A New Frontier for Tulsa Media

by Michael Mason

Yesterday was an exciting day for Tulsa. Two reporters from Tulsa World, Ziva Branstetter and Cary Aspinwall, were named as Pulitzer finalists for their impressive reporting on Oklahoma’s execution fiasco. Then they, along with two other reporters, resigned from Tulsa World. Soon thereafter, Bobby Lorton, the former publisher of Tulsa World, announced plans for the May launch of a new media company in Tulsa.

This is great news for Tulsa. Lorton is challenging the empire his family helped to create, and has done it in the boldest of moves—by culling some of the Tulsa World’s top talent. Now, Tulsa stands to gain what so many other cities are losing: competing voices in media. As citizens, we’ll be treated to more viewpoints and greater coverage than this city has seen in decades. With all the handwringing over media’s future, Tulsans should be celebrating these changes.

But they should be doing more. Lorton’s new company, The Frontier, plans to launch with a subscription-only model. No advertising. It’s a big bet during a time when subscription-based services are plummeting around the nation—but it’s also a stirring, noble endeavor. An Oklahoma media company without ads and reporting that is supported by (and accountable to) its readers? Sign me up. I hope they sign you up, too.

No matter where your allegiances may lie, or on what end of the political spectrum you may fall, now’s the time to show your support. As part of your civic duty, subscribe to both Tulsa World and (when available) The Frontier. It’s at least as important as voting. You’ll be doing your city a favor, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be setting a model for the rest of the country.