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The Worst Newspaper in America
Columbia Journalism Review ^ | January/February 1999 | Bruce Selcraig

Posted on 04/28/2003 11:36:10 AM PDT by cashion

part 1 of 5

by Bruce Selcraig

Selcraig is a former U.S. Senate investigator and staff writer for Sports Illustrated who lives in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at selcraig@ccsi.com

One Sunday morning many months ago the Rev. Robin Meyers stood before some five-hundred members of his eclectic flock at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and ruminated about what he might do if he ever won a lottery jackpot. "I said I would give a lot of money to education, children, the homeless, that sort of thing," he recalls. "Then I mentioned that if there were any money left over I would start what this city really needs -- a competing daily newspaper to The Daily Oklahoman . . . Well, everyone just started applauding. The place went wild. And this is not a wild church. Even the Republicans were clapping."

That same Sunday, like every day in Oklahoma City, a group of news-starved citizens ranging between five thousand and ten thousand, depending upon the quality of the football season, bought what many here call the most respected daily newspaper in town -- a paper produced two-hundred miles away, The Dallas Morning News.

"I simply won't subscribe to The Daily Oklahoman. They skew the news," says one of the local defectors, junior college professor Frank Silovsky.

"I'm always encouraging my students to read newspapers," says former Oklahoman city editor Randy Splaingard, a journalism professor at Oklahoma City University, "but I never require that they read the Oklahoman. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment."

"I have to read it," says Oklahoma Democratic political consultant and former Oklahoma City reporter Mike Carrier, "but it is without question the worst metropolitan newspaper in America."

Maybe you could find critics like these in any American city where an influential newspaper and billionaire publisher reign, but it's doubtful they could match the fervor of these aggrieved Oklahomans, these Democrats and Republicans of all colors and classes, ranchers, teachers, oil executives. They live with a civic wound that's been festering for twenty-five years, a newspaper whose unflattering nickname has become so ingrained in the state lexicon that from Muskogee to Guymon hardly a literate soul doesn't know of "The Daily Disappointment."

What other major newspaper in a metro area of one million people, and with a newsroom of 145 full-time reporters and editors, has only three African-Americans on its news staff?

Where else can you find a big-city editorial page -- run by a Christian Coalition devotee plucked from Washington D.C.'s right-wing Free Congress Foundation -- that not only demonizes unions, environmentalists, feminists, Planned Parenthood, and public education, but also seems obsessed with lecturing gays? From an Oklahoman editorial titled, sin no more?: "There's no solid proof that anyone is born a homosexual . . . . Homosexuality is a sin . . . . But to deny that a sin is a sin and wallow in it is the first step toward damnation. To recognize bad behavior as a sin, repent of it and ‘go and sin no more' is the first step toward salvation."

Want lots of enterprising, in-depth stories with plenty of world and national news in your newspaper's front section? How about praline recipes instead?

At the Oklahoman, which runs a front-page prayer every day, the news-lite front section is larded with cooking contests, horoscopes, Dear Abby, Billy Graham, Zig Ziglar, and women's fashion tips. Need a good chuckle? Try the six-day-a-week column on page two by "clean, keen, and topical" stand-up comedian Argus Hamilton, the son of an Oklahoma City Methodist minister. Hold on to your funny bone:

A whale is dead after a whale-watching boat hit it Monday off Boston Harbor . . . no wonder Monica Lewinsky won't come out of her apartment . . . .

(Excerpt) Read more at cjr.org ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Oklahoma
KEYWORDS:
I realize this article is slightly dated, but I thought with recent events (specifically Mr. Gaylord's death) that my fellow Oklahomans wouldn't mind helping shoot down some of the ridiculousness found in this article. After enjoying Easter dinner with family, somehow the subject of the Daily Oklahoman came up. I was informed by my younger brother (a soon-to-be graduate from Oklahoma State University in Journalism) that the Daily Oklahoman is the worst paper in the U.S. I had somewhat recalled the CJR article, though asked if he could give a basis for his remarks. He seems to think that this article signifies a "study" on the issue, and takes the whole thing as the truth without questioning the motives of the author. This was quickly followed by his girlfriend with a "yeah, it's really true, they did a study."

