History of the OPA
To understand the future of the Oklahoma Press Association, you must look to its past. Born from a merger between the Indian Territory Press Association and the Oklahoma Territory Press Association in 1906, OPA has been working on behalf of Oklahoma newspapers longer than we've been a state.
While its roots may be humble, today's Oklahoma Press Association is a strong, dynamic organization.
"The Oklahoma Press Association has a long and proud history," says Mark Thomas, executive vice-president. "It's that colorful, vibrant past which laid the foundation for our future."
Although it was several years before OPA hired its first manager, the association has been led by many legends of Oklahoma journalists.
These men and women built OPA from a mere social organization to a national leader among trade associations.
It wasn't long after OPA's birth that began its first major project: the founding of the Oklahoma Historical Society on May 27, 1893.
From there, OPA has continued to work to improve Oklahoma journalism and, in the process, contribute to our state's history.
In fact, the first long distance telephone call ever made between Oklahoma and San Francisco was made by OPA officials on May 8, 1915.
Since that time, OPA has had many "firsts." And it isn't afraid of controversy.
During the organization's first Mid-Winter Convention in January of 1917, members heard noted temperance crusader Carrie Nation harangue publishers about the evil of accepting liquor advertisements.
In addition, OPA hired its first manager – then known as a field manager – in 1928.
In 1929 a permanent Central Office was opened.
During 1930 it began the Better Newspaper Contest and, in 1933, the association moved its headquarters from a basement location at the University of Oklahoma to a single room in the Biltmore Hotel.
While many other associations struggled to keep afloat during the Great Depression, OPA continued to serve its member newspapers.
The years have been good to OPA, but they weren't always easy. We've had our share of controversy and problems, yet we've continued to grow.
In 1961, the association moved into its current headquarters at 3601 North Lincoln Boulevard. Constructed at an original cost of $285,000, OPA paid for its mortgage in four years and five months, instead of taking the full ten years on the note.
OPA was only the second newspaper trade association in the country to own its own building.
Since that time, OPA has invested heavily in technology and developed new and better ways to educate its member newspapers.
In short, our best years are ahead.
"We've come a long, long way," says Thomas. "And we look forward to the future."