by Gene Perry
This is an experiment, but it’s a good time for experiments.
A couple of months ago, The Oklahoma Gazette reported that only one reporter, from OETA, visits the capitol building every day. They wrote that the total number of journalists covering our state government is in the teens, compared to 39 reporters in 1978. In the past few years, every major newspaper in Oklahoma has either folded or had large staff cutbacks, and most radio and television stations have eliminated or dramatically reduced their news operations. The result is a press that increasingly relies on PR releases for its news and lacks the capacity to seek out stories that powerful people don’t want us to hear.
The picture is not entirely bleak. The Internet has created an outlet for millions of new voices who otherwise would never be heard by a mass audience. Though journalism institutions are ailing, people have access to more news than ever before, when The New York Times, the BBC, and a myriad other news sources big and small are just a click away.
Yet while these sites can bring us news from all over the world, they offer little or no coverage of community events. Is it any wonder that many people know more about national and world affairs than what’s going on in their own neighborhoods, in their own state and local governments?
Oklahoma’s media landscape also fails to represent the diversity of opinions, peoples and cultures in our state. We know that Oklahoma is home to many whose views fall outside what is portrayed in commercial media. The Voices of Oklahoma Project seeks to shine a light on those perspectives that typically go unseen.
We won’t promise to objectively report the news – we doubt such a thing is even possible. All reporters bring their own perspectives and biases to what they write, whether they admit it or not. But we do promise to be fair, honest, and transparent. We will tell you what we found, how we found it, and what we think about it, and we will strive to make sure our points of view are well backed up by research and original reporting.
There is one particular bias that we’re especially proud to admit. We support civic engagement. We want to make it easier for the people working to improve our community to publicize their efforts and connect with allies. We also support the art, music, and other creative ventures of people living in central Oklahoma. We want to showcase the talent that exists right here.
If you’re still not satisfied – if you know of an issue that’s not being covered or a perspective that’s not being heard – then head on over to the contributors’ page. This experiment won’t succeed without your help.