National Newspaper Week 2021

Local newspapers are indispensable to their communities.

We get to keep the record and bear witness. If something big happens in Norman, hopefully you can find it in an old edition of The Transcript.

We get to tell the stories of our community, to chronicle and hopefully illuminate the day-to-day in local politics, business, sports, education and even festivals.

We also get to bring context and facts to a world where it’s increasingly easy to get news anywhere that says anything.

It’s that last function of local newsrooms that we want to highlight at the end of 2021’s National Newspaper Week, a week of recognition that ran Oct. 3-9 this year.

Facebook and Instagram pages push the content they know you’ll want to read; they dig us deeper into our pre-existing beliefs, using algorithms to figure out what you think and cater to that. We’re not here for that.

As a local newspaper, we strive to bring precision and thought to our language and to illuminate facts where misinformation is rampant. It makes the community better when papers help set the tone for valuing and promoting truth.

For example, we call what happened Jan. 6 an “insurrection” not as an opinion but as a factual description of the riot at the U.S. Capitol this year.

Calling candidates like Jackson Lahmeyer “far right” is not a decision we take lightly, but we do so because we believe it to be grounded in fact, based on his consistent espousal of Trumpian conspiracy theories.

We refer to the concept that the 2020 election was stolen as a conspiracy theory because national analysis and auditing has consistently found no major pattern of voter fraud or conspiracy.

All of these decisions and many, many more are conversations in our newsroom.

They’re not some mandate handed down by a force behind the curtain. They’re choices our editors and reporters make together based on fact and scientific or political consensus.

Unlike some of the unverified or slanted sources that social media platforms may send your way, we’re not some unknown force with no ties to your community — we’re your neighbors.

We’re under corporate ownership, but we get to make decisions about the coverage that comes out of our newsroom. We’re a small team, and you know us.

You may be in Emma’s Rotary club, or have conversations with Reese on Twitter, or talk to Mindy at city meetings every week, or meet Jeff when he comes into your business.

We build relationships not only because we love Norman and are invested in being part of this community but because we want you to know you can trust us.

These relationships allow us to do the best journalism that informs the community.

Just last month, we’ve exposed backroom conversations shaping the city ward redraw process, shown gaps in sexual assault reporting for University of Oklahoma students, compared the university’s COVID-19 policies to those at other Big 12 schools, highlighted how the expired eviction moratorium could further complicate Norman’s already-present eviction crisis and gave a preview of our U.S. representative’s plans for proposed bills and infrastructure vote.

We’re able to tell these stories because we’re in the community every day, working hard to accurately report them to the people they impact the most.

In community conversations, we’ve found that many people have questions about the processes behind our work, on everything from how and why we use the syndicated content from other outlets we do to how we decide what to cover.

That’s a blind spot in the industry; we don’t want to ask for your trust when you don’t know what we’re actually doing with our time or why we make the decisions we do.

Many of us have been doing journalism long enough that it’s second nature to us, and we don’t always remember that some concepts or lingo aren’t immediately clear beyond the industry.

We want to commit to answering and anticipating your questions when and where we can. If you ever have them and want to engage in a dialogue, shoot us an email at editor@normantranscript.com.

All of these things are just part of our daily duties and just part of what we think about when we’re putting together tomorrow’s paper or getting a story ready to publish online.

We strive to be a voice of truth and clarity this week and every week. We also want you to ask those questions and have those conversations with us when we don’t make it clear why we’re making the choices we are.

The Norman Transcript Editorial Board includes Publisher Mark Millsap, Editor Emma Keith and News Editor Max Bryan. For comments or questions, email editor@normantranscript.com.

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