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Robby Trammell takes office as OPA president
Robby Trammell, news director for The Oklahoman and its website, NewsOK.com, was elected president of the Oklahoma Press Association at the June 4 OPA Convention in Oklahoma City.
Trammell will serve a one-year term beginning July 1.
Other officers elected to a one-year term were Dayva Spitzer, co-publisher of the Sayre Record & Beckham County Democrat, as vice president; Rod Serfoss, publisher of the Clinton Daily News, as treasurer, and Jeff Funk, publisher of the Enid News & Eagle, as past president.
Newly elected to the OPA board of directors for a three-year term was Mark Millsap, publisher of The Norman Transcript. Ray Dyer, co-publisher of the El Reno Tribune, was re-elected to serve a three-year term.
Other members of the board are Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald (Meeker); Ted Streuli, The Journal Record; Mike Strain, Tulsa World, and John Denny Montgomery, The Purcell Register.
Trammell has received numerous investigative awards during his 45-year career. His work has won acclaim statewide, particularly from The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Oklahoma Press Association. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in April.
“I’m excited to be part of a profession that is committed to serving in the public interest,” Trammell said. “Good journalism is essential because we provide information and news that empower people in a democracy. Oklahoma newspapers have a long tradition of outstanding public service.
“We take seriously our watchdog role of government, but also the importance of building up our communities, state and nation by providing important news, information, commentary and advertising so our citizens may be well-informed. Fairness and accuracy in reporting are essential whether the story is reported in print, broadcast, online or by social media. Technology is expanding our opportunities to serve and inform.”
The new OPA president said citizens should support local media through subscriptions and advertising because the private enterprise system is the best way to finance and guarantee a free press.
Trammell joined The Oklahoman in 1987 and was chief of the Tulsa Bureau until 1990 when he became a full-time investigative reporter for the paper. He was promoted to associate editor in 1996 and directed the newspaper’s special projects and investigations. He was named assistant managing editor in 2002, and news director in 2007.
Trammell, along with The Oklahoman’s investigative reporting team, won a first-place spot news reporting award for coverage of the federal indictments of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case; and exposed wrongdoing in the 1990 campaign ofa former Oklahomagovernor. Their scoop under the banner headline — “Governor Secretly Indicted” — was heralded as possibly the biggest political story in the paper’s history. The governor pleaded guilty in court.
Trammell personally earned back-to-back Sweepstakes awards from the AP in 1993 and 1994 for two exposés. One concerned the gross overstaffing of a state home for juveniles where 172 employees were caring for only 13 children. The other involved $40,000 in education funds being illegally funneled by a university president into a state pro-lottery campaign disguised as chamber of commerce membership dues. The president resigned.
Trammell’s journalism career began in Seminole, Okla., where he worked for many years as editor and reporter at The Seminole Producer. He started work there as a high school senior.
His investigation of Seminole County Commissioners in the mid-1970s was a forerunner of a statewide inquiry launched a few years later by federal prosecutors in what turned out to be one of the biggest cases of public corruption in American history. The Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation honored his reporting in 1976 presenting him the Beachy Musselman Award.
Trammell, 62, earned an associate degree at Seminole Junior College, bachelor’s degree from Central State University and master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Oklahoma.
He frequently lectures to college students and speaks before professional and civic groups concerning First Amendment and other press issues. He also is an adjunct professor teaching Media Ethics at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Trammell also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation and the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives, where he is a past president. He was a founding member of FOI Oklahoma Inc., which advocates freedom of information and openness in government.
Trammell and Linda, his wife of 41 years, have three grown sons and four grandchildren. He is an ordained deacon in The Episcopal Church and has served on the Diocese of Oklahoma’s Council on Missions.