Emma Keith

Allow me to reintroduce myself.

If you’ve been reading The Transcript for a bit, you may know me as our education reporter or, during the last year, as our COVID-19 reporter.

This week, I’m officially taking on a new role as our editor. It’s a job I’ve already been doing from behind the scenes for a bit now. Like many of you, The Transcript has had a tumultuous year. In the spaces between leadership, I have helped fill the gap to make sure we’re still doing our due diligence in covering our city.

I want you to hear more about the kind of newsroom I envision, but first, I want you to know a little about me.

I’m not new to Norman and its issues. I’ve covered Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma for The Transcript since October 2019.

A few months before I joined this newsroom, I worked a semester as editor-in-chief of The OU Daily’s newsroom just a few minutes away, capping off four years at OU and three-and-a-half years with the student publication.

In my few years in journalism, I’ve done stints in Washington, D.C., Detroit and Phoenix. Norman is a chosen home for me; my family lives in Texas, but this city and state are where I feel drawn.

I’m tremendously excited to do this job in a full-time capacity and excited to tell you about the kind of place I want to create.

I want to bring back a newsroom that is essential to its community, that tells stories that answer questions and prompt solutions or change, as I know past Transcript editors have done before me.

“Essential” doesn’t mean stories will always be about subjects you agree with; it means each story is, in some way, of service to some part of the community.

“Essential” means fair and balanced, but it doesn’t mean every single voice gets to be heard. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and hate have no place gaining a platform in our pages. Sometimes we’ll tell stories about hateful things that happen in our city, but from this position, I won’t be giving power or voice to bigotry.

I don’t necessarily seek to make a more unified or harmonious Norman from this position. “Unity” at the cost of silencing our most marginalized citizens is not unity; it is suppression.

I want to help foster a more honest Norman. Part of being “essential” means uplifting voices that have felt downtrodden or unseen for years — not the voices of people who already have power and platform, but the voices of the most disenfranchised and unheard.

My work will never be perfect. Sometimes I’ll slip up; I ask that you hold me accountable and let me know when that happens.

I want to encourage respectful conversation in our community and between myself and readers. Come to me with your issues or questions or ideas and let’s talk them through.

The Transcript is a Norman institution; it’s the oldest business in town. The last year has been tough on this newsroom, but I’m here to ensure that it doesn’t become an institution of the past, a once-great paper that becomes irrelevant as the news industry barrels forward.

In all ways — from our website, to our social media, to our physical paper — The Transcript should be an institution that’s of service and support to its community, even when the stories we’re telling reveal hard truths or uncomfortable divisions in Norman.

The Transcript — and by extension, me — is here for you.

Emma Keith is the editor of The Transcript, and covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma. Reach her at ekeith@normantranscript.com or at @emma_ckeith.

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Emma Keith covers the coronavirus pandemic and education for The Norman Transcript, with a focus on Norman Public Schools and The University of Oklahoma. She is a 2019 OU graduate.