Mitchell Talks and Red State Revolt are two good, but very different podcasts with different purposes.
But, what was similar in both experiences was that I went on answering questions as the founder/publisher of Free Press rather than asking questions as a reporter.
Here are the takeaways from each of these fine podcasts:
Long-time broadcaster Scott Mitchell had me on his flagship podcast, Mitchell Talks, a general news podcast that ranges over a number of topics.
His questions and comments made me realize that I really do know quite a bit about the Oklahoma City Public Schools for a couple of reasons.
One is that I’ve been covering the district as a beat for a while now, even before starting Free Press.
Many younger reporters, especially for broadcast, come and go because they are moving on in their career to that next market. And that’s not a criticism at all.
But, central Oklahoma is where I have been over the long haul as a reporter and before that, as a teacher for 16 years.
So, experience in education as a teacher, added to my increasing longevity as an education reporter gives me some unique perspectives on the situation of Oklahoma’s largest school district.
Red State Revolt
Red State Revolt is a very different podcast intended to influence thinking and shape the conversation.
Mark Faulk and Cate Howell are engaged in political action on what most Oklahoman’s would think of as the far left. But that’s mostly because Oklahoma is so far to the right.
I first met Mark Faulk when I covered the Lake Hefner oil/natural gas drilling protests a few years ago for another publication.
I’ve interviewed him and Cate many more times since because I cover so many protests.
Mark asked me a number of questions about Free Press and what I’m trying to do with it.
Being asked questions by an activist is a good experience because it lets me know how we are doing on fairness.
I’ve found that most activists on the left or right appreciate publications that work hard to be fair.
Mark helped me see that even though I have a definite – really, pretty obvious – point of view, my reporting is still seen as fair.
And, that’s what I’m after.
When news publications attempt “balance” they distort the news, because all issues and events don’t have only two sides that have equal weight.
When news publications attempt neutrality, they really don’t even get to the core of the news.
But, being fair to all the subjects of a story gets readers closer to understanding what’s going on in your city.
So, thank you to Scott Mitchell, Mark Faulk and Cate Howell for pushing me to define Free Press better and much more clearly think through where this is going.
It’s a process I need to continue as I get more comfortable in the role of publisher/editor.