Bill Bleakley Elected to Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame

A Vietnam War vet, former Guam Daily News editor and longtime lawyer is receiving Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame honors: Oklahoma Gazette founder and publisher Bill Bleakley.

Oklahoma Gazette founder and publisher Bill Bleakley will take his place among the highest honored state journalists after being named as a 2008 inductee to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place April 4 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

“I share this recognition with the many staff members whose efforts achieved the successes of our publications while adhering to the highest journalistic standards,” Bleakley said.

Bleakley started the Gazette in 1979 and has built it into the largest general-circulation weekly in Oklahoma. More than 57,000 copies of the Gazette are distributed weekly throughout Central Oklahoma.

On Oct. 15, 1979, the first issue of the Gazette hit the racks. It started as a bimonthly publication with a circulation of about 2,000, billed as a “journal of contributions to Oklahoma’s quality of life.” In 1986, the Gazette became a weekly newspaper.

Besides the Gazette, Bleakley acquired a biweekly business newspaper, OKCBusiness, in 2003, and formed an umbrella company for all of his papers, Tierra Media Group, in 2007.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Bleakley served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and worked for Guam Daily News as night editor and a columnist. He went on to earn a law degree from OU. Bleakley both published the Gazette and practiced law until 2003, when he sold the law firm.

Along with Bleakley, the 2008 class includes OETA anchor Gerry Bonds, The Oklahoman reporter and editor Ann DeFrange, Cameron University journalism professor emeritus Donna Barron Evers, Tulsa World operations manager Bill Harper, Associated Press Oklahoma chief of bureau Lindel G. Hutson, The Oklahoman photographer Paul B. Southerland, and Hennessey Clipper co-publishers Barbara A. Walter and Bill Walter.

“I’m privileged to join the men and women in the Journalism Hall of Fame who have served as the conscience and the sentries of Oklahoma’s government and society,” Bleakley said. “It further enhances my sense of obligation to support the mission of the free press in our state.”

According to a press release, honorees are chosen by a committee comprised of members of the working press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hall of Fame. The committee sorts through nominations, both new and those remaining from previous years, then selects nine honorees. Citations recognizing the inductees are framed and displayed in the journalism building at UCO. The university’s mass communication department hosts and administrates of the Hall of Fame.

“The annual ceremony has become an informal homecoming for distinguished previous honorees,” said Terry M. Clark, chairman of UCO’s mass communication department, in the release. “The Hall is a virtual who’s who of Oklahoma journalism, and the crowd will be filled with the giants of the profession.”