- ABOUT US
By Karlie Tipton
December 28, 2011
I know Temple Houston more intimately than I thought I ever would, especially considering he is a somewhat obscure Oklahoman who died more than a hundred years ago. From his legendary skill with a pistol to his prolific career in Indian Territory as a defender of the innocent—and sometimes the guilty—I know Temple’s life story as well as my own grandparents’. In fact, I just about have the entire Soiled Dove Plea memorized. If you have no idea what the Soiled Dove Plea is, don’t worry. Many Oklahomans don’t. This abundance of knowledge regarding all things Temple Houston, Quanah Parker, and a host of other Oklahoma matters is the burden I bear as the editorial assistant of the official state magazine.
I can thank the rigorous factchecking process at Oklahoma Today for that. As our editor, Steffie Corcoran, says, “We must have a zeal for getting it right.” That “it” refers not just to the facts but the nuances writers and editors use, the context in which things are presented, and everything else you might never think of.
For instance, in the upcoming film issue, on newsstands tomorrow, in the original version of my story about the town of Wakita, I mentioned how the producers of the movie Twister destroyed much of the town and then paid to have to have it restored. One might infer that Steven Spielberg himself operated a backhoe and bulldozer to spruce the place up, but, of course, that was not the case. The text was changed slightly so that there was no ambiguity. I may have screwed up the facts – obviously we need to get things right.
And sometimes, we’re just wrong the first time around. Associate editor Megan Rossman, who is almost always spot on, wrote in the theater portfolio about Miami’s Coleman Theatre having a “2,000-pound Italian chandelier, with 260 custom-made, color changing bulbs and 6,500 yards of crystal beads.” All of that is accurate, except for a few thousand extra strands of beads—the chandelier, pictured on page 63 of the January/February issue in a stunning photograph by John Jernigan, actually has 65 yards. But I would have never known that if I hadn’t done my research.
That research might include reading a dozen newspaper articles, a couple books, making a dozen phone calls, and spending hours searching online. It can be tiring, double-checking to make absolutely sure that Temple Houston did in fact have “piercing gray”—not “icy blue”—eyes, but our writers deserve their work to be as accurate as possible, and our readers deserve to get the real story about their state. Obviously, we are human, so there will always be a margin of error, but the Oklahoma Today staff members strive to make sure that margin is as small as possible. My New Year’s resolution for this upcoming year is to be able to say every day I come to work, “Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.”