The Oklahoman has contributed money to a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce initiative, which has donated $100,000 to the campaign opposed to State Question 744, raising questions about the newspaper’s impartiality in its coverage of the issue.
The newspaper revealed this information in a recent story about donations to the campaigns for and against SQ 744, which, if passed, would raise per-pupil spending to the regional average.
The Oklahoman has donated at least $1 million to Forward OKC III, an economic development initiative described on the chamber website as promoting ” a vibrant business environment, positively raising Greater Oklahoma City’s national and international image, and positioning the region for growing, expanding and attracting high quality jobs.”
I guess we can assume chamber officials don’t believe Oklahoma’s underfunded educational system has any impact on the city’s “national and international image.” The state ranks 49th in the nation and is last in the region when it comes to per-pupil spending.
Other companies who have donated $1 million or more to the chamber initiative are Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Devon Energy Corporation and OG&E Energy Corp, according to the site.
The newspaper story noted that OKC Forward III gave $100,000 to a campaign opposed to SQ 744 and mentioned The Oklahoman as a contributor to the chamber initiative.
The fact that the newspaper indirectly contributed money to the anti-744 campaign is not a big surprise given the newspaper’s historical track record to shamelessly push its own political agenda. In recent weeks, the newspaper’s editorial page has relentlessly criticized SQ 744 and those who support it. Undoubtedly, it will continue to do so.
The issue should, however, remind the state’s residents that there’s a growing perception that The Oklahoman simply can’t be trusted to report fairly when it comes to SQ 744. Yes, the newspaper story disclosed the newspaper’s donation information, but this disclosure by itself doesn’t guarantee or indicate impartial coverage. It would be best to read anything about SQ 744 in The Oklahoman with a cautious, skeptical eye.