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:
As newspapers lay dying, they continue to maintain their superiority complex when it comes to the topic of the internet. Just mention the world wide web in the presence of a print journalist and you can count on a soapbox rant about how the anonymity afforded by the medium is ruining public discourse and how the ease of publication is watering down the collective intellectual capital of society.
It is a good thing that this state’s largest print publication is around to set an example.
Patrick pointed out on Monday that The Oklahoman published their endorsement for President of the United States about eleven months prior to the election. They did it with an article that clearly communicated that it was the opinion of…well, every single person in the made up utopia of “Heartland.” But at least we know that it was written by…nope, they didn’t even give the author an anonymous handle like “Reaganisgod40.” Personally, I have J. E. McReynolds in The Lost Ogle’s office pool about the identity of the writer, but even if it seems obvious, no one associates their name with the loosely supported opinions.
This means the anti-Obama, slightly pro-Romney, diatribe can best be described as the prevailing wisdom of the entire brain trust of the most influential news organization in the 405. It was printed in the most heavily circulated edition of the organization’s weekly distribution. So, one would expect that it would not read like an ill-informed message board posting.
After the jump, we test that theory.
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