Let’s all forget about The Oklahoman’s struggles as they move downtown…

oklahoman sign

As a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably aware that I like to criticize The Oklahoman from time to time. Let’s be honest, it’s not too hard. If anything, it illustrates how insanely lazy I am:

“Hey Patrick, want to do something meaningful and productive with your life?”

“Nah! I’m just going to sit here and eat cheese, watch Comedy Central and mock The Oklahoman. After that, I’m going to play Madden in Rookie mode, boil an egg and make fun of the Oklahoma legislature.”

It really is too easy. This is a newspaper that employs Jenni Carlson, employed Zeke Campfield, endorsed Janet Barresi and exposed its own sad demise over coffee. They called Kevin Durant “Mr. Unreliable,” can’t even properly ripoff Buzzfeed, and despite having a well-deserved reputation as one of the most biased, vengeful and politically active newspapers in the country, they went with “The State’s Most Trusted News” as a marketing slogan, which then allowed us to mockingly call them “The State’s Most Trusted News” in every post where we expose how untrustworthy they are.

“The State’s Most Trusted News” thing has always cracked me up. If you want an example of The Oklahoman’s interpretation of “trusted news,” take a look at the paper’s highly publicized move back to downtown Oklahoma City.

On the surface, it looks like a positive event and the paper is reporting it as such. They’ve already had Boomer Tramel write an ode to the new offices, and earlier this week, the Editorial Board chimed in with this

Thomas Wolfe had it wrong. You can go home again.

The Oklahoman did so these past two weeks, as we moved into our new office building downtown. After 24 years working at the tower located at Britton Road and the Broadway Extension, we’re now smack dab in the heart of this great city, at 100 W Main.

People who return to their childhood homes are always struck by how much smaller the place seems. The opposite is true in this case – downtown Oklahoma City is far bigger and better than it was when we pulled up stakes in 1991.

The main entrance to our building is on Robinson Avenue, across the street from the grand Colcord Hotel. The Devon Energy tower is just a little ways west of us. If they wanted, our sports writers and photographers could walk the one block to Chesapeake Energy Arena to cover the Thunder — neither the building nor the NBA team existed the last time we were here.

Across the street to our east are the Renaissance hotel and the Continental Resources headquarters, each new since last we worked downtown. The Skirvin Hotel, just up Broadway a few blocks, is bustling again. It was shuttered when we moved north.

The list of changes goes on and on. We’re delighted to add to it by returning home. We look forward to the city’s continued growth, and to many years of doing what we can to help make Oklahoma a better place to live, work and raise a family.

It really is a great narrative. The proud newspaper returning home to its urban roots at a growing city’s core. They have a new video board to show advertisements, fancy studios for David Morris to shoot videos, and nice fluorescent lighting. There’s even a “Timeline of Sadness” in the newsroom to remind employees of all the depressing tragedies they’ve covered over the years:

oklahoman wall

Yikes, I’m sure that puts employees in a great mood each morning. There’s nothing like a good tragedy to inspire you to rewrite energy company press releases. That would be like me draping pics of Emily Sutton and her fiancé, Michael, all over my ceiling.

Anyway, despite The Oklahoman’s best attempt to make you think otherwise, this move isn’t all lollipops and sunshine. It’s actually representative of the paper’s rapid decline. After a decade of shrinking subscriptions, falling revenues and several rounds of layoffs, the Dark Tower off Broadway Extension was no longer needed. It was too big. The newspaper had to move to something smaller. It’s like they are the retired couple leaving the empty nest in North Edmond for a nice little condo in Hefner Village that’s more in tune with their budget.

Also, it’s no coincidence that the paper laid off several longtime employees, eliminated 18 total positions, and cut the paper’s stand-alone Metro and State sections a week or two before the move. They did this for a couple of reasons. For one, it makes logistical sense. If you’re going to downsize you should probably do it before you move to a new office. Two, what’s the best way to make people forget about bad news? Pump and promote artificial good news, like moving into a smaller building at the city’s core.

Of course, you can’t really blame The Oklahoman for glossing over reality and spinning this move into a positive–they’ve been doing it for the energy industry for years! Hell, I’d do the same thing. You can’t admit to your advertisers, customers and competitors that you’re struggling. Plus, even if it’s not under the best circumstances (like say your dad losing his job or Owl’s house being blown down on a blustery day), a move to a smaller home is exciting in its own unique way.

So on that note, I guess I’ll just play along and congratulate The Oklahoman for the move. I’m actually happy they moved downtown. That’s where our city’s largest newspaper belongs. I’ll miss jokes about the Dark Tower, but with that new video billboard lighting up downtown with advertisements, I’m sure it will be easy to find a replacement. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some cheese and play Madden.