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In The Know | Commentary | Oklahoma City

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I suppose it’s time to introduce ourselves.

I’m Matt Dinger, the new editor-in-chief. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, I come from a news background, having spent more than a decade at The Oklahoman covering just about everything in limited fashion but specializing in crime reporting and news features. I started writing about cannabis for the Gazette in October of 2018 and for a year was the managing editor of Extract, our monthly medical cannabis publication, before COVID-19 brought that project to a screeching halt in March 2020. I continued to write for every issue of Oklahoma Gazette that was published before production on the paper also finally halted in December.

And I’m Bryan Hallman, the new publisher of Oklahoma Gazette. I’m also an Oklahoma native who has lived all over the state. I began my career in social work and special education before moving into media. I have more than 20 years of business management experience under my belt and have worked for local, regional and national media companies in both radio and print. I have three adult children. If you’d like to reach me for questions or comments, please email publisher@okgazette.com.

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PHILLIP DANNER

All right. That’s out of the way. Dinger here.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic was brutal on many small businesses and ours is no exception. We halted publication in December, unsure of when we would return. Well, here we are.

We hit the ground running again with a very small staff, less than half we had when the pandemic decimated live events and businesses where the public gathers, which is our bread and butter. We are rebuilding rapidly, but please excuse our dust.

I personally penned the majority of the first two issues while re-establishing connections with writers. You will see some familiar names in upcoming issues, some of whom wrote for us last year and others who wrote for us years ago. It’s been said that half of this city has published a piece in the Oklahoma Gazette. Now I’d like to publish the other half. You will see us write about things that we have not in the past and you will not see others that we have historically covered. Don’t worry though. The horoscopes and puzzles are safe.

I spent the previous 15 months under nearly complete lockdown and as I ventured out again after being vaccinated, I noticed that so much has changed. Let’s talk about it.

As more and more people are vaccinated and restrictions are lifted, people are returning to old haunts and checking out new spots. Construction in this city is moving at a breakneck pace and so is culture. Every person I’ve spoken to in the past month has a hope for the future that I’ve never experienced in my lifetime. After more than a year apart, the hair has stood straight up on my neck several times from all the raw energy around me, whether in bars, restaurants, alleys or gathered around a stage. The energy is palpable and we hope to capture at least a glimmer of it in our pages.

Oklahoma Gazette henceforth will be more kinetic, and we are doubling down on coverage of all the awesome things folks are planning for this summer. There are more exciting things happening in the metro now than we have pages or time to cover but we will do our best.

You’ll also notice several types of new features in the coming months. Creative Director Phillip Danner weathered the storm the past year while brainstorming new ways of approaching and enhancing our content. The coloring page and QR codes were his ideas, among many others.

Oklahoma Gazette has been a part of this community for more than four decades, but it’s also been too far apart from it. In addition to seeing us out and about at more places this year, expect us to start holding events both intimate and enormous. 

The bad news is that all of these things cost money. Numerous alt-weeklies just like ours have sunk in the past year and we came very close. Some people still think that we’re gone forever. We’re back. For now.

The only way we can continue to support our communities is by our communities supporting us. We are almost exclusively driven by advertising revenue. Our existing partners have been fantastic in getting us back up and running and we hope the direction we take is exciting enough to build more. Everyone I’ve talked to about the paper’s future has been excited and optimistic. That gets us through the 16-hour days, but it doesn’t keep the lights on.

As we get the machine oiled and running on all cylinders again, help keep us in the loop of happenings and people we need to meet. My email is editor@okgazette.com. While I may not have the time to reply to every email that comes my way, I promise that I look at every single one. 

Times are tough but they’re getting better. It’s good to see you all again.

Onward.

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