Now through Dec. 31, your tax-deductible donation of up to $1,000 to The Frontier will be doubled through the Newsmatch program. Launched by the Knight Foundation in 2016, NewsMatch is funding more than $3 million in matching funds with the support of a diverse group of donors including Democracy Fund and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
The Frontier is dedicated to independent, uncompromising journalism that shines a light on issues Oklahomans care about. We’re profiling a different Frontier staff member each week through the end of the year in conjunction with our NewsMatch campaign.
Name and title: Dylan Goforth, editor-in chief
Favorite book: Honestly I’d probably be lying if I didn’t say “Jurassic Park.” The first time I read it, the opening sequence (where a park supervisor secrets away a worker who’d been attacked and attempts to persuade a skeptical island doctor the injuries were caused by construction equipment) was so intense and visceral to my young mind that when I finished that chapter I realized I was sweating. There are obviously better books (either “The Road” or “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy stands out as other potential faves,) but this one is my favorite. The first Dark Tower book, “The Gunslinger,” has always been a big favorite of mine, as well as Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” which I read about once a year. Yes I just listed five favorite books.
Favorite movie: “2001: A Space Odyssey” – It has been my favorite movie for a long time. Every time I watch it I just wonder what it must have been like to have seen it in the 1960s. A few months ago it was re-released in IMAX, complete with an intermission in the middle and everything. It was a pretty great experience.
Favorite food: I’m not going to say “pizza” because that’s too obvious. If someone asked me to my face, I’d say street tacos are my favorite food, but if you gave me truth serum the answer would probably be queso.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to join The Frontier.
I’ve been here since Day 1, back when we were in a small side office in the Philtower building waiting for our permanent office to open up. I got into journalism basically by accident, and took a real winding route to The Frontier. I’ve spent time as a sports writer, a copy editor, a paginator and now a news reporter where I’ve covered just about every big event in Oklahoma since 2013. Looking back is a fun exercise, because the industry moves so fast that you often forget just how much history you’ve actually witnessed up close.
What’s your favorite thing about being part of The Frontier team?
It’s really hard to pick a “favorite,” but I’d say one thing that sticks out is how freeing it is to be allowed to work on a story for days or weeks (or even months) and to publish it knowing it’s the best version of that story you could have possibly put together.
What’s your favorite story The Frontier has published or that you’ve written?
There was a story I wrote back in 2015 about a 21-year-old Tulsan named Monroe Bird. He’d been in a car with a girl when a security guard approached him and ordered him out of the vehicle. The stories diverge here, but ultimately he backed into the security guard and was shot as he was driving away.
He was paralyzed as a result of the shooting. I got to know him and his family over the months following that shooting and wrote a handful of stories about them. He was eventually forced to leave the hospital because of insurance and the cost of the 24/7 care he needed and he moved home with his mother and stepfather, where he lived in an expensive hospital bed inside the family’s tiny living room in Boley. His mother essentially had to become his full-time nurse.
Bird died not long after leaving the hospital as a result of an undetected blood clot. I eventually wrote a story about his case and life that I think really illustrated the complexities of several issues in Oklahoma. Bird was never charged with a crime, yet the security guard (who was found to have marijuana in his bag at work that night and was later charged with possession) wasn’t charged for shooting him, and ultimately left the state to hide out in Texas. Bird needed expensive medical care, but insurance wouldn’t pay for it because he’d been shot by a security guard, despite the fact that only the security guard who shot him was ever charged with a crime.
The whole thing felt very arbitrary and always seemed to be heading to the inevitable conclusion it eventually reached.
Why is nonprofit news important in Oklahoma?
The news industry is just changing so fast. In-state papers are being purchased by out-of-state companies and gutted, and no one has any idea how to stop what is happening. I don’t know what the industry will look like in 5 or 10 years, but I do know that if you want journalism to continue being done the way it has been in the past, it needs your financial support. And I really do believe that nonprofit newsrooms are likely the best way to keep news “locally owned.”