Watch for changes in the Tulsa World with Warren Buffet

February 28, 2013
Charles Biggs

When I first went to work for the Tulsa World in 1978, I was hired as a reporter assigned to the Broken Arrow/Coweta Edition. Bob Haring, assistant managing editor and later executive editor, was the one who really hired me because the edition was sort of a project.

For the next six years, I spoke to Bob Lorton, the owner of the Tulsa World from time to time. The top editors made sure that the reporters understood that we could not go back to Lorton’s office without being summoned. That just was not done.

Six years later, I gave Haring my two-week notice and informed him that I was going to start a weekly paper in Glenpool (the Glenpool Post). He was very cordial and encouraging.

The next day, I was summoned to Lorton’s office.

Expecting something bad, I was pleasantly surprised at Lorton’s meeting with me. He was genuinely interested in my business plan and there was no hint of my competing with the big paper.

In fact, he offered me thousands of dollars to invest in the project for a percentage ownership. It seemed like a fair deal but I gracefully said no because I wanted this to be my project.

The Glenpool Post was a success but after three years, my wife and I started having children. We wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom, so we sold that newspaper. I went to work as a media consultant for several years.

In 1993, I talked with my friend U.S. Rep. Steve Largent. Steve was getting beaten regularly in the news coverage of the Tulsa World and we talked about starting a newspaper to compete with the Tulsa World.

Then I got a call from Lorton. He wanted to start a project called Community World. They would split Tulsa into six sections (later five) and each would get a weekly news supplement produced by a staff under my direction and control. The newsroom would have no say. I would hire and fire, determine salaries, lease offices and hold the title of department head.

I told Steve and he said I should take the job. It would give me a chance to have a Christian witness in a non-Christian workplace.

(I did share my Christian faith at the Tulsa World and that caused some tension among employess – not with Community World but in the main newsroom. I don’t hate the Lortons or any of those people and they have occasionally been in my prayers.)

I took that job and for seven years, I made a good bit of money for the Lorton Family. The World had tried zoned editions at least three times and failed miserably. Community World was successful financially and it was a big hit with subscribers – especially conservatives and Christians.

In 2000, the jealousy in the newsroom about my arrangement grew to the point that Bobby Lorton, Bob’s son, called me in and said that they were going to put me and Community World under the total control of the newspaper.

I quit.

It was getting harder and harder to work in an environment that was increasingly liberal (homosexuality, promiscuity, drug abuse, alcoholism – you name it, it was in that newsroom) and I sort of knew the end was coming.

Just a year or two after I left, they shut down Community World and laid off most of the staff. It was pretty heartless.

In 2001, Susan and I started the Tulsa Beacon, Tulsa’s family newspaper. I got a lot of negative feedback from some former friends at the Tulsa World. Some felt that I was disloyal to the Lorton Family for quitting and starting a competing newspaper. That’s hogwash. I was hired with a level of independence and they changed the rules. I owe them nothing.

Now the unthinkable has happened.

The Lortons have sold out to Warren Buffet. A good friend sent me an e-mail and asked me what this means. I wrote back that it means a local liberal family has been replaced by an even more liberal out-of-state billionaire who is one of the biggest supporter of Barack Obama – the most liberal and unchristian president in the history of the country.

What changes will Buffet make to the Tulsa World?

I don’t know. I can only speculate.

Look for prices for subscriptions and advertising to rise. They will probably lay off some employees – the ones with the longest tenure make the most money so they could be targeted. They will write editorials that are even more complimentary of Obama and will erase most criticism of this administration in their “news.”

How will this affect the Tulsa Beacon? Not much. It shouldn’t have any negative effects. The liberals at the World don’t like the Tulsa Beacon already. Maybe the new management won’t be antagonistic. Then again, they might really be nasty people. Who knows?

Actually, if the Tulsa World gets more liberal and more pro-Obama, it might drive more subscribers to our doorstep.

Tulsans, Oklahomans and Americans are fed up with this president and his grow-government policies.  And while daily papers are on the skids, weekly papers – including the Tulsa Beacon – are holding steady.

 

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