Oklahoma Gazette won the Oklahoma Press Association's highest honor, the Sequoyah Award, in its first year of eligibility in the 2008 Better Newspaper Contest.
Published by Bill Bleakley and owned by Tierra Media Group, Gazette competed with sustaining member publications in Division 9 of the contest, which was judged by the Hoosier State Press Association. The OPA announced winners Feb. 6 at the Doubletree Hotel in Tulsa.
Gazette won first place in eight of a dozen categories " News Content, Layout & Design, Advertising, Sales Promotion, In-Depth Enterprise, Personal Columns, Feature Writing and Photography. The weekly publication placed second in Editorial Comment, third in Community Leadership and fourth in News Writing.
"Great covers," judges wrote. "It's tough for others in this category to compete with a quality alternative weekly. Great photography. Clever headlines. The food feature is well-done.
"Wish our paper could attract all those plastic surgeon ads."
Staff writer Ben Fenwick's embedded coverage in Iraq comprised the In-Depth Enterprise Category.
"This series of stories is the best example of Ernie Pyle I've ever seen," judges wrote. "The writer pays close attention to detail, carefully choosing words and painting a picture that those who aren't there can see through their mind's eye through Fenwick's flawless writing. This is a read that kept me captivated from beginning to end."
SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS
Gazette earned 12 honors competing in the annual contest presented by the Society of Professional Journalists' Oklahoma Professional Chapter Jan. 31 at the Crowne Plaza in Tulsa. The Utah and Ohio SPJ chapters judged the contest.
Competing in the largest division of newspapers, photographer Shannon Cornman won first for "Architectural digest" in the Story/Photo Essay category.
"The scope, variety and mastery of these pictures is as engaging and informing as it can be," judges wrote. "(We) envied any designer who had the privilege of working with these images. Magnificent."
In the online competition, Fenwick took top honors for his "Ben There" blog.
Gazette earned a pair of second place honors with Fenwick's "Oklahoma's 45th in Iraq" in In-Depth Enterprise Reporting/Individual and publisher Bleakley's "Abolishing the auditor's office" in Editorial Commentary.
Third-place honors were awarded to five individual Gazette entries: Emily Jerman for "Reading, 'riting, resignation" in Education Reporting, Entertainment Editor Joe Wertz for "Hating Hinder" in Entertainment Feature, Food Editor Carol Smaglinski for "Chow lines" in the new Leisure Writing category, Cornman for "Mind over matter" in Feature Photography and Fenwick for Best Reporting Portfolio.
Gazette placed third for Best Newspaper behind the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman.
Staff writer Scott Cooper, treasurer of SPJ's Oklahoma chapter, earned honorable mention for "NBA OKC" in In-Depth Enterprise Reporting/Individual and for "Sober justice" in Criminal Justice Reporting. Cooper is the chapter's immediate past president and now serves as director of SPJ's Region 8, which covers Oklahoma and Texas.
Tierra Media Group's OKCBiz (formerly OKCBusiness), received 15 awards at the SPJ contest. Competing in Division C, the publication won the Best Newspaper award.
OKCBiz Editor-in-Chief Heidi Rambo Centrella received first place for Business Feature writing and third place for Best Reporting Portfolio.
Real Estate Editor Pamela A. Grady received second place in Health Reporting, Business Reporting and In-Depth Enterprise reporting.
Contributing writer Randall Turk received first place in General News reporting, Health Reporting, Business Reporting and Best Reporting Portfolio. Turk received second place in Education Reporting and honorable mention in Business Feature writing.
Cornman received first place in General Photography and Best Photographic Portfolio. TMG Chief Photographer Mark Hancock received third place in Best Photographic Portfolio.
Tierra Media Group earned two Gold ADDY Awards, two Silver Merit Awards and three Bronze Merit Awards Feb. 14 at the 43rd Annual Oklahoma City ADDY Awards at the Renaissance Hotel/Oklahoma City Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
Gold ADDY Awards went to Gazette's "Moore movies" (Best Use of Photography, print) for work by Cornman, Art Director Chris Street and TMG Managing Editor Rod Lott and to "Viva la Midtown!" (Publication Design, Editorial Spread) in OKCBiz's Spaces magazine for work by graphic designer Sarah Leis, photographer David McNeese and contributing writer Mike Robertson.
Silver Merit Awards were given to Gazette's "Best of OKC" house ad campaign (Newspaper Self-Promotion campaign) by graphic designer Kimberley Christensen and TMG Marketing Director Jill Brown and to the OKCBiz "Spaces" cover (Publication Design, Cover) by Street, McNeese and graphic designer Paul Mays.
Bronze Merit Awards went to Gazette's "Nico-teen" cover (Publication Design, Cover) by Leis, Cornman and Lott, to "Soundcheck" postcard (Direct Marketing) by Christensen and Brown and to Gazette's Ghouls Gone Wild commercial/video (Animation or Special Effects) by illustrator/designer Brad Gregg. "Gazette staff