The Eagle Receives Top Awards In Annual Oklahoma Press Association Competition

SHAWNEE – The Oklahoma Eagle – the state’s oldest Black-owned newspaper that rose from the ashes of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre – won a record number of top journalism honors in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest Awards. The post The Eagle Receives Top Awards In Annual Oklahoma Press Association Competition appeared first on The Oklahoma Eagle.

The Eagle Receives Top Awards In  Annual Oklahoma Press Association Competition

SHAWNEE – The Oklahoma Eagle – the state’s oldest Black-owned newspaper that rose from the ashes of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre – won a record number of top journalism honors in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest Awards.

The Eagle won 11 first place awards in 23 categories – besting the five won in 2022 – at the OPA Awards Banquet on Saturday, June 10, at the Grand Casino Hotel and Resort in Shawnee. The Eagle won a total of 18 awards for the OPA’s Division 4 category. It was the Eagle’s largest showing in the competition. The Eagle garnered the most first place awards of any other publication in its division.

The OPA honors comes a month after the Eagle won “Best Page Design” in the 2023 Great Plains Journalism Awards contest. For the Eagle’s first time ever to enter the Great Plains’ eight-state contest, the newspaper also was finalist in three other categories, including “Best Newspaper of the Year,” “Best Writer of the Year” and “Best Review Columnist of the Year.”

Eagle publisher James Goodwin credited the trio of the Eagle’s leadership team, principal M. David Goodwin, managing editor Gary Lee and principal Ross Johnson, who is responsible for the newspaper’s creative direction, on its digital domain and print editions.

“We’re honored that our peers recognized our work that we consider to be vitally important to our audience,” said Eagle publisher James Goodwin. “This honor affirms one of our overarching philosophies as journalists: that the value of our work is not defined by our color but by the quality of our journalism. We know we’re not recipients of these awards because we’re Black journalists. That is very limiting. We transcended that approach by pressing on to report the truth and to inform the public of the issues which affect all of us as a people. We’re grateful to be recognized as good journalists for our award-winning content, as well as for the new design changes for both our website and print edition.”

Lee received the Ray Lokey Memorial Award for Excellence in Reporting from the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation that “honors a writer whose published work exemplifies well researched, responsible and fact-driven journalism for the benefit of the community and newspaper industry.” Lee, a fifth generation Oklahoman of Creek Freedman descent, is the first African American to receive this award. It is named for third-generation publisher John Raiford “Ray” Lokey, who owned the Johnston County Capital-Democrat in Tishomingo from 1990 until his death in 2017.

“I accept this award with humility and pride,” Lee said. “I am grateful for the recognition by the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation. “I also want to express appreciation to the people of North Tulsa for trusting me to give voice to their moving personal stories.”

“Gary continues to transform the Eagle to produce important, relevant and impactful journalism that positions the newspaper to pursue issues that will lead lawmakers and community leaders to make positive changes in our community,” M. David Goodwin said. “He continues to make his hometown newspaper a better publication for our audience.”

In OPA’s Better Newspaper Contest, the Eagle was honored in the following categories:

  • First place in “Community Leadership” for a three-part series, “In The Era Of COVID-19, Tulsa Public Schools Lost A Generation Of Black And Brown Students.” The judges said they were “flabbergasted at the depth and scope of this series on such an important issue. Heartening to see the Eagle shine such light to take a stand for the good of minority students. Well done!”
  • First place for “Digital Media” for all of Oklahoma’s weekly publications’ websites. “Beautiful, newsy website. Clear winner,” the judges said. Led by principal Ross Johnson, the Eagle redesigned the website to match the styles and templates with its redesigned print edition.
  • First place for “News Content” for the July 29, Aug. 12 and Aug. 19 editions that judges said had a “sophisticated approach to news coverage with a steady diet of well-presented enterprise reporting.”
  • First place for “Editorial Writing” for these three editorials: “What is Infrastructural Racism?” “The Malicious Intent of Redacted History;” “When it comes to history, Oklahoma’s GOP needs a factual lesson plan not more anti-history bills.” The judges noted that the “subject matter of the Eagle’s editorials give the paper the edge in this competition.”
  • First place in “News Story” for Gary Lee’s story, “Philanthropists hope $1M gift inspires more help to survivors.” “Well written with good story flow, combining history and current day,” the judges noted. “Use of multiple sources was present and story was informative.” In this category, Kimberly Marsh received third place for her profile, “Chef Taylor LaTouche: Creative and adaptable.”
  • First place for “Business Story” for Kimberly Marsh’s profile, “Maria Morris: Out of hardship, a catering business is born.” She also received second place for her story, “The $190 million Envision Comanche: One of the U.S.’s largest public-private investments in public housing.”
  • First place for “Education Story” for John Neal’s coverage on controversial House Bill 1775 and story “Tulsa parent complains racial assignment caused ‘emotional stress.’” “Thorough reporting of a complicated, polarizing and tense subject. Well done,” the judge noted about Neal’s story.
  • First place for “In-Depth Reporting” for Lee for the “Mental Health: Tulsa’s Black Community” series and third place for “Of Greenwood” series. The judge complimented Lee for his mental health series saying, “Great reporting on a difficult  topic, nice writing and graphics.” For the “On Greenwood” project, the judge said: “This series is a wonderful example of writing and reporting that enriches the community by showing how history impacts the future. Great photography as well.”
  • First place for “Column Writing” for three of Ross Johnson’s columns: “What is Infrastructural Racism?” “The Malicious Intent of Redacted History;” and “State Sovereignty Does Not End At A Reservation’s Border.” The judges noted Johnson’s “strong writing that lives up to the goal of giving voice to those otherwise locked out of the American dream. Compelling calls to action.”  In this category, Dr. Maurice Franklin won second place for three columns – “Should Oklahoma’s all-Black towns still exist?” “Oklahoma Needs Critical Race Theory;” and “Looking into my Oklahoma Roots.” The judge noted that Franklin “has an engaging style that weaves personal experience and conviction with timely, relevant topics.”
  • First place for “Photo Essay/Picture Page” to Cory Young and Ross Johnson for “Memorial and BTW in hoops state finals.” “Great group of photos that tell the story of the game and the win. Awesome action shots, too,” the judge said. Young and Johnson also won third place for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade. “Great photos that capture not only the event, but the spirit of the parade and MLK Jr. Day,” the judge said.
  • First and second places for “Front Page Design” for Ross Johnson and Samantha Levrault.
  • Third place for “Sports Story” for Noah Ferguson’s profile on Etan Thomas, “Yes, this ex-NBA pro, writer and social activist has a few words to say.” The judges said: “Sports heroes aren’t necessarily defined by what they do on the court or the field. The writer had a nice touch.” Ferguson is a student at the University of Maryland, and he participated in a journalism class, “On the Ground Reporting,” which was a first-time collaborative initiative with the University of Maryland, the University of Wisconsin and The Oklahoma Eagle to have students report remotely on the Tulsa community.