If this is what is accepted as journalism at Oklahoma State University, I'd hate to think what is going on across the country.

To get things started, I'd like to point out that any article starting with Dr. Robin Meyers as some sort of "voice of reason" is headed in the wrong direction. Dr. Meyers is well-known for his hatred of the Daily Oklahoman, not to mention his status as an ultra-bleeding-heart liberal.

I'll add in more points as time permits.

1 posted on 04/28/2003 11:36:10 AM PDT by cashion
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I did in fact read the whole article and it's all a bunch of B.S. and C.F. Obviously, these people writing this B.S. and C.F. have never had real jobs in their lives and do not know what real life is like. If they did, they'd look at things differently.

Oklahoma is a conservative majority state. We voted for Bush in 2000 and we voted for Right to Work in 2002. Our values are conservative. Anyone who says otherwise is a bald faced pathological liar and there are some BFPL's amongest us.

The values that Edward Gaylord held are the values that are shared by the vast majority of Oklahomans. I know this for a fact because I'm a lifelong resident of this state. I know the people here a whole more that these A**holes at Columbia.

It's quite obvious these people have not done their homework. To expect us to believe that the values of this great state are the same as the values of Hollywood and the progressive movement is stupid, idiotic and foolish.

I had no idea until reading that article how stupid the CJR is but they are sure stupid as stupid is.
Regards.

2 posted on 04/28/2003 11:54:53 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: cashion
If you take a look at the graphic of the Daily Oklahoman they have provided, you'll see a headline in the top right corner that says "Cash Infusion Reported for Roberts Campaign". I imagine this is the type of story the libs are complaining about. Some of those cash infusions led to the resigning of Oklahoma State Senator Gene Stipe (DEM) after 50-some years in office.
3 posted on 04/28/2003 11:58:31 AM PDT by cashion
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To: cashion
Come from the other part of the State -- live in Norman where Mr. Gaylord and his Family have contributed over $22 million to build a new Journalism College building on the University of Oklahoma campus.

When they held the groundbreaking recently his daughter talked about what her Dad wanted for the school and when President Boren spoke he assured the Gaylord Family that the right wing of the new Journalism College would be much larger than the left wing. Mr. Gaylord wanted a Journalism College in this Country that Ethics in Journalism was the number 1 goal to turn out first rate reporters that told the news without spin.

I can remember when Mr. Gaylord accepted this award from the Columbia School of Journalism with pride because The Daily Oklahoman won it because they have the most conservative editorial page in the Country. Doesn't get any better than that. Says a lot about the lack of ethics and integrity of the Columbia School of Journalism.

Will take The Daily Oklahoman over any paper in this Country I have read and we have lived all over. Best editorial page in the Country and now that Editor is going to be in charge of the entire paper which suits me just fine!



4 posted on 04/28/2003 12:00:34 PM PDT by PhiKapMom (Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US)
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To: cashion
This article is a big disappointment. From the headline I thought it was about the Philadelphia Inquirer (which appears to be having some money problems despite being the only metro daily in the 5th largest market, heh heh)
5 posted on 04/28/2003 12:06:35 PM PDT by Tribune7
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To: PhiKapMom
Will take The Daily Oklahoman over any paper in this Country I have read and we have lived all over. Best editorial page in the Country and now that Editor is going to be in charge of the entire paper which suits me just fine!

The Editor covered in the article, Patrick McGuigan, is no longer with the paper. He raised a little too much rukus with state legislators before the last statewide election and was asked by Gaylord to step down.

6 posted on 04/28/2003 12:08:57 PM PDT by cashion
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To: cashion
You forgot the BARF ALERT for this leftist bilge!

Reading the title, I thought this article was referring to the New York Times.

