time. There were definitely times where I should have gone to class but student media took priority. From the moment I joined I was hooked and it really was a huge focus for me until I graduated.
MK: My story is pretty similar. I was involved in the Daily News all four years at Ball State. I got involved because I knew how important it would be in building my experience so I could get hired once I graduated.
I can already guess where you spent most of your time, but did you have a favorite place on campus?
KD: My home away from home was definitely the Daily News newsroom, before it became the Unified Media Lab. There were nights that I even slept there. It was really just a place of comfort being around people that cared about you.
MK: It is the same for me. I spent most of my time in the newsroom both personally and for the paper. The lines really became blurry on whether I was there working or just hanging out with friends. The newsroom really became a place where you could be yourself and with each other all hours of the day.
Do you have any standout favorite moments from your time at Ball State?
MK: Absolutely. When I was a sophomore, I got a call from my editor while on my way to write a story about a women’s basketball game which he wanted to be on the front page. Having a front page story is a huge deal and as a sophomore, I was super nervous about how it was going to turn out. After writing it and seeing it in print, it was super cool to see my work come to life. I probably took home 20 copies of the paper that week just to remember that moment.
KD: I think its hard for me to pick a single best memory from my time at Ball State. I think the best moments were when you felt the support from all around you, especially when it came to getting recognition and awards. We were really a family so it was just really awesome to feel joy for one another when we received the recognition we deserved and worked hard for.
Were there any faculty members that you considered to be mentors?
KD: For me, I can definitely think of a few: John Strauss, our Daily News advisor, Lori Byers, the associate dean and Professor Ryan Sparrow. All of them are people that I keep in contact with and will still give me advice. I only had Sparrow as a professor once and it was the summer after my freshman year. I didn’t become close to him in that class but later on in my college years he really became someone that I could go to.
MK: John Strauss was definitely someone that really cared about us and he was constantly making sure that we were okay. He would not only give us advice but there were times he’d bring us dinner on those late nights in the newsroom because he wanted to make sure we were alright. Another professor that comes to mind is Brandon Waite from the Political Science department. I work as a local government reporter now for RTV6 so after taking his class it really sparked my interest in political reporting.
Taking you back to your freshman year, what advice would you have given yourself?
MK: Relax and be yourself. College is really about finding out what you’re good at so put yourself out there. You’re going to look at people around you and think that they’re doing better than you but in reality you may be on different paths so it really is about figuring out yourself. Find yourself and your niche and really go for it.
KD: College is really a time to take to figure yourself out. If you want to be a journalist then you really need to join student media. You can go to class but you’re not going to get the extra experience that is needed to be successful in the field. Your time out of the classroom is where you build that experience and those connections for later on. You’re spending all of this money on an education to be a journalist so why not join student media and become one.