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Tramel: Invest in The Oklahoman for a dime a day

My column for the Tuesday Oklahoman centered on the 50th anniversary of Bob Kalsu’s death. Maybe you read it.

Kalsu was a Del City kid who became an all-American tackle at OU in 1967, became a rookie starter for the 1968 Buffalo Bills and then chose not to seek a deferment from his ROTC military commitment and accepted an assignment to Vietnam. He was killed by North Vietnamese mortar fire on July 21, 1970.

The story was a hit with readers. I knew it would be. You can’t miss with Bob Kalsu. You can’t miss with honor and valor.

It was just the kind of story a weary Oklahoma needed. In these crazy times, a story of courage and commitment and pride goes a long way to renewing our strength in our fellow man.

It’s also the kind of story you’re not guaranteed. Without The Oklahoman, that story wouldn’t have been written.

I like to say that I shoot straight with readers and sports fans, so here’s some straight shooting. Newspapers are in trouble. First the internet and then social media combined to torpedo our business model. Going back to the 19th century, newspapers made their money on advertising. Those days are gone. I’ve been told that more than 50 percent of the world’s advertising is spent in two places: Facebook and Google.

And newspapers have been forced to stay afloat via subscriptions.

Forever, newspapers were priced too cheaply. A nickel or dime in the dusty days of history. A quarter in the olden days. Fifty cents when I hit my stride a generation ago. Best bargain in America.

I liken newspapers to the postage stamp. I don’t know what stamps cost these days; 50 cents, 55 cents? And we all gripe about the price.

Did you ever think about what you get for 50 cents. A document – a check, a letter, a note, legal papers, any number of things -- that is important to you will be taken anywhere in the country, not just to a state or a city, but to a particular address. Providence, Rhode Island; Olympia, Washington; West Palm Beach, Florida. Doesn’t matter.

That stamp means your valuable document will be carried to precisely the point in the United States you would like it delivered. And that document will even be picked up at your place home or office.

And we gripe about the price.

Same with a newspaper. An incredible deal. A group of professional journalists will assemble a daily paper, at least still daily in OKC, with stories about what’s important to Oklahomans.

The pandemic. Governmental decisions. Sports. Lifestyle trends. Money. We will assemble those stories in a format that tells you what’s most important and keep you up to date on your community and state.

And we deliver it to your house. Then tomorrow, we do it all over again.

The cost is up to $2, and yes, that’s crazy compared to the old days. But call up 7-Eleven and see what they have for $2. A large Icee. A big candy bar. A large bag of chips. Then say it’s a deal and ask them to bring it right over and see what they say.

We bring it over 365 days a year.

But we know that the prices we’re charging now are not sustainable, and even if they were, our readership is aging. We know we have to shift, and we have. The Oklahoman got in early on the web-site game, and for almost a quarter century we’ve been one of the leaders in digital presentation of the news.

Then even the internet changed, via social media, and now we know we can’t give away our product, like we did for decades.

So what will save us is a digital subscription. The Oklahoman has launched a campaign, selling a digital subscriptions for $39 a year. That’s about a dime a day, just like it was 1898 and Oklahoma City was a boomtown.

I know, I’m like you. I’d rather hold the newsprint in my hands. Rather spread it out on the table or scan a full page or see huge photographs. And we’ll still do that for hard-core readers like you and me.

But we must sell digital subscriptions, too. Access to our news feed that includes updates throughout the day on dozens of subjects. Access to our blogs and photo galleries. Access to our unparalleled archives, a must for anyone who loves history.

We need young people to buy digital subscriptions, and young people need us. It’s possible they don’t yet appreciate the value of a local newspapers, which serves as a watchdog on the State House and the courthouse and the county commissioners. Local newspapers, when at their best, look out for the little guy and give you information that improves your quality of life and tell you stories about people like Bob Kalsu, who make us proud to be Oklahomans.

When I was a kid, my dad took four newspapers a day. The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City Times, the Oklahoma Journal and the Norman Transcript. Only the former and the latter remain with us. Newspaper survivals are not guaranteed. Neither is the republic.

Here is the link to our digital campaign . Buy a subscription. Share it with the 30somethings and 20somethings in your life and remind them of the value of a common marketplace of information and ideas that The Oklahoman provides.

A lot of readers today have told me to give them more stories like that of Bob Kalsu. That’s what I plan to do.

But I need your help.

Related Photos
The Oklahoman newsroom with Frist Amendment, Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

The Oklahoman newsroom with Frist Amendment, Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - The Oklahoman newsroom with Frist Amendment, Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman" title="The Oklahoman newsroom with Frist Amendment, Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>The Oklahoman newsroom with Frist Amendment, Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›