Praising Darla: Honoring a reporter, and a friend

EDMOND, OK – The late William F. Buckley, Jr., frequently answered criticisms about his friendships with people who did not share his views, including his selection of godparents for his children.

Buckley, whom I was privileged to know, explained once, “I am a conservative in all things, save my choice of friends.”

That is true of me, as well, and my involvement in the event sponsored by the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is fresh proof of it. Darla Shelden can be called many things, but “conservative” is not one of them.

However, I appreciate the liberality of her spirit. Her willingness to examine propositions, her embrace and understanding of another’s perspective on maters of importance, these are the hallmarks of a journalist.

From the start, she was a decent reporter. I was drawn to the quality of her press releases on behalf of various worthy causes. She had and has good writing skills, and an ability to take guidance and counsel.

Now, she is an excellent reporter, skilled and trusted in our community.

Furthermore, she is a friend and adviser to me, a sure support to my dream, that is, the preservation of an independent voice, a home for community journalism in our city and state.

She is fair, not necessarily objective. “Objective” is an important word, but it is over-rated. Each of us has a worldview. I respect those with clear perspectives, I ask merely for fairness in reporting. Darla is even-handed but not blind to injustice and inequities in our system.

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) seeks the abolition of the ultimate act of government power, something explicitly contemplated in the Constitution but not required of any state.

In the end, the American people rule. Take care in your advocacy to preserve the arena of democratic choice.

Whatever differences there are among us, we all cherish truth, decency and unity. We possess it now as we honor our friend, our dear sister Darla, in this recognition.

NOTE: These are McGuigan’s prepared remarks, announcing Darla Shelden as winner of the Phil Wahl Award, at the Annual Banquet, Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP), University of Central Oklahoma, Nigh Center, on Saturday, April 4, 2015. McGuigan is editor of, and publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper.