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News from the Plains: All this RED can make you BLUE

In which the Tulsa World loses another piece of its soul
by Barry Friedman

For the love of Walter Lippmann ...

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing the first class of the Tulsa World Editorial Department's Community Advisory Board. The board was an idea that Publisher Bill Masterson brought with him to the newspaper, and it's a good one.
That's Wayne Greene, editorial pages editor of The Tulsa World, whose columns often drive a John Henry-like spike into American prose.

And, no, it's not a good idea--it's a bad one. A very bad one. The worst idea, in fact, since the last one Masterson had ... the one in which he listened to those in community who thought the paper was too far left.

The only people who think the Tulsa World is liberal are those who think Senator Jim Inhofe is right on global warming, believe State Representative Mike Ritze has no agenda in erecting a Ten Commandments Statue, and agree with U.S. Representative Jim Bridenstine on President Obama. You'd need to get your news from a shortwave radio, a tinfoil hat, and loose fillings to conclude The Tulsa World was some heartland version of The Nation.

The new group will gather once a year to critique how we have been speaking for the community in our editorial pages and select a handful of important topics that deserve closer scrutiny in the next 12 months.
Wayne, when you re-read that part you wrote, the part about how the group will critique your work and suggest story ideas, didn't you have a desire to remove your own bladder with a trowel? Don't you see the danger here?  First the press invites business and government into its newsroom and the next thing you know para-mutual security forces are patrolling Tulsa's streets in late-model Toyota trucks looking for women with wisps of hair out of place.

It gets worse.

The advisory board members also have agreed to write two op/ed pieces a year on any issue that they are passionate about.
They have company newsletters for this. Besides, when was the last time anyone from the Baptist Church called a World reporter and asked for his or her advice on its Boy Scouts or homosexual policy ... or the last time anyone from the financial sector called and said, "We sure would like to get y'alls take on derivatives"?
The 24 members of the board represent a broad snapshot of Tulsa. It has 11 Democrats, 11 Republicans and two independents.
Yes, we must have balance, all sides must be represented, all sides are equal. The teeter-totter must not hit the ground.

"President Bashar al-Assad, you've heard what your critics say about you. It must hurt. We'll give you the last word, sir."

The new group will gather once a year to critique how we have been speaking for the community in our editorial pages and select a handful of important topics that deserve closer scrutiny in the next 12 months.
Will they be bringing back the paper's soul when they come?

You want to give the community a voice, a place where captains of industry can share their unique (most often self-serving) perspective, there's already a place for that--it's called LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.

It's called an angry phone call.

The board members also will be acting as a sort of kitchen cabinet for me as the editorial pages editor. I'll be calling them for advice concerning issues in their field, and they can call me anytime to offer unsolicited suggestions.
I'm in the kitchen now, too, opening and closing the refrigerator door on my head.

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