David Stringer became publisher of The Norman Transcript in 1997, and his resignation was announced in a very brief article on April 29. Another article, also notable for its lack of significant background information, appeared in the Oklahoma Gazette, authored by Jack Willis (Commentary, “Corporate America, take heed: Publishers should be local”), on May 12.
The Norman Transcript is owned by CNHI, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. According to its websites, CNHI was founded in 1997, it is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., it is soon to move to Montgomery, and it owns newspapers in 150 communities in the United States. Its ownership in Oklahoma includes 14 daily and seven non-daily publications, more than in any other state.
CNHI seems to represent part of a transformation of the newspaper industry. Decades ago, newspaper publishers were usually owners of the newspaper and local citizens. Thus, from the 1960s to mid-1980s, Harold Belknap was owner and publisher of The Norman Transcript. Today, the interim publisher is Keith Ponder, manager of CNHI’s Great Plains Division.
Why did Stringer resign? Was he pushed out? If so, why? Probably not because of financial failures, because Transcript business is up nearly 3 percent, according to an item recently published there.
We should be concerned, because Oklahoma citizenry is already suffering in ignorance with selective reporting and misreporting of important news. Does the departure of Stringer represent reinforcement of information control by corporations whose agendas don’t always reflect public and national welfare?