Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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OKLAHOMA RURAL NEWS

First published on January 15, 1948, and edited by A. D. Mueller, the monthly publication Oklahoma Rural News (ORN) was developed by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives as a medium to spotlight the need for inexpensive public power. At that time, private power companies served the rural United States, and electricity was costly. Providing rural America with affordable energy became a focal issue in state and national politics.

Some analysts believe Oklahoma Rural News' coverage of the 1950 U.S. senatorial campaign between Oklahoma congressman Mike Monroney and incumbent Elmer Thomas determined the election's outcome. Believing the contest had significant importance for the future of Rural Electric Cooperatives (RECs), before the run-off ORN carried a special supplement that supported Monroney. At a time when mass political mailings were uncommon, the eight-page supplement, sent to an estimated seventy-three thousand homes and businesses, represented a sizable campaign contribution. As a result of this support, the rural vote was split. Combined with his edge in urban areas, Monroney defeated Thomas.

The ability to mobilize a sizable number of voters underscored ORN as a publication of influence and catapulted RECs into an important position in Oklahoma economics and politics. Distributed to all residential and commercial rural electric customers, Oklahoma Rural News has the third largest circulation of an Oklahoma publication after the Daily Oklahoman and the Tulsa World. Renamed Oklahoma Living in 1992, the paper has evolved from reporting farm and ranch news to focusing on rural lifestyle. At the turn of the twenty-first century the monthly periodical was printed by Webb Communications in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

SEE ALSO: OKLAHOMA ECONOMY, OKLAHOMA PUBLISHING COMPANY (OPUBCO), PRINTING AND PUBLISHING INDUSTRY, TULSA WORLD.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Stephen F. Lalli, "The Oklahoma Rural News: Roots of an Electric Cooperative Newspaper," 71 The Chronicles of Oklahoma (Winter 1993 94). Oklahoma Living, January 2004.

Stephen F. Lalli

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