Launching the Carter Observer

“The mission of the Carter Observer is: to provide information and community news for Carter County; to provide a platform that empowers local communities through modern multimedia; to amplify ideas and achievements of the people of Carter County.”

Carter Observer – Mission Statement
A Carter Observer logo with a simple illustration on the far left of a notebook with three rings along the top. To the right reads Carter Observer

Carter County is home to more than 48,000 people and hosts thousands more every year as a social, cultural and business hub for southern Oklahoma. Committees, boards, and governing bodies regularly meet to conduct the day-to-day business for these towns and organizations across the county but their work often goes unnoticed by most until something is upside-down or it’s time for an election.

While many of the meetings, events and proceedings are public, a shrinking press corps in rural America means a shrinking amount of that work ever makes it to conversations around local water coolers. It may be frustrating to learn about a community event after the fact, but the gaps in local news have become dangerous hurdles when it comes to the average person participating in the local democratic process.

So a project has been launched around a simple mission with three tenets: Inform, Empower, Amplify.

Information is the backbone of this project. The main goal of Carter Observer content is to serve as a resource and news outlet for people in communities across Carter County, Oklahoma with independently aggregated information, exclusive news coverage, and submitted content from community members. Verified contributions from a Carter Observer will be marked so readers can trust what they read, while other submissions that could include promotions or opinions will also be marked in an effort to fight disinformation.

This project will also chronicle events, individuals, and issues that could impact people in Carter County by producing multimedia content updated at regular intervals and in real-time. When more community members see the regular collaboration of their neighbors for themselves, that new knowledge can help Empower some to help build momentum…or stop a pending disaster.

And finally, The Carter Observer hopes to provide somewhere for safe, reliable dialogue without the noise or influence of irrelevant talking points. One way to Amplify local voices — especially those from long-marginalized communities — is to act as a platform rather than gatekeeper to promote southern Oklahoma ideas and achievements through community-driven stories.

In these first weeks of the project, some resources are already available and more will be added. Original news reporting will likely be limited to weekly posts of written articles with photos as personal commitments allow. As coverage expands, multimedia offerings are expected to include live and recorded audio and video streams on multiple digital platforms.

Thank you for checking out the Carter Observer and I hope to keep you informed in the near future!

– Michael Dean Smith is an award-winning journalist based in Ardmore and has previously worked in print and broadcast journalism, including contributing reports for national outlets like USA Today and Fox News Radio. He is the inaugural Carter Observer and can soon be reached at mdeansmith@carterobserver.net