Meet The Frontier: Reporter Kassie McClung

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Now through Dec. 31, your tax-deductible donation of up to $1,000 to The Frontier will be doubled through the Newsmatch program. Launched by the Knight Foundation in 2016, NewsMatch is funding more than $3 million in matching funds with the support of a diverse group of donors including Democracy Fund and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

The Frontier is dedicated to independent, uncompromising journalism that shines a light on issues Oklahomans care about. We’re profiling a different Frontier staff member each week through the end of the year in conjunction with our NewsMatch campaign.

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Favorite book: Is it cheating if I pick more than one? There’s so many books I love for different reasons.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Into the Story by David Maraniss
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Harry Potter by JK Rowling — the entire series.

Favorite movie: The Iron Giant

Favorite food: Chicken tikka masala (from India Palace)

Tell us about yourself and how you came to join The Frontier.
I got hooked on journalism while working at Oklahoma State University’s independent student newspaper, The O’Colly. I loved the hustle of writing on deadline, the chance to interview all types of people, and constantly learning about new policies and issues.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I was fortunate enough to land an internship with The Frontier during my senior year at OSU. Our former editor, Ziva Branstetter, offered me an internship, and I was hired on full time a few months later.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of The Frontier team?
I get to work with a tight-knit group of journalists I’m proud to know.

We have the time to delve into important issues and thoroughly report on them — whether that takes a few weeks or even months — and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Everyone brings something different to the table, and it’s been fun to see that evolve in a very collaborative way.

I’ve appreciated the chance to pick up new skills, like learning R, and actually getting to use those tools in my daily reporting.

There’s a lot about being part of The Frontier team that I like.

But I think my favorite part is knowing we can chase important stories, hold powerful people accountable and truly be independent in the process.

What’s your favorite story The Frontier has published or that you’ve written?

Last year I worked on a five-part series about sexual assault that took a year and more than 70 interviews to finish. Most outlets don’t have the time or resources to give to that kind of work, but working at The Frontier allowed me to give months to the project.

We found problems in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system and in the way the state’s Legislature handles bills meant to protect victims. Throughout the year, I’ve continued to follow the process of the state auditing its untested rape kits, and I plan to continue that reporting in 2019.

Why is nonprofit news important in Oklahoma?

As newsrooms shrink, Oklahoma needs more in-depth coverage of issues affecting the state. Our staff has spent weeks, or months, on stories that probably wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

Your financial support for our investigative journalism is now tax deductible. To become a Friend of The Frontier, click here.

Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
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