7 posted on 04/28/2003 12:09:24 PM PDT by bassmaner (Let's take back the word "liberal" from the commies!!)
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To: cashion
I recently moved to Tulsa, yet still get the Oklahoman. The Tulsa World is terrible. When I hear people talk about "the Daily Dissapointment", I either assume that they are Liberal Morons, or they are just parroting what they have heard others say.
8 posted on 04/28/2003 12:20:49 PM PDT by Charlie OK
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To: cashion
I gather Mr. Selcraig and the folks he talked to have never read the Los Angeles Times.
9 posted on 04/28/2003 12:25:11 PM PDT by RichInOC (I read the op-ed page every Tuesday to see Bob Scheer hopping and screeching like the Rally Monkey.)
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To: cashion
The Columbia School of Journalism has a lot to apologize for.
10 posted on 04/28/2003 12:54:43 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: bassmaner
You forgot the BARF ALERT for this leftist bilge!

I didn't forget, I just have a personal view that adding "barf alert" to a headline is outside my realm of neatness. I think most folks here are smart enough to realize when an author is trying to feed them garbage and are able to respond accordingly. 8)

11 posted on 04/28/2003 1:14:02 PM PDT by cashion
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To: cashion
Robin Meyers is the "minister" who had an ad on radio last year at Christmastime that said words to the effect of 'it's OK if it helps you to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin'.

Meyers is a regular contributor from the extreme fringe left, to the local alternate newspaper, The Gazette, which proudly runs advertisements from local massage parlors, nudie bars, and places to go if you need "clean" urine for a drug test.

12 posted on 04/28/2003 1:15:40 PM PDT by Treebeard
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To: cashion
An interesting and revealing piece. Not about The Daily Oklahoman- but about CJR. It reveals their biases and prejudices unintentionally. The first hint something was dreadfully wrong with this "criticism" was the mentioning of the "underrepresentation" of minorities and the "lack of interest" in recruiting minority staffers. For CJR and other "professional journalists" quotas and racialist hirining pratcies are what all "Good" papers should do. OF course they don't call them quotas or would refer to themselves as racialists- that is what such policies amount too in most major papers and they serve as de facto silencers on certain issues.

Then this article mentions that the Dialy Oklahoman doesn't ("snicker") even have a full time enviornmental issues reporter! Oh- the the horror. A pet cause of liberals and the left doesn't have a full time reporter devoted to propagating it's laughable and false stats and "Studies" as the unvarnished truth? Oh- how "biased!"

The rest of the article merely seems aimed at liberal and "progressive" elitist types who recoil at the mentioning of Jesus at even so much as a funeral and is laced with class and regional prejudices.

The paper obviously has a conservative and Republican bias. IS that the beef? Any paper worth it's salt should have a recognizable bias.

CJR could find far more people in Boston who have the exact same gripes and complaints about the Boston Globe and write almost the same article. The only difference would be that at the Boston Globe their "minority recruitment" efforts amount to a chill and self censorship on matters of race (or gender- or homosexuals).

The Boston Globe- has it's flaws- it's biases- it's prejudices- and it's petty ideologies. It has it's sacred cows that it simply will never say a bad word about. But it still is capable of some truly great reporting (the Bulger- FBI scandal and the Church Pedophile stories being recent ones.)

I know as a reader what the Boston Globe is all about when reading it. I suspect so do most Daily Oklahoman readers know as well where that paper is coming from.

IF the market was there for a competing paper one would exist.

The jist of this article isn't that the DO is a bad paper- but that it is a conservative one. And that, CJR doesn't like.

13 posted on 04/28/2003 1:16:36 PM PDT by Burkeman1 (B)
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To: cashion
What other major newspaper in a metro area of one million people, and with a newsroom of 145 full-time reporters and editors, has only three African-Americans on its news staff?

Yeah, better add them since Black-on-White racial hate-crimes are on the rise in OK. What a despicable "critique" this is.

14 posted on 04/28/2003 1:24:29 PM PDT by montag813
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To: cashion
Worst Newspaper in America? The author has obviously never read the Lansing State Journal...

