I’m the new editor of The Norman Transcript.
If you already know me, hello again.
If you don’t, I was Editor Andy Rieger’s first hire at the Transcript in 1996. He’d served as my faculty adviser while I was a working with a talented crew at the OU Daily, where I met my wife, Kim. I spent one summer working for the Ole John’s Liquor Store owners while interning at the alt-weekly Oklahoma Gazette.
After graduating from OU in 1993, I worked as sports editor at a south Oklahoma City publication while still living in Norman. Then Andy offered me my first daily newspaper reporting job.
At The Transcript, I worked on virtually every beat in community journalism: public schools, higher education, features, hard news and breaking news.
I covered the firing of John Blake and the hiring of Bob Stoops.
I advanced cornbread and bean luncheons.
I took a road trip with photographer Jerry Laizure for a sneak preview of the newly revamped Sooner Schooner. OU’s official mascot has special meaning to me as a fifth-generation Okie with family that squatted in a dugout near Turkey Creek in Garfield County.
I learned from many veteran Transcript journalists. I investigated construction issues with Norman North High School with reporter Omer Gillham. And I gleaned cops-and-courts expertise from Jane Glenn Cannon, an award-winning reporter described by Omer as “The Franchise.”
In 1999, Rieger and then-Publisher David Stringer allowed me to launch pop magazine. This weekly entertainment section was a true labor of love as I explored the 30th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s concert at the OU Field House.
On the night our daughter Kalina was born, co-worker Stefanie Brickman generously worked my layout shift. After a pit stop at Norman Regional Hospital, I managed to find the dogs boarding in Moore and beat the ambulance to the OKC hospital room.
I worked as desk editor on 9/11, laying out an extra print edition. I watched co-workers cry as the Twin Towers crumbled into rubble in real time on TV.
Before going into work that day, Kim and I watched the first tower smoldering on “The Today Show.” I remember getting an ominous feeling after covering the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.
As the father of a 6-month-old baby girl, I felt the world forever changed. Suddenly, interviewing rock bands before gigs didn’t seem as important anymore. I wanted to make a more meaningful difference as a journalist.
In 2002, I left The Norman Transcript to lead my own newsroom. After two years in Edmond, I became editor-in-chief at the Gazette until returning in 2012 to work for my hometown paper, the Enid News & Eagle.
My Enid role expanded into regional editor, sharing statewide content and working with CNHI State Reporter Janelle Stecklein. I continued to travel to Norman frequently, attending OU football games and serving on the OU Publications Board with fellow OU Daily alum Nick Jungman, the director of Student Media.
I’ve worked with Norman’s previous editors through the years. I’ve also served as Transcript editor on an interim basis in July and again since St. Patrick’s Day.
Now I am officially the Transcript’s lead editor.
Like I said, I’m back. In some ways, I never left.
Collins can be reached at email@example.com.