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Is the Gazette selling out?

7:00 PM EST on November 7, 2008

Here is what the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies says about the Oklahoma Gazette:

...While the Gazette has grown into the largest weekly newspaper in the state, we never lose sight of our mission: to analyze, recognize, stimulate and expose. The Oklahoma Gazette's award-winning writers tell it like it is. Our progressive approach does not always make people happy. But we provide the balance we, and our readers, think is sorely missing from our daily newspapers and electronic media outlets. We do not follow the rest of the journalism herd, noisily tramping from press-conference-to -press conference. Instead, we look for that one thing about a story that sets off mental fireworks. Complimenting the Gazette's thought-provoking commentary and news section is our commitment to the community with our extensive, and often exclusive coverage of local music, food and restaurants, entertainment and the arts. Our visually attractive design draws in readers from across the demographic spectrum, from members of the Greatest Generation to Generations X and Y. Oklahoma Gazette does not strive to make people look good. We strive to be fair.

In a way, I kind of agree with that description. And I think it summarizes why I've always been an avid reader of the weekly newspaper. Seriously, I still remember the highlight of my family's $3.99 enchilada night dinner excursions being picking up a Gazette and reading the angry old bald guy's movie reviews on the ride home. That, and the sopapillas.

Anyway, in this week's issue the Gazette prints the typical Gazette stuff: angry letters to the editor, the beautiful and snarky chicken friend news, stuff to do this weekend, and classified ads for "massage therapists." But one thing was different. In this week's issue, they have a 20-page special section dedicated to...

Nursing.

Yes, our state's nurses (and the shortage of them) commands a 20-page, ad dominated section of this state's finest "alternative" weekly. I'm not sure what's so "alternative" about nurses, and why they get such a large feature, but it makes you wonder what special sections are coming next? Maybe a tribute to the plight of trial lawyers? Perhaps an outside view of CPAs? Or better yet, maybe a look at Oklahoma's 20 best furniture retailers. Anything to sell an ad, right?

If I ran the Gazette, I would stay true to my roots and would avoid advertorial-looking special sections on the boring health care industry. There is nothing alternative about that. Instead, I would do what works and publish features on amazing obscure local social blogs. Or AWESOME Halloween Parades. Or "40 candy stripe nurses under 40." I'd even put mighty Joe Wertz and Hinder in a replica TARDIS and document what happens. I'd also bring back the old angry bald guy who wrote the movie reviews.

Anything to sell an ad, right?

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