Even if you swap out the proper nouns with more generic descriptors, the headline to this article still reads like something you'd see in a 2006 edition of The Onion, or better yet, The Oklahoma Partisan –
Internet Message Board Acquires Alternative Weekly Newspaper, Adds News Anchor Fresh Off Sexting Scandal.
Okay, in all fairness, OKC Talk is more than a message board, in the same way that The Lost Ogle is more than a blog and John TV is more than a fetish website. Those internet roots can sometimes be hard to shake.
Anyway, news came out yesterday that an investment group formed by Pete Brzycki, the publisher of OKC Talk, acquired the Oklahoma Gazette and it's valuable Edgar Cruz ad account from Bill Bleakley and Linda Meoli. Terms of the deal were not released.
Outside of those who served as an intermediary between the two groups and helped ignite a passing of the torch between local print and digital media guards, the news took the local journalism scene by surprise. Here's the PR Spin:
Contracts were signed today finalizing local business and civic news site OKCTalk.com’s acquisition of Tierra Media Group, the parent company of Oklahoma Gazette. The independent weekly newspaper’s founder and publisher for 40 years, Bill Bleakley, passes control of Gazette to Peter J. Brzycki, who will serve as publisher of both entities.
“Oklahoma Gazette is enormously important as a source for independent journalism, and I am dedicated to preserving and promoting that independence,” Brzycki said. “I love Oklahoma City and fully believe that our city deserves a strong source of uncompromised reporting. With our combined resources, we will serve as a watchdog and promote strong journalistic ethics by example.”...
That's cool. In addition to The Gazette takeover, Pete also announced they have added this guy to the OKC Talk / Gazette Team:
In addition, the consolidated entity will add Emmy Award-winning journalist Lance West to its team. West, who has been recognized for exceptional journalism by Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, will anchor video news segments. West served for 23 years as a reporter and anchor at KFOR-TV News 4.
Kudos to Lance for landing on his feet and everything, but isn't this kind of fast? Like, shouldn't he still be mending broken trust or something? I figured he'd ease back into public life by appearing in car commercials with Meg Alexander, but now he's going to be reporting live from the new Costco ribbon cutting. Let's just hope Pete disables the camera on Lance's iPhone.
According to sources, West is to be the OKC Talk / Gazette version of NewsOK.com's Dave Morris. I think that was intended to be a compliment. In other news, I am proud to announce that The Lost Ogle has hired Jack Bowen to be our version of Wimgo Wendy.
Anyway, I'm still not 100% sure what to think about all this.
On a personal note, I think it's really cool. I like all the people involved and wish them the best of luck. Oklahoma actually has a pretty strong independent online media scene, and adding The Gazette to the mix should make it better for everyone. It will be interesting to see what direction Pete takes things. Will next week's big Gazette cover story be that Great Wolf Lodge is considering an Oklahoma location? Will he give Midtowner his own back page column? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
From a business perspective, I'm not sure which way to lean. First of all, are there more local media mergers in the works? Is Non Doc going to acquire So6ix? Will we buy The Oklahoman? That will affect how the cookie crumbles. Also, is this new "Consolidated Entity" going to play friendly... or are they going to be mean? I'm hoping they're nice and respectful, but if they do go dirty, we are totally prepared to fight back. In fact, I still have these free Edgar Cruz ads in the queue and ready to drop at a moment's notice:
In all seriousness, congrats to Pete. Hopefully this works out, and then he can buy us (or The Oklahoman) next.