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Opinion: Worn out, it is time to bid farewell


On the day of Joe Biden’s swearing-in, a reader emailed to complain about a story that morning in The Oklahoman — printed ahead of the inauguration, mind you — that referred to President-elect Biden and “President Trump.” The writer’s message: “It’s President Biden you piece of s---!”

Who needs that? Not I. Not anymore.

After 17-and-a-half years writing opinion for The Oklahoman, this is my last day. I exit without a parachute — no job awaits — but have decided this move needs to happen, as much for my emotional well-being as anything. Simply put, I’m worn out.

This departure has nothing to do with my recent decision to begin putting my name on editorials. That has been well received by readers. Instead, this is strictly about the need to get out of the fray and do something else. It's been a long time coming.

My job for the past 21 months, since becoming the last person standing in this department, has been to produce two editorials each Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and a group of short editorials each Saturday. It has been manageable, but the grind is relentless. Last year, I actually looked forward to my furlough weeks because they meant I was able to get away.

Little, if anything, about this job is the same as when I came onboard in June 2003. Then, the Opinion staff included three full-time writers, a part-timer and a cartoonist, the late great Jim Lange. The newspaper had a full editorial board and was locally owned. Today, I am the lone Opinion writer and have been since April 2019. There is no editorial board. A large media company owns the paper.

Little about the newspaper, or the business, is the same, either. And, the tenor of the times has taken its toll. We have reached a place where respectful disagreement is rare. It has become easier to scream that someone with an opposing view is the enemy or an idiot or a bigot or a choose-your-derisive-adjective than it is to engage in constructive dialogue. The intolerance and shaming and cancel culture are corrosive, and tiresome.

I am proud of my work. If you read editorials about corrections reform, or road and bridge funding, or mental health, or problems with the Oklahoma County jail, or the state’s initiative petition process, there is a good chance I wrote them. Those and thousands of others, on scores of topics.

One constant was that any criticism was never personal. I sought to treat others with respect and fairness. If I fell short at times, it was unintentional.

Perhaps this change will engender a little more personal contentment and a little less angst, and help me to become a better husband, father, grandfather and friend. That is my overriding wish in departing.


Owen Canfield can be reached at or (405) 740-7624.

Owen Canfield III

Owen Canfield has written editorials for The Oklahoman since 2003. Prior to that, he spent 19 years with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lori, have four children. Read more ›