My week at The Edmond Sun ended as it began. The pulse of humanity flowed into words as I reported on the coronavirus. But the ink had been cast.
A phone call on Friday, May 1 alerted me that The Edmond Sun staff had been cast away, ostensibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For weeks I had been reporting relevant information on how coronavirus was changing everyday life. I was to join the ranks of a surging unemployment force. A germ changed the course of history down to the last dot, comma, and transition for Oklahoma’s longest-running newspaper.
The small weekly premiered in Oklahoma Territory on a hot July 18, 1889, in what was known then as a train refueling town.
I had been with the paper for nearly 35 years. Residents knew the newspaper as a defender against corruption and a champion of the common man. The Edmond Sun brought reason and comfort during wars, recessions, tornadoes, and man’s inhumanity toward man during the 1986 Edmond postal massacre and the 1995 Murrah Building bombing.
So it is sad that CNHI shut-down the newspaper during a profound time of loss for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. A sun-lit thread was pulled from a tapestry when the community needed the paper the most.
I have been told by former subscribers that they are grieving the loss of the newspaper. And sadly, it came to my attention that The Edmond Sun website had been removed. There is no longer a documented record of the history of a community online. So much for community service.
The Edmond Sun was more than a business. News documented the history of a people. Now the book is closed but not forgotten, and its legacy is that it helped navigate the world with top-notch journalism and opinion. Who will reveal what transpires in city government, and provide relevant information when neighborhoods have questions?
Another source of local news will rise if Edmond wills it. Edmond remains a vibrant community needing straight-forward journalism. But today old community newspapers are fading away. My many years of experience with The Edmond Sun shall not be defined by the newspaper’s closure. May its legacy be a gateway reflecting the life of a progressive people who do not settle for second-rate reporting. As The Edmond Sun’s founder Milton Kickingbird Reynolds wrote, “This city will be what the people will it to be.”
I believe the Sun still shines.
James Coburn served as reporter and photographer for The Edmond Sun from 1986-2020. He served as a photographer and feature writer as well as a reporter on city, state, and national political beats. He was on the scene of the Edmond Post Office massacre and was one of the first at the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing. He also freelanced for Oklahoma’s Nursing Times for 17 years. He is a resident poet at NonDoc.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coronavirus Storytelling Project is a collaboration between the Oklahoma-based Inasmuch Foundation, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and Oklahoma Watch to help state journalists who have been furloughed or displaced as well as those in struggling community news organizations. The Inasmuch Foundation has pledged $50,000 to launch the project and provide five $500 grants to those accepted into the project each week for the next four months. Apply here.