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A sign featuring the signatures of supporters hangs in the NonDoc newsroom. (NonDoc)
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Ready or not, here we come.

After six weeks of work that did not involve writing a single news story, I am excited to announce the return of NonDoc.com.

NonDoc is an independent journalism website that I helped start in 2015 and came to co-own with childhood friends Rosemary Meacham-Zittel and Ashiq Zaman. I have been privileged to lead the site during some of Oklahoma’s most tumultuous political years in recent history, and it pained me to suspend operations for December 2018 as we pursued better financial footing.

Thanks to important advertising commitments from more than a dozen entities — small businesses, trade associations and nonprofits — as well as support from more than 130 individuals, NonDoc is positioned to continue coverage of the Oklahoma Legislature while attempting to expand its reach and scope across the state.

Before we begin doing so Monday during the inauguration festivities for new Gov. Kevin Stitt, we thought it appropriate to make a few key announcements about NonDoc.

First: Announcing advertisers

Much like traditional media, NonDoc relies upon advertising as its primary source of revenue. In attempting to relaunch our site and coverage, we spent the final month of 2018 and the first two weeks of 2019 solidifying advertising commitments that would ensure our ability to operate.

To that end, dozens of companies, entities and organizations were pitched advertising packages for six months covering January through June.

The following entities have agreed to ad packages at varying levels, and we are grateful for their recognition that advertising locally can support local journalism:

While some may be skeptical about a news site featuring advertising from politically inclined entities, we are thrilled to announce that our largest individual funder for NonDoc’s relaunch is also our most important: You, the readers, who rallied together to contribute more than $8,000 to support our efforts in only three days.

Lastly, the support of readers and the advertisers listed above means NonDoc will no longer host Google advertisements, which pay independent publications poorly and occasionally place odd ads on sites.

Second: New year, new team

From left to right, new faces for NonDoc in 2019 pose with William W. Savage III, editor in chief: Ben White, student editor; Angela Jones, client relations manager; Graham Brewer, contributing editor; and Matt Patterson, staff reporter. (Josh McBee)

Talented people create dynamic organizations.

With our relaunch at the start of 2019, we are thrilled to announce the addition of several talented people who readers and supporters will have a chance to get to know better in the coming months.

Angela Jones (@IndiAngelaJones) is NonDoc’s new client relations manager, a position that focuses on the needs of our advertising clients and communicates with our Writers’ Fund supporters. Angela takes over for Amy Stinnett who filled this position admirably but will now focus 100 percent of her energy on law school. Welcome, Angela! Best of luck, Amy!

Matt Patterson (@MattPattOKC) is NonDoc’s first staff reporter, dedicating his time to telling stories and providing information that Oklahomans want to and need to have. Matt worked at The Oklahoman for 13 years and has spent the past three months on a “glorious and restorative” Phil Anschutz-funded vacation.

Graham Lee Brewer (@GrahamBrewer) is NonDoc’s new contributing editor, helping recruit and manage diverse commentary voices from a range of contributors. He will also edit Capitol coverage and freelance news articles, some of which have already been assigned to reporters like Heide Brandes and Kristi Eaton, whose talents are again available to NonDoc owing to financial support from readers.

Ben White (@Gingermin_White) served as an editorial intern for NonDoc from May through November 2018, covering Oklahoma elections and profiling hundreds of candidates for office. Now, Ben returns to NonDoc as a student editor, assisting with coverage of the Oklahoma Legislature, managing content the site will publish from Gaylord News students and helping expand multimedia and social media operations.

Speaking of the words “Gaylord” and “students,” we are excited to announce the onboarding of three spring-semester interns from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications. We will publish a post detailing those students and their exciting paid internships soon.

Third: A goodbye

Josh McBee mans a desk with promotional materials during a July 2017 growth party at a residence in Oklahoma City. (Rosemary Meacham-Zittel)

If you know Josh McBee, you know he would prefer someone else announce his departure from NonDoc via tiny blurb buried toward the end of a post about positive site developments.

So that’s what we’re going to do, if I can keep this short.

Josh has been my invaluable right-hand man at NonDoc since this journey began. We met nerding out over newspaper design circa 2004 at the Norman Transcript, and he came to lead layout of the OU Daily for me and a slew of award-winning journalists while earning his master’s degree from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In subsequent years, we both left journalism to pursue other interests before reuniting in 2015 to operate a little experiment originally called NonDoctrine.com. Now, at the end of this month, Josh feels called to step away, and I fully support his decision. I also appreciate his sacrifice for this endeavor more than anyone, as he has made my byline possible for more than three years.

Fourth: A Savage by any other name

Speaking of my byline in 2019, you may also notice it has changed from William W. Savage III to Tres Savage, the nickname my parents bestowed upon me at birth so as not to have another William in the family.

For those curious, I chose to use my full legal name at NonDoc’s launch because it had always been my journalistic byline dating back to the early 2000s when social media did not exist and I figured most newspaper readers would struggle to pronounce Tres as “Trace” in their minds. Now, I figure my presence as Tres Savage on social media might as well line up with my byline.

Whoever said change was bad, anyway?

Thank you for your support in 2019.

(Update: This post was updated at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, to remove one previously listed advertiser and add two others.)