I was interviewing someone for a news story recently when they asked how The Frontier is doing and about our future plans. 

“You’ve been around how long now?” the person asked. 

I was surprised to realize the answer to that question was “ almost nine years.”

This will probably not surprise you, but launching a new media outlet is not an easy task. I remember sitting around with the rest of the staff, planning for our launch, trying to figure out what might go wrong. We were worried about so much. Would anyone read us? Would anyone answer our calls? Would we be taken seriously?

I have a distinct memory of sitting in a coffee shop with the original Frontier squad — Bobby Lorton, Ziva Branstetter, Cary Aspinwall and Kevin Canfield — and making a plan not to worry about those questions anymore. I think Kevin even mentioned the movie Field of Dreams at one point. 

“If you build it, they will come.”

We decided as a group that those questions were out of our control. What was in our control was the journalism we produced. We figured at the end of the day, if we did our jobs, the readers would follow. 

For the first few weeks, I was afraid that if I opened phone calls with “This is Dylan Goforth with The Frontier,” people would respond “This is who with what?” So, instead, my phone calls began this way: “This is Dylan Goforth, I work with Ziva Branstetter.” Everyone knew Ziva, so this worked.

I was heartened to find that after a few short weeks, people seemed to know who we were. People responded to our phone calls and emails quickly and we could see our stories taking off on social media. It didn’t take long before we began to feel truly established.

It’s hard to believe that was almost nine years ago. We’ve grown since then, from a team of four covering Tulsa, to a team of six and growing — you’ll hear more on that soon. And now we cover the entire state. But what hasn’t changed is our commitment to doing impactful journalism.

My first editor once gave me a quiz. He asked me if I thought he was a “reporter’s editor or an editor’s editor.” Meaning, in a disagreement, would he take my side or my editor’s side?

It was a trick question. “I’m a reader’s editor,” he said. “I’ll always do what’s best for the reader.”

That line has stuck with me ever since. Every story we work on, we ask ourselves how we can make it better for our readers. I’ve heard it said that journalism creates change. That’s true, in a sense, but really, I think journalism sparks change. I’ve never changed anything myself. 

But I’ve written stories that have resulted in firings, criminal charges, policy changes and arrests, among other things. Those things happened, not because of me, but because readers took an interest in what I wrote about and demanded change. That’s the true power of journalism.

I promise you our next nine years will look a lot like our first, only better. We’re committed to telling the best, most impactful stories we can. I love our staff, I love how varied they are as people. We have reporters who are gym fiends, who hunt and fish, who do karate (ask me who and I might tell you,) among other things. But what they all have in common is a desire to inform Oklahomans, to give you the knowledge you need to make change happen.

The relationship between a news outlet and the community they serve is symbiotic. You all rely on us to find the wrongdoing, to find the people being harmed by unjust systems or laws. And we rely on you to spread the word and help everyone else discover what we’ve uncovered.

Without you, none of what we do works.

That’s why I’m asking you today to consider becoming a Frontier supporter. We’re a nonprofit, and all your donations are tax-deductible. 

Now through Dec. 31, donations to The Frontier will be matched by a collaborative fundraising movement called NewsMatch that supports independent, public-service journalism. We can earn up to $50,000 in matched donations.

This is the most crucial time of the year for us. We know that to continue to serve Oklahoma, we need to continue growing. Every year, my biggest regret is the stories we couldn’t tell, because we didn’t have the bodies or time to throw at them. 

Together we can help make Oklahoma better, one step at a time. Thanks for your support.