Oklahoma Media Center (OMC) is a collaborative of print, digital, and broadcast newsrooms working cooperatively to cover pressing issues facing the public.
OMC’s mission is to support and strengthen Oklahoma’s local journalism ecosystem and spur innovation through statewide collaboration that benefits diverse audiences.
In 2021, OMC media collaborators selected the name “Promised Land: A Supreme Court decision places Oklahoma at a crossroads” for a shared topic. The collaborative is covering the affirmation of tribal sovereignty after the Supreme Court ruling in 2020.
The Native American Journalists Association has collaborated with OMC to provide training on ethical coverage of Indigenous issues for journalists throughout the state, including a virtual “Check Your Bias” roundtable. The Oklahoma-based NAJA provided ethics and best-practices training on reporting about Indigenous issues.
NAJA then awarded OMC a $40,000 project fee to cover labor, data access and other research expenses associated with measuring the impact of the Indigenous training.
In 2022, OMC distributed NAJA’s project fee to its news organizations producing collaborative coverage of subjects ranging from mental health, marginalized voices or corrections issues in Oklahoma. OMC collaborators described these new projects with show-and-tell updates in monthly meetings.
Since launching in 2020, OMC has grown to more than 25 Oklahoma journalism collaborators, including newspapers, broadcasters and digital news outlets:
The Black Wall Street Times, the Cherokee Phoenix, CNHI Oklahoma, Curbside Chronicle, The Frontier, Gaylord News, Griffin Communications, HolaOK, KFOR, KGOU, KOSU, The Lawton Constitution, Moore Monthly, Mvskoke Media, the Native American Journalists Association, NonDoc, The O’Colly, Oklahoma City Free Press, The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma Gazette, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma Watch, Osage News, StateImpact Oklahoma, Streetlight, Telemundo Oklahoma, Tulsa World, University of Oklahoma Student Media and VNN.
Additional collaborator resources for Oklahoma journalists include expanded support from the Local Legal Initiative, with Kathryn Gardner joining the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press as an attorney based in Oklahoma, and a centralized database of open records requests created by Freedom of Information Oklahoma.
The Journalist’s Resource from Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, a Harvard University research center, has collaborated with OMC to share resources to help journalists understand and cover stories related to the landmark SCOTUS case.
This project is funded by the Inasmuch Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Kirkpatrick Foundation. OMC is managed by the Local Media Foundation. After committing to fund the collaborative through this calendar year, Inasmuch Foundation recently made a significant new investment as the collaborative transitions to 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The funding is providing a team to lead the journalism efforts — a project manager and a data journalist. LMA is managing the business transformation strategy, working with all OMC media collaborators on their business performance, and providing training and one-on-one coaching. The funding covers the creation of this website and filing for nonprofit status. OMC announced the formation of its board of directors and election of officers in January 2022.
• Professional news media organizations: Defined as persons possessing and exercising journalism skills, which are not affiliated with elected officials, lobbyists, special interest groups, partisan political parties or groups, or public relations organizations, and which adhere to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.
• Ownership: OMC will not accept collaborators owned by companies or entities engaged in partisan political activities.
• Opinion: Collaborators that produce opinion journalism are permissible as long as that is not their sole purpose, and also do traditional reporting. Opinion content should be clearly designated as such.
• Frequency: Frequency of publishing must meet OMC MOU requirements.
• Affiliates: Affiliate collaborators may be considered on a project-by-project basis and would be considered temporary collaborators.
• Geography: An OMC collaborator must either have a physical presence in the state or have a significant part of its coverage area in Oklahoma.
• Work product: Individual collaborators are responsible for their own content and such independent work may not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the OMC collaboration.
2021 Innovation Fund
In May 2021, 12 stipends were awarded to 14 news organizations in the first wave of the Oklahoma Media Center 2021 Innovation Fund.
Inasmuch Foundation provided $100,000 to start the Innovation Fund through the Local Media Foundation, which is executing this program designed to test new business models and find new ways to engage and reach diverse audiences.
In 2020, the new collaborative focused first on developing and sharing local and regional news content related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on communities in Oklahoma. OMC also provides business development resources for collaborating organizations.
The OMC collaborators developed a 2020 set of topic ideas, within the overall education scope, for initial investigation and reporting, including:
● Technology and the digital divide
● Curriculum and teaching approach
● Extracurricular activities and socialization
● Funding and spending
● Physical and mental health
● Effects of housing dislocation
● Effects on nontraditional education modes
To get in contact with Oklahoma Media Center, please reach out to Rob Collins, project manager, at email@example.com