Back in 2001 — right after OU won the National Championship — the Oklahoman published a commemorative book to celebrate the Sooners’ magical season. If I remember correctly, the book was hardcover and took a chronological look at the 2000 season. It included pictures of the games along with previously published Oklahoman game recaps
The book wasn’t anything too special. It was basically an easy way for the Oklahoman to make a dime on the new Renaissance of OU football hysteria that was sweeping the state, but it worked on me. I’m pretty sure I bought a copy for myself and one as a birthday present for my Grandpa. Boomer Sooner.
For some reason, I remember that Berry Tramel write a forward in the book. In his folksy, effortless prose, Berry explained the importance of OU football in our state. He wrote about how the paper prints more copies on the Sunday’s following games and how the outcome of a game can effect the psyche of the state on a Sunday morning. He also wrote that the Oklahoman’s OU football beat writer — a position that was then held by George Schroeder — may just be the most important job in the state.
Well, it looks like the OU football beat reporter is no longer the most important job in the state. Hell, it may not even be the best OU football reporting job in the state.
Last week, Oklahoman Editor Ed Kelley announced he is leaving the “state’s most trusted news” to take over the editing duties of the Washington Times. This is kind of significant, considering Kelley has been the editor of the Oklahoman since 2003 and was the first person not from the powerful/polarizing Gaylord
dynasty family to serve in that role.
During his tenure, Kelley helped navigate through a dynamic (and tumultuous) period in the industry. Internet and social media has radically changed the way news and information is relayed and delivered, while declining circulation and revenues have forced the Black Tower to layoff employees, close child care facilities and reduce their staff.
To get a perspective on Kelley’s stint as editor, we emailed to see if he would like to take part in a Q&A. He never replied.
Since we’re apparently not good enough to have Ed Kelley even gracefully decline an interview request, we went an alternate route. We emailed a list of questions to a panel of local journalism experts and pundits to get their take on the Ed Kelly era. Our panel of experts includes:
Dr. Joe Foote: Dean and Chair of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.
Arnold Hamilton: The editor of the Oklahoma Observer since September 2006 and a 32-year veteran of daily newspapers. He is a former staff writer for the Dallas Morning News, the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
I’ll be honest with you, this was a fun little project to work on. The panel members all have diverse and different backgrounds and political views, and it was interesting to see the differences (and similarities) in their answers.
Check it out after the jump:
PS: While working on this piece, OPUBCO announced that Publisher David Thompson will be leaving the paper in August. He will be succeeded by Chris “Wimgo” Reen…more on that later.
NewsOK.com really isn’t that bad of a website. But…if you took a poll to determine the most annoying thing about the site, I would bet good money that the top complaint would be the stupid auto-play videos that accompany most of their news stories.
I say that because it’s an issue that I’m sure has gotten quite a few college students, office workers and people at the Gazette in trouble over the past 3 – 5 years. You know what I’m talking about.
It probably happened to you one morning while you’re at work or class. You’re a little bored and decide to check out Royce’s Daily Bolts. You then see a link to some Darnell Mayberry column. You click on the link and a few seconds later you’re greeted to the loud audio of some guy telling you “I sell Edmond.” Of course, that dude is then followed by Jenni Carlson and Mike Baldwin — two people who have the sports IQs of drunk llamas— discussing Serge Ibaka nicknames and Eric Maynor tattoos.
Well, I wanted to find out exactly why NewsOK.com thinks it’s cool to “surprise” people with unexpected video content. So I emailed Alan Herzberger, the Digital Managing Editor for OPUBCO to get an answer.
Here’s what I asked
Of course, how headline editors choose to grab one’s attention often says a lot about their employer and/or audience. For instance, yesterday the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling on Randy Terrill’s controversial anti-Mexican legislation (House Bill 1804). What did the ruling say? You could read the story every major reporting agency in the city had yesterday (all of them basically said the same thing) or you can read the headlines from every major reporting agency (and get very different outlooks about what happened).
Let’s take a look:
As the public broadcasting option in OKC, OETA does not have advertisers to impress. Their ratings (in this case: pageviews) are arbitrarily important to the station. It show by that boring-ass headline.
Also, as a public entity receiving tax money, they work very hard to show no bias liberal or conservative…contrary to what one side of that spectrum tries to make you believe. The result is that they truly have to stick to journalistic standards–and that is what their audience craves. Hence, the headline does not nudge the reader to think one way or another.
Other media sources did not have such qualms.
Kevin Calvey is linked to the Russians!
Who cares? The 5th District congressional candidate could be photographed in a ushanka, drinking Smirnoff, eating borscht, while playing with nesting dolls in front of the Kremlin with Boris Yeltsin, and it would be no big deal. Despite hundreds of Hollywood films depicting the Russians as public enemy #1, the Cold War is over. The Rooskies are now greedy capitalists, the U.S. won, and they are now our allies.
You know who does care? The Oklahoman, which may have dropped the “Daily” from its name to modernize, but otherwise still thinks it’s the 1980′s. How else can you explain a paper that typically avoids doing any kind of digging doing a shocking expose in the lead up to the 5th District Republican run-off.
Here are the facts as laid out on NewsOK.com:
That last part may have been conjecture, but the fact of the matter is that the articles run in The Oklahoman, a paper I think everyone can agree is usually very kind to Republicans, is certainly framing the Russian aspect of this story as pretty damning.
If this were 1982, with Ronald Reagan cheerleading anti-communist sentiment while Gorbachev manufactured nuclear weapons that were pointed at Washington D.C. as soon as they came off the assembly line–and newspapers were still relevant and profitable–such an expose would be entirely relevant. Or at least that aspect of the expose would make sense.
Buried in the lede of Soviet paranoia is that Calvey’s campaign funding really is kind of sketchy. Michael, who made the maximum allowable campaign donation to Kevin Calvey for Congress, also gave his brother an ownership share of the Russian Private Equity Fund. And when I say gave, I mean it was a gift. Kevin didn’t pay a ruble or dime for any piece of the company. Of course, when he sold his share, he earned $270K.
To keep his campaign afloat, Kevin loaned $250K from his personal funds. Those numbers are fairly close, don’t you think.
In fairness, The Oklahoman did a much better job of relaying these facts in a second article that spends more time explaining the way the Calvey brothers went around campaign finance law and other ways in which foreign entities infused cash.
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