GTR Presents Final Edition After 30 Years
By Terrell Lester
It’s time to turn the page and mark -30-.
In newspaper jargon, that signifies the end of a story.
In terms of GTR Newspapers, it signifies the end of an era.
With the publication of this issue, GTR Newspapers is closing down operations after 30 years.
It could be seen as -30- for 30. The patriarch of the GTR Newspapers family is D. Forrest Cameron, a Tulsan whose blood has been mixed with ink since childhood.
With his wife, Sharon, as co-publisher, Cameron built a newspaper syndicate that produced the Union Boundary, Jenks District Gazette, Broken Arrow Express, Owasso Rambler, Bixby Breeze and Midtown Monitor.
From the inaugural publication of the Union Boundary in February 1993 through the addition of similarly targeted mastheads over the next decade, the GTR influence was appreciable and essential in all corners of Tulsa County.
The Cameron mantra never wavered from its original mark, to wit, provide interesting targeted local news and information.
Cameron knew well his audience.
Indeed, the six publications found their audiences. And vice versa.
Local and national awards recognized the diligence and dedication of the Camerons and the staff of professional writers and editors they coordinated.
There was the Best Paper of Excellence in North America award by Independent Free Papers of America, the Energy Advocate of the Year for Journalism Award, the Oklahoma Press Association accolades.
Cameron himself was singled out for the “Legend” Tulsey Award for entrepreneurship in 2010. He was hailed as the Tulsa Metro Chamber Small Business Media Advocate of the Year in 1999.
Without question, it has been a distinguished run for GTR and the Camerons.
When the first Union Boundary hit the streets, the Camerons did not have a fax machine. Cell phones and computers were in their infancy.
Within three years, the Camerons turned to the internet, becoming one of the nation’s first publications to go online.
Their circulation continued to grow. Their reputation spread. Advertisers clamored for position.
The Camerons built their brand into Oklahoma’s largest monthly news group.
As Tulsa County’s population boomed, so, too, did the distribution numbers for the GTR-branded tabloids.
GTR was the respected repository for local news. From business and education to sports and entertainment, GTR staff writers had their collective hands on the pulse of Tulsa County.
From Broken Arrow to Jenks, Bixby to Owasso, GTR became the trusted voice of community awareness.
“Our motto is ‘We Support a Greater Tulsa,’” Cameron has said often. “And we mean it.”
As technology improved, GTR kept in step, deepening its commitment to the delivery of information.
Color photography became the standard.
Computers and digital designers created graphically appealing pages.
Advanced printing capabilities meant shorter publishing times.
The emphasis on informing, accurately informing, was Job One.
D. Forrest Cameron never stood motionless. Always was moving forward. Eyes always fixed on the next story, the next concept, the next deadline.
It was his dream, his ambition to inform his targeted communities of population shifts, educational potentials, business successes, along with multi-layered cultural observations.
Just as his background had prepared him, Cameron had succeeded.
Even before his teens, he had become fixated on the publishing realm. Born into a family of inveterate consumers of newspapers, Forrest, as a fifth-grader in Tulsa, routinely typed up a neighborhood gazette in his bedroom, calling upon his own experiences and perceptions, and hawked the finished product to neighbors for a penny apiece.
Not surprisingly, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Tulsa and complemented that with a doctorate in communication from the University of Kentucky.
His next foray into publishing came in 1971 when he founded the sports tabloid The Valley, emphasizing athletics programs from the Missouri Valley Conference.
That singular focus expanded to the horizons when he launched the GTR enterprise after spending most of 1992 planning and preparing a template that would become a publishing triumph.
Bob Lewis joined the GTR staff as an editor several years ago. He had left a daily newspaper where he served as managing editor. He shared with Cameron, in his words, a desire for “a meaningful and significant community newspaper.”
Cameron’s most adroit skill, Lewis said, “is knowing his audience and working relentlessly to provide the kind of news that is of interest and important to them.”
Lewis added: “Remember, he began GTR from scratch and was able to keep it going for some 30 years. A turbulent time in the industry that saw the closing of a large number of newspapers.”
And, today, GTR Newspapers joins that melancholy list.
Readership attitudes have changed.
Advertising revenues have faded.
Newspapers do not hold their once-exalted rank.
So, it’s time to bid farewell, old friend.
Time to turn the final page on GTR and mark -30-.
The Camerons plan to continue contributing to the greater Tulsa Community in the economic and non-profit sectors.