Yesterday, OPUBCO announced that it has entered into a contract to sell its ominous 12-story corporate headquarters, manufacturing plant and a bunch of other goodies to American Fidelity Assurance. When the sale goes through, OPUBCO will then lease five floors of the office tower and the production plant, and American Fidelity will gradually relocate to the other floors, including the 12th floor patio and garden.
This news isn’t very surprising. Former OPUBCO President David Thompson is an executive at American Fidelity, and the newspaper industry continues to struggle. At one time it probably made sense for a newspaper-backed media conglomerate to own a big, dark and scary office building that frightened orcs and wildlings, but thanks to declining revenues, circulation and dying reader-base, that time is gone. In 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if OPUBCO moves into an old Braum’s or just starts renting a desk at OKC CoCo.
Anyway, I decided to see stop by NewsOK.com to see what their commenter trolls had to say about the news. Would they be respectful and/or condescending, or would they just go the usual route and blame Obama. Unfortunately, it was none of the above, because this happened:
Last March, the Oklahoman announced it was creating a new energy beat “to provide deeper and more insightful coverage of one of the state’s largest industries.”
At the time, we cautiously took the Oklahoman for their word. Maybe the expanded coverage really would lead to less PR fluff and better reporting on the industry that drives and controls our state’s economy.
So far, the results have been pretty good. Just check out this deep and insightful story in Friday’s paper about the first anniversary of FrackFocus.org, an industry created website where companies must disclose the fluids used in fracking:
For those who want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, Texas’ new hydraulic fracturing disclosure law falls short. The Texas Legislature passed the law in 2011, hoping to allay fears that oil and gas drillers are contaminating groundwater with toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process. As of Feb. 1, companies must report some of the chemical ingredients in their fracking fluids to a website, FracFocus.org…
“It’s to be deceptive,” Wilson said. “It’s to lead us to believe they are using these minuscule amounts of chemicals.”
Instead, each chemical should be reported in a parts per million or parts per billion format, said Wilma Subra, a Louisiana chemist who helps communities take on industrial polluters. That’s the same standard that regulators and scientists use to evaluate risks to the environment and human health.
Even more important is what’s not disclosed. Think of the mix of fracking fluids—water, sand, and a host of chemicals—as a recipe. Citizens and environmental groups want the whole recipe, each ingredient and its precise amount. But the new law allows frackers to withhold chemical components deemed trade secrets. A review of the 25 most recent disclosures, totaling almost 1,300 ingredients, found that trade secrecy is claimed for about 15 percent of the chemical components reported to FracFocus. That’s a “huge flaw,” Subra said.
Another blind spot is that operators aren’t required to test wastewater they may use instead of freshwater. So-called produced water may contain benzene, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. The law also allows operators to keep secret the amounts of any chemicals not regulated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In one instance, the Observer found formaldehyde listed as an “additional ingredient” with no further explanation.
“The bottom line is we will never be able to assess the risk until we have full public disclosure of all the chemicals used,” Wilson said.
We’re just kidding. That article didn’t appear in the Oklahoman. It’s actually an excerpt from an article about fracking that appeared in the March issue of the Texas Observer. The Oklahoman would never publish something like that. Here’s the real article:
Last week we told you about the infuriating and somewhat sad tale of Brett Allred. He’s the lobbyist who lost his temper and wrote some very mean and inappropriate things to a married mother of five on Twitter.
Well, it looks like Brett Allred isn’t the only one who knows how to lose his temper. Yesterday, NewsOK.com reported that the married mother of five who was the target of Allred’s ill-advised attack— Rachel Hernandez — was charged with the hideous crime of “outraging public decency.” The charge stemmed from an incident that occurred at Deer Creek Elementery School last September.
Rachel Renee Hernandez, 32, of Oklahoma City, was charged Monday with outraging public decency, a misdemeanor, in connection with a Sept. 9, 2011, incident at the school, 4704 NW 164.
Hernandez, according to a probable cause affidavit, became irate over her child’s school records from the previous year and refused to leave school property.
Deer Creek’s principal said Hernandez followed staff around campus, interrupted normal school activity and used profanity in the presence of children, a deputy reported.
Hernandez refused to cooperate with the deputy and refused to leave school property, stating that “if I touched her she would punch me,” the deputy said.
When the deputy attempted to take Hernandez into custody, she “became combative and struck me in the head with a file folder,” the deputy said.
Earlier this month, a judge dismissed three felony charges against Hernandez — assault and battery upon a police officer, resisting arrest and trespassing — at the request of prosecutors, court records show.
Did you notice that there is no comment or statement from Rachel Hernandez or her attorney that gives her side of the story. Not even something like “Ms. Hernandez refused to comment.” Fortunately (or unfortunately), we’re here to do the dirty work for a publication that refers to itself as “the state’s most trusted news.” We talked to Rachel, and this is an ultra Cliff Notes version of what we learned:
In effort to combat lagging revenues and fewer print subscribers, The Oklahoman has launched a new premium website called Oklahoman.com. It will basically offer all the content you get at NewsOK.com for free, but will be designed and updated in a more traditional, “day by day,” chronological format. Basically, it’s a slow, simple website for people who can’t handle the hustle and bustle of a 24-hour news cycle…like your grandpa or a woman named Rose.
The Oklahoman has a new website, launching Oklahoman.com as a premium site for its current and future subscribers…
“It’s a premium reading experience,” said Chris Reen, president of OPUBCO Communications Group and publisher of The Oklahoman.
“We carefully designed it for our print and digital subscribers who like the way The Oklahoman is organized every day,” he said.
The website features day-by-day navigation, allowing a reader to see the stories of the day packaged together by familiar sections. Updated breaking news articles throughout the day are showcased separately on a “Live” page.
Current subscribers to The Oklahoman have free access to Oklahoman.com. Print subscriptions start at $12 per month. Nonsubscribers may purchase access to the site as part of a complete digital suite for $15 per month or as a single-product purchase for $9.99 per month.
Let me see. $9.99 to read the same news stories that I can basically read for free over at NewsOK? Thanks, but I think I’ll pass. That is a worse deal than NetFlix. Good luck in the future.
I do kind of feel sorry for the person in the OPUBCO marketing department who got stuck with this product. That’s a no-win situation. You’d have better luck winning a land war in Asia or giving away free Obama bumper stickers at a gun show than you would making Oklahoman.com a success. Since that’s the case, we decided to come up with a list of possible ad slogans for the premium website.
Here are they are:
It’s been a week since Oklahoman reporter Heather Warlick blessed us with her award winning coverage of the fantasy dream throw-up-in-my-mouth marriage proposal. Now she’s back with coverage of the main course: the fantasy dream runway wedding:
The best part about this isn’t the cheesy video or trying to guess what Malorie’s aunt is GOING TO SAY when she DEFENDS!!!!! her niece in the comments section. No, the best part is that you can tell Heather Warlick read my drunken and confused post from last week. Check out the first paragraph of today’s follow-up story:
Thanks! Your message has been sent!