Oklahoma Gazette Earns an Array of Awards and Accolades

Oklahoma Gazette received 18 honors at the 2009 Oklahoma Pro Chapter’s Society of Professional Journalists awards, including five firsts, six seconds, five thirds and two honorable mentions in Division A, which includes publications with a circulation of more than 25,000.

The Gazette earned second in the Best Newspaper category behind the Tulsa World and ahead of The Oklahoman, which placed third, and the Muskogee Phoenix, which received honorable mention. The Gazette has placed second during four of the last six years in this category competing against those daily newspapers.

Gazette Publisher Bill Bleakley heralded the awards as recognition of the newspaper staff’s commitment to quality journalism.

“It’s part of our mission to be an independent source of news and information that’s meaningful and relevant to our readers,” Bleakley said. “We deeply appreciate the judges’ recognition of our efforts.”

Journalists from two out-of-state SPJ chapters, the Pittsburgh Pro Chapter and the Utah Headliners Club, judged the statewide contest’s more than 1,200 entries. Awards were announced Feb. 20 at Rocky’s in Bricktown.

Rod Lott, Gazette managing editor, won first place in Entertainment Feature for “Boody call,” a profile of comic-book trailblazer Boody Rogers.

“Interesting feature on an obscure cartoonist who achieved recognition late in life,” judges said of the entry, which was one of three Gazette winners in that category.

Phil Bacharach, a Gazette contributing writer, earned first place in Arts Criticism for the following film reviews: “Tanks for the memories” (a review of “Waltz with Bashir”), “Dying to live” (his review of “Synecdoche, New York”) and “What a girl wants” (his review of “Coraline”). Judges said Bacharach’s reviews had “excellent structure,” providing “a glimpse of film without giving plot away.”

In Science, Technology and Environmental Reporting, Gazette contributing writer C.G. Niebank won first for “The green hereafter” on eco-friendly burials. Judges said the “great topic” was an “enjoyable read — very informative.”

Gazette contributing writer Ben Fenwick won top honors in Leisure Writing with “Literary libations,” a piece about the drinks of authors with Okie ties and where to get them.

“Brilliant story idea,” judges said. “And it wasn’t just the idea, but the way it was executed that was exceptional — each author, their Oklahoma ties, drink recipes and passages from writing. Fenwick really penetrated the themes of writing, land and drink, and it resulted in a new picture of each author and what he was about.”
For Use of Graphic Illustration, contributing artist Chad Crowe took top honors for “Mourning Dailies,” detailing the plight of daily newspapers.

“The ability to draw is underrated,” judges said. “It is refreshing to see well-crafted, hand-rendered illustrations in newspapers today.”

Here is a list of other SPJ honorees listed by category:

—Business Feature: second, Scott Cooper, “DIY XXX” about amateur pornography; honorable mention, Editor-in-Chief Rob Collins, “Mourning dailies” feature;
—Entertainment Feature: second, contributing writer Becky Carman’s Hanson feature “Walking tall”; honorable mention, contributing writer Niebank, “Magic Wanda,” a profile of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Wanda Jackson;
—Health Reporting: second, staff writer Cooper, “Nico-teen” regarding Oklahoma’s high teen smoking rates; third, contributing writer Greg Horton, “Blood oath” about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban of gay men from giving blood;
—Science, Technology and Environmental Reporting: second, contributing writer Carol Cole-Frowe, “Swimming in it” on what contaminated the Oklahoma River;
—Diversity Reporting: second, staff writer Jenny Coon Peterson, “Pioneer woman” on transgendered attorney Brittany Novotny;
—Political/Governmental Reporting: third, contributing writer Fenwick, “It’s a conspiracy,” covering comments from state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City;
—Editorial/Commentary: third, Bleakley, “Kirk, Karl, what were you thinking?” commentary on Oklahoma City Public Schools’ 2007 bond issue;
—Education Reporting: third, Cooper, “Silo snafu” about the OKC school district’s claim of a $40 million budget shortfall;
—Page One Layout and Design: third, art director Chris Street and staff photographer Shannon Cornman, “State of weight” obesity article by former managing editor Susan Grossman.


The Gazette won four first place awards, four seconds, one third and one honorable mention at the 2009 Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

Winners, judged by the Colorado Press Association, were announced Feb. 5 at the Reed Center in Midwest City.

The Rocketplane series by Cooper and Fenwick won first in In-Depth Enterprise at the OPA contest.
“This was a topic that the Gazette had thoroughly followed, and that expertise was apparent,” judges wrote. “The writing was lively, the timeline broke out good chunks of information and the narrative breaks were well-placed.”

OPA awarded first in Feature Writing to the following Gazette entries: “Varmint vittles” and “Redeem thyself!” by Greg Elwell and “Like a virgin” by Horton.

The Gazette’s annual Dachshund Dash event won first in Community Leadership.

“What an original idea to draw attention to a great cause!” judges wrote.

The Gazette also won first place in Layout & Design at OPA.

“You guys are way ahead of your competition,” judges wrote. “Your staff clearly has a strong aesthetic. Great use of images. Love your body copy and heads. Very attractive!”

Rounding out the OPA contest, the Gazette placed second in News Content, News Writing, Advertising, Sales Promotion, third in Sports Coverage and received an honorable mention in Editorial Comment.


The Gazette was the recipient of several honors at the 44th annual ADDY Awards presented Feb. 27 by the Oklahoma City Ad Club.

In the Print Best Special Event Material category, Jill Brown, marketing director, and Mandy Hendrickson, former production director, won a gold ADDY Award for the Dachshund Dash.
“Tiny Cow,” credited to Street and Collins, won a gold ADDY Award for Publication Design Cover.

Covers titled “Structural support,” “Redeem thyself!” and “The Green Issue” earned a Silver Award for Publication Design Series, with credits to Street, Cornman, Brown, Associate Publisher Jeffri-Lynn Dyer, Entertainment Editor Joe Wertz and Lott.

The Woody Awards received a Silver Award in the Newspaper Self-Promotion Campaign category, with credits to graphic designer Paul Mays, Kimberley Christensen, production director, and Brown.

For Newspaper Campaign Black and White, Bellini’s – Simply the Best Italian earned a Silver Award with credits to Street and Julie Wilson, account manager.

The Ghouls Gone Wild parade tee by Sarah Leis, graphic designer, received a Silver Award in Specialty Advertising Apparel. In the Collateral Material Poster Single category, the Ghouls Gone Wild parade poster earned a Bronze Award, with credits to Street, Christensen and Brown.