I learn from Sinister that Tulsa World covered the Join the Impact! event there with a pretty decent article. No shocker: it was a not insignificant news event in the city (300 in attendance) and the city’s NEWSpaper did a little writeup about it.
But the 300 that attended the corresponding rally in Oklahoma City (not to mention the thousands across the country) were ignored by the city’s paper — I no longer will incorrectly call it a “newspaper” but it is printed on paper, so at least that part’s true. Again, no surprise, because the Oklahoman habitually refuses to cover the news and events that come from the liberal or progressive end of the political spectrum. “Habitually refuses” is a nice way of saying they have conspired and are conspiring to erase our existence from their pages. It is the largest paper in the state (though shrinking rapidly! Yay!) and it still has a lot of influence in political and cultural arenas (again, less and less so thanks to the internet) so the conspiracy is not piddling, even as their overall status is being reduced.
The OKC event did get covered by a couple of local TV news teams, which is great, but that doesn’t lessen the harm done by being erased from history time and again by the Oklahoman.
Frankly, I’m fed up with it and am resolved to do something about it. I’m exploring several options — including boycotts, petitions, demonstrations. A meeting with the paper’s management is a good place to start, but without some kind of threat to their revenue, I wouldn’t expect such a meeting to have any effect — those people are ideological and have to be moved by other forces than an appeal to simple fairness.
I lived in Waco, Texas, for a while, and I guarantee you that that area is politically and culturally more conservative overall than Central Oklahoma, yet the newspaper there covered peace and justice events — and not just during the nearby Camp Casey action in August 2005, but before that and well after. We might have liked more expansive and positive coverage, and they didn’t cover every single thing we did — no one expects that. But we regularly got a photo of an action — even if only four or five people participated. But they didn’t ignore our press releases, or refuse to send a camera person and/or reporter when they had one available, or keep the fact of our existence and work hidden from their readers. They covered the fucking news that was happening in their community!
Thankfully, the Web gives citizens the opportunity to participate in a new kind of journalism that is rising from the grassroots. Old media is losing this battle because they don’t or can’t adjust to new realities. They are making attempts to use the Internet, but struggling to find a successful method to make it profitable.
So if the Oklahoman wants to continue their march to obsolecence, they can continue to alienate a significant portion of their community by being ideological and reactionary beyond all reason. I’ll dance on their grave, but in the meantime, I expect them to function as the newspaper they purport to be and once in a while cover events their owners and editorial board don’t necessarily endorse.
Oh, and the effing letters to the editor situation is also now on the table. Enough! We’re not going to take it anymore!
I know that we all complain about the Oklahoman and that those who’ve lived here a lot longer than I have maybe just become resigned to the status quo. I hope that we can all band together at this vulnerable moment for the Oklahoman‘s bottom line, and make the changes we need happen. Yes, we can!
Stay tuned, I will elaborate about some action steps on this in the near future.