MD
15 posted on 04/28/2003 1:51:57 PM PDT by MikeD (Why yes, I AM a rocket scientist!)
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To: RichInOC
Or the San Fran Chronicle, or any of the Gannett papers or USA Today---all are leftist papers with a really bad bias. The Oklahoma paper sounds like one I would read and enjoy. The libs are complaing about right-wing bias? That's a laugher, given the majority of papers these days are biased far leftwards.
16 posted on 04/28/2003 1:59:16 PM PDT by Paulus Invictus (ax accountant)
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To: bassmaner
I thought it was about The Los Angeles Times....what a disappointment. :(

Red

17 posted on 04/28/2003 2:03:20 PM PDT by Conservative4Ever (got the new computer, touch pad, keyboard learning blues)
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To: RichInOC
You and I are on the same wave lenght. LA Times wise that is.

Red

18 posted on 04/28/2003 2:04:42 PM PDT by Conservative4Ever (got the new computer, touch pad, keyboard learning blues)
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To: PhiKapMom
You know, nothing quite gets liberal urinalists as upset as a gap in their monopoly. Having grown up with (and cancelled my subscription to with the parting words "If I want to read Pravda I can download it from the net") a local paper called the Beacon Journal (aka the Reakin' Urinal) I have no problem with a paper which openly takes the other side. There are far too few and if there were more the newspaper business would be in better shape.
19 posted on 04/28/2003 2:14:34 PM PDT by katana
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To: cashion
What other major newspaper in a metro area of one million people, and with a newsroom of 145 full-time reporters and editors, has only three African-Americans on its news staff?

If diversity and its attendant issues are what the author craves he should subscribe to the SJ Mercury. Its about the only topic thats worthy of the Merc's pages.

20 posted on 04/28/2003 2:29:39 PM PDT by skeeter (Fac ut vivas)
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To: katana
We have an alternative here locally for the liberals -- the few that there are -- the leftist Norman Transcript! Refuse to read their editorial page, but I take the paper for the Sports section and local Norman news.

If I had to give up a paper, it would never be The Oklahoman which is my favorite paper!

21 posted on 04/28/2003 6:30:45 PM PDT by PhiKapMom (Get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US)
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FBI has been told? May have been illegal? The FBI dropped its investigation after seven months, finding nothing to warrant charges. The newspaper justifies its treatment of Walters by pointing out that he later pleaded guilty to a minor violation of campaign contribution limits.

Talk about glossing over the real story. Walters was being charged with 8 felony counts by the grand jury and cut a deal for a single misdemeanor charge with the state's attorney general (Susan Loving), the same one he appointed to office. No, that doesn't look bad at all.

22 posted on 04/29/2003 10:02:20 AM PDT by cashion
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To: cashion
I nominate The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the worst liberalpuke newspaper in the country.
23 posted on 04/29/2003 10:07:40 AM PDT by Ciexyz
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In the following issue to the one containing this article, here was Ms. Sue Hale's contribution to CJR's "letters" section:

Selcraig's article is a textbook example of biased and unbalanced reporting. It is no secret that The Daily Oklahoman has a conservative editorial page. So Selcraig zeros in on liberals to provide a large dose of criticism of the newspaper. Where's the other side of the story?

It is obvious that he did not seriously research coverage of the Federal Building bombing or interview the editors and reporters who produced it despite the devastating loss of family members and friends. They do not need a Pulitzer Prize to tell them they did a good job.

Selcraig suggests that the newspaper is reluctant to hire minorities. That is not the case. The problem is a lack of minority applicants, which managing editor Ed Kelley has attempted to remedy. He has recruited frontline editors and reporters to serve as mentors to minority high school and college students.

All newspapers have room to grow, and so does the Oklahoman. But this story raises more questions about the integrity of the author and CJR than it does about an award-winning newspaper in the heartland of America.

Sue Hale
Former assistant managing editor
The Daily Oklahoman
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
24 posted on 04/29/2003 10:30:11 AM PDT by cashion
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