Editor, Daily Press:
I just want to let you know how impressed I am with the professionalism displayed by Tahlequah Daily Press Managing Editor Kim Poindexter during a disturbing incident I witnessed Monday, April 1.
After early-voting that morning, I stopped by the Press to thank Ms. Poindexter and Staff Writer Rob Anderson for the article he had written correcting the misinformation and misconceptions about the Lifeline Assist Program and its connection with cell phones.
It was obvious I arrived in the middle of Ms. Poindexter’s dealing with a complaint from a very angry man. Trying to be discreet, I turned my back and pretended to browse through items on public display in the lobby. Quickly, however, I decided I didn’t want my back turned to him. After all, he and I were sharing a very small space, and he was a large man who sounded as if his anger was reaching the breaking point. His tone was rude, aggressive and accusatory. Frankly, he was frightening me. I turned to face him and noted that he acknowledged my presence with a glance. To me, his body language (a very large body), seemed threatening as he addressed Ms. Poindexter. Shocked and apprehensive, I was on the alert and was glad to see TDP’s new publisher, David Compton, standing near her.
At that time, the man was accusing Ms. Poindexter of mocking his Christian faith by putting some statement inside quotation marks. She was trying to explain that journalistic procedure required that statements of that kind had to be attributed; otherwise, it would imply the newspaper was making the statements. He didn’t seem interested in listening nor in even trying to understand her explanation. Shortly thereafter, he handed her a folded newspaper and told her to correct the items he had underlined. He said a couple of other things, then he left.
I decided to wait until another time to speak to Ms. Poindexter, and also left. He was just beginning to back out of his parking space next to the Press’ entrance. Still a bit wary of his anger, I remained on the porch until he had cleared the parking lot.
As a former print and radio reporter, I knew what Ms. Poindexter was trying to explain to the man. However, experience has taught me some people just don’t want to understand. They’re unable to conceive of the concept of journalistic integrity, which requires fair and balanced reporting and genuinely trying to present all sides of a story to the best of the news outlet’s ability. It’s my experience that these people aren’t really interested in being informed and enlightened; they prefer reading publications or listening to broadcast networks that justify and support their point of view. That’s unfortunate.
I confess to a great admiration for Ms. Poindexter – an admiration I held for her even as we were competitors for the same breaking stories when I was news director at the local radio station. I had an advantage in the immediacy of radio; she had the advantage of more in-depth print reporting. The Internet has changed that.
My admiration for Ms. Poindexter stems from her commitment to journalistic integrity, which I’ve grown to think permeates the very marrow of her being. Under her leadership, the Tahlequah Daily Press has evolved into one of the finest newspapers in Oklahoma. The consistency with which it earns recognition and awards is a testament to that. In her own right, Ms. Poindexter consistently earns awards for her editorials and columns.
In Teddye Snell, Ben Johnson, Josh Newton and Rob Anderson, Ms. Poindexter has assembled a staff of fine reporters who reflect her commitment. One can consistently depend on their stories being well-researched, factual, presenting as many angles as possible and being written clearly and concisely. I often wonder when any of them sleep. I’ve also wondered how Ms. Poindexter manages to deal with the pressure and complaints she receives from people who don’t understand the function, nor comprehend the value, of a newspaper with integrity; who have no conception of the hard work involved; who don’t even want to understand or comprehend.
As a member of this community, however, I’m thankful she does. She and her staff, along with a number of string reporters, provide an invaluable service to this community through their efforts to keep Tahlequah and Cherokee County residents informed and enlightened. Correcting misinformation and misconceptions about the Lifeline Assist Program by presenting ‘fact’ rather than fiction, is an example of the Press’ efforts to inform, and hopefully, to “enlighten.” We’re very fortunate to have them.