DeNeen L. Brown, an associate professor at University of Maryland and staff writer for The Washington Post, taught the class with M. David Goodwin and Lee. She is not surprised that Ferguson’s story was recognized.

“The final stories by students were published to acclaim in an outstanding series in The Oklahoma Eagle,” said Brown, an Oklahoma native.

The Eagle also received the “Perfecta Award” that honors OPA member newspapers that achieve 100% accuracy on advertising orders from the Oklahoma Press Service in 2022.

Members of the Hoosier State Press Association judged almost 1,550 entries from 77 Oklahoma news publications.

The Eagle competes in the OPA’s Division 4, which includes weekly newspapers serving communities with populations of more than 12,000 people.

“This honor is a reminder that we are indebted to a long tradition of journalists that began with our founders Theodore and Rosalie Baughman in 1922 and continued with my great-grandfather James Henri Goodwin and my grandfather Edward L. Goodwin Sr. in 1937,” M. David Goodwin said. “We believe our content remains consistent with our motto, ‘We Make America Better When We Aid Our People.’”

Other journalists honored at the OPA’s convention included,

  • Susan Ellerbach, the former executive editor of the Tulsa World, who received the H. Milt Phillips Award. After graduating from the University of Kansas and working for newspapers in Kansas and Tahlequah, Ellerbach joined the World in 1985 and worked in several reporting and editing roles until she made history in 2014 to become the first woman to be named executive editor, a post she held until retiring in 2020.
  • John Small, managing editor at the Johnston County Sentinel, received the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation’s Beachy Musselman Award. Small founded the Sentinel with Tom and Mary Lokey after Ray Lokey’s death in 2017 forced the closure of the Johnston County Capital-Democrat. Small has won nearly 250 awards from the OPA, the Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations.
  • David Stringer, of The Lawton Constitution, received the “Editorial Sweepstakes Award.”
  • Sheila Gay, of Woodward News, received the “Column Sweepstakes Award.”
  • Kyle Phillips, of The Norman Transcript, received the “Daily, Semi- or Weekly Photo of the Year.”
  • LaDonna Rhodes, of the McIntosh County Democrat, received the “Weekly Photo of the Year Award.”
  • Ed Godfrey, of The Oklahoman, received the “ONF Joseph H. Edwards Outdoor Writer of the Year.”
  • Stillwater News Press produced two magazines to win the “OPA Magazine Contest.”
  • Brenda Adams, a longtime advertising professional at several newspapers, and Joyce Carney, publisher of the Country Connection in Eakly, were inducted into the OPA’s “Half Century Club.”
  • Jeff Mayo, publisher of the Sequoyah County Times and six other newspapers, and J.D. Meisner, publisher of the Cushing Citizen and two other newspapers, were inducted into OPA’s “Quarter Century Club.”

Lend us a hand in 2023 

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, I was hoping you would consider taking the step of supporting The Oklahoma Eagle’s journalism.  

From the various media outlets in our market, to a small number of billionaire owners and private equity firms have a powerful hold on so much of the information that reaches the public about what’s happening in the world. The Eagle stives to be different. We have no billionaire owner or shareholders to consider. Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest – not profit motives. 

And we avoid the trap that befalls much U.S. media – the tendency, born of a desire to please all sides, to engage in false equivalence in the name of neutrality. While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and injustices. When we report on issues like the mental health crisis in the Black community, the ongoing issues with public education and the political discord and troubling legislation being enacted at the Oklahoma statehouse, we’re not afraid either to name or hold those individuals responsible for problems that work against improving the lives of Black people.  

Around this nation, our readers can access the Eagle’s paywall-free journalism. Our readers keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence and accessible to everyone – whether they can afford to pay for news, or not. 

If you can, please consider supporting the Eagle today. Thank you. 

James O. Goodwin, publisher 

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