Louise Redcorn ran a paper, sold it and watched it get shut down. Then she ran for office. Now she’s opening a restaurant.

January 13, 2019
Category: Business & Work

This is one of 15 profiles in our series on journalism’s last decade. For the rest of the stories, visit “The Hardest Decade in Journalism?”

In 2008, two years into her role as a publisher, Louise Redcorn felt pretty good about The Bigheart Times, a weekly newspaper in Osage County, Oklahoma.

I had tripled the circulation of my newspaper by putting into practice what I had long preached as a reporter: Giving newspaper readers long, in-depth articles when the subject merited it, as well as spotlighting quality photography in a visual section of the paper.”

Less than a decade later, she sold the paper and tried something new — politics. Here’s what she told us about the past 10 years.

In the last 10 years, what are the biggest changes you’ve had to make in your job?

After success came not failure but certainly disappointment. Thanks largely to Facebook and some other cultural changes, my early progress with The Bigheart Times reversed. Circulation and advertising revenue dropped; if not for legal notices it would have lost money. I sold the paper in early 2017 to GateHouse Media, which shut it down. I pursued a new path of performing a service to the public; I ran for state representative, but lost by a hair. I am now in the process of opening a restaurant.

In the last 10 years, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen journalism go through?

Facebook and other social media have left a terrible mark, not only in taking away readers but in polarizing the news. It is appalling to see how partisan much news coverage is. At the same time, it is heartening to see independent nonprofits like ProPublica step up to the plate and do what all of us should be doing: in-depth, truthful coverage without spinning it one way or the other.

What are you doing now that you didn’t expect to be doing 10 years ago?

Opening a restaurant.

What aren’t you doing now that you did expect to be doing 10 years ago?

I am not engaged as a reporter or editor with my community. For decades, I changed communities around me by blowing the whistle on corruption and incompetence, by celebrating those who did right and by being completely in tune with everything that was going on. People still look to me to make that difference but I don’t have the platform to affect change.

Looking back, what do you wish you’d done or changed faster?

I have no regrets.

What are you glad you didn’t give up in your career?

I never gave up nipping at the heels of those in power who deserved it, I never kowtowed to anyone and I never stopped trying to deliver the news in the most engaging and fresh manner I could muster.

10 years ago, where did you think you’d be now?

I thought I would still be publishing a newspaper.

Where do you think you’ll be 10 years from now?

Retired, traveling around the world and growing my own food.

What’s the best thing that’s happened in journalism in the past decade?

The rise of nonprofits like ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in journalism in the past decade?

Social media and the general coarsening of our culture. It was unimaginable 10 years ago that any American, much less the president of the United States, could call journalists the enemy of the people. I fear for the future of journalism because society seems so rife with meanness and unchecked lies.

What are you the most excited about now in your career?

Being able to produce a fine sourdough bread every day.

What are you the most afraid of now in your career?

Being able to produce a fine sourdough bread every day.