I’ve done quite a few things in my life so far. And those experiences with unique people have made me who I am. They always influence my reporting and editorial decisions.
These are the different things that I have done in my life in chronological order:
- Farm hand for my farm family at Piedmont
- College student at Oklahoma City University
- Part-time Youth Director for three United Methodist churches while in college
- Regular weekly volunteer for Public Inebriate Alternative, a project of Neighborhood Services Organization in OKC in the 1970s
- Graduate student at Candler School of Theology, Emory University
- Department store clerk while in grad school
- Bus driver for Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority while in grad school
- Pizza delivery guy in Atlanta while in grad school
- United Methodist pastor for 14 years in various churches in Oklahoma
- Taxi cab driver in OKC for one year while going back to school
- Security guard
- Award-winning public school teacher in Oklahoma for 16 years (six of those teaching in alternative schools)
- Education issues blogger for two years while teaching in public school
- Online teacher for two years
- Part-time English as a Second Language teacher for OCCC for one year
- Freelance writer/reporter
- Founder – Oklahoma City Free Press
As you can imagine, this much variety of experience and study has produced a unique perspective for me.
From those various experiences, I’ve developed some views that will inform this new project.
First, people don’t always tell the truth.
But that doesn’t mean that they always set out to conjure a lie. It’s been my experience that more lies have been promoted out of unrealized prejudice than from clear intent. And those prejudices can be about race, class, economic status, gender or just about anything else.
Second, desperate people do desperate things.
If we want less desperate actions like murders, robberies, beatings, etc., the first step is to find the origin of the desperation, not just punish the action. Poverty, addictions, oppression based on race, gender or class all contribute to the desperation people experience daily.
Third, many of us can go far beyond the intellectual, emotional and spiritual place we are in at any given time.
But this seldom happens without some sort of push from beyond ourselves. Realization of a problem is the first step toward healing either inside of an individual, group, city, state or a whole nation.
So, these processes can be affected in a positive way by good reporting. The best reporting is exposure of something that is not fully seen, or completely hidden.
Some in the news business seem to assume that this kind of exposure through reporting is always about something big and harmful, like the sexual scandal in the Catholic Church in recent times, or the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.
Our society always needs more of that kind of reporting.
We also need to have the best in us exposed, which seldom happens. The harm done is that by not reporting achievement, we start developing policies based on misperceptions of people, and especially the most powerless in our society.
Sometimes we need to hear a gritty story of how someone or group survived, got it right, pressed on. But it isn’t reported because the people involved aren’t thought to be important enough.
Democracy needs these exposures of the good and the bad to keep its equilibrium.
The negative and the positive exposures will be my interest as I work. And as those stories come to light, I want them to influence how we make decisions about ourselves and toward each other.
Let me know what you think. And thank you for reading.