Rob Collins

Rob Collins, editor of The Norman Transcript.

A week ago, I announced my return to The Norman Transcript.

Now Publisher Mark Millsap and I are introducing The Transcript Editorial Board. We’ll take an editorial stance if we reach a consensus. Only then will we feel like we have something to lend to the conversation.

We had our first Editorial Board meeting a week ago in The Transcript conference room, with some attendees phoning in via social distancing.

Norman attorney Michael Ridgeway was the sole survivor of Norman’s last Editorial Board. Ridgeway, who serves with me on the Freedom of Information Oklahoma Board of Directors, got the ball rolling. 

Ridgeway reached out to Kathy Haney, artist, president-elect of The Auntie Project: Native Women of Service (Oklahoma) and daughter of Enoch Kelly Haney and Mary Haney. And Ridgeway recruited Brandi Coyner, curatorial associate at the Sam Noble Museum. Fortunately, they both agreed to join.

Haney suggested Nick Wu, and this wealth management advisor and talented artist is now on the Editorial Board.

In turn, Coyner invited Bianca Gordon, associate executive director at Bridges of Norman. Gordon, who has a Master of Arts in mass communication management and adjunct teaches public relations research and writing at OU, was my student when I taught Writing for Mass Media at OU from 1998 until 2012. 

In the 2000s, I got to know Keith Gaddie when he wrote commentary for me at Oklahoma Gazette. Gaddie, president's associates presidential professor at OU, invited Marc Nuttle, a Norman-based attorney, author, businessman and consultant who managed a presidential campaign and once ran the National Republican Congressional Committee. We are lucky to have both serve on our Editorial Board.

Publisher Millsap and I would like to thank all of these guest members for kindly offering their time and expertise. 

Our goal is to have a board that’s diverse in gender, race, age and ideology. We hope it serves as a sounding board, assembling eclectic ideas from distinctive perspectives that reflect the Norman community. 

If we write about problems, we will offer solutions. We’ll try to be succinct with small words, big ideas and short sentences.

No elected public officials will serve on our Editorial Board, and we don’t include staff reporters from The Transcript. But they may visit as weekly guests.

At times, we may tap Transcript beat reporters for additional facts to help us sharpen our editorial point of view. Or we may discover while meeting that we need to report more extensively on an issue before making an informed opinion.

Online, it’s the best of times and worst of times. It’s difficult for readers to discern between reliable and misleading information, regardless of political affiliation. 

Unfettered antisocial media reigns supreme. We’ve lost common ground for rational discussion. If we can’t agree on the basic facts, our republic is doomed. 

We take our role as the Fourth Estate seriously. Some editorials will be issue-oriented in our watchdog role, while others are more guide dog editorials that educate and provide public service. And show dog editorials celebrate or commend, building Norman’s community identity.

In our news coverage, The Transcript will emphasize verifying and documenting our reporting. We’ll transparently strive for truth and accountability through fact-checking and attribution, and we’ll admit when mistakes are made.

Our Opinion page will provide a community forum to discuss ideas devoid of personal attacks. It’s our civic responsibility to provide civil, public discourse. And this won’t be an echo chamber because we don’t agree with every personal column we publish.

Same goes for readers. You may disagree with a Transcript editorial or a personal column, and we welcome letters to the editor at less than 500 words.

Who knows? You may even want to join our Editorial Board in the future.

Collins can be reached at editor@normantranscript.com.

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