Award-winning sports columnist Berry Tramel isn't the only Oklahoman writer who's had deal with "link" problems. In fact, "The State's Most Trusted News" has a solid history of quickly removing or retracting content that was once published.
If you remember correctly, the paper retracted a front page piece in 2013 after they outed some county officials for taking advantage of very legal, yet somewhat unethical, real estate tax loopholes. Apparently, the article upset the local political power structure, which is a no-no for the paper that loves nothing more than to cater to it.
Then on December 12th, 2014, Jenni Carlson penned a typical Jenni Carlson column about the domestic violence charges filed against Oklahoma State's Tyreke Hill. I'm not sure how or why we forgot to mention this when it happened, but the paper removed the column and then replaced it later in the day with something totally different. Here are the screenshots of the column as it was originally published (1 & 2). Old Tony said it's one of the worst things he's ever read. Here's a link to the updated piece. They're totally different, but on a positive note, at least NewsOK.com finally removed something written by Jenni Carlson.
I bring up all these past examples because The Oklahoman pulled another article from its website over this past weekend. This time, the victim of "link problems" was a light-hearted, casual and so very clickable slideshow that took a look at the "interesting" last meals convicted murderers in Oklahoma scarfed down before being executed by a state government.
Here's a screenshot of the write up:
Yep, that's real. I didn't steal it from Click Hole or make it up. It wasn't published by Anonymous through a clever hacking attempt. It's a real article from a real website for a real newspaper in a real American city that begins with the real line "Imagine you're just hours away from being executed by the state of Oklahoma: What Would Your Last Meal Be?"
The answer, by the way, is Braum's. Not because it's great or anything, but because they'd probably be late with the order and maybe you'd get to live a little bit longer.
If you thought the first line was weird, check out the header image:
Pro tip: When the image that leads off your lighthearted, social engagement clickbait piece includes the phrase "The Last Suppers" imposed over steak, mashed potatoes and execution gurney, it may be time to rethink your concept.
And I'm not saying that because I'm anti-death penalty. I think it should be a legal and acceptable form of punishment for people convicted of the most heinous crimes. Unfortunately, we sometimes execute or put on death row innocent people who didn't commit any heinous crime, so I think we should be a bit more cautious and selective on when it's applied.
But regardless of how you feel, who would actually think an article like that is a good idea? I can see if it was a bit of anti-death penalty satire devised to spoof the media and / or make a statement by humanizing executions, but it wasn't. It was just run-of-the-mill clickbait.
Each slide contained a(n):
• "Interesting" snippet about each executed criminal's crime • Picture of the inmate (before he was executed by the state) • Breakdown of his final request • Calorie count of the meal (because that matters) • Graphic showing an image of each food item • Silly quip or animated GIF from Richard ViralNovaBuzzFeedHall
To NewsOK.com's credit, the piece wasn't on the site too long, but it was there long enough to make the "Most Viewed Stories."
Listen, I don't blame NewsOK.com for taking down the piece of clickbait vomit. Every media outlet in the world has removed something from their website and this piece of crap was totally worthy of it.
My criticism, and I think it's valid, is how did this get approved in the first place? Doesn't The Oklahoman have a team of editors and staff who look at this stuff before it's published. Is the paper really that incompetent? Out of all the people who looked at this piece before it went live, there was not one person who spoke up and said:
"Are we really posting this? Isn't it kind of disrespectful to the executed criminal, the victims of the crime and their families?"
I would assume the answer to that question is "No," because it was published. The only other logical explanation would be someone gave the keys of NewsOK.com to Richard ViralNovaBuzzfeedHall. I know we're questioning how the paper is run, but they can't be that ignorant... right?