Commentary: A win for community journalism 

jennifer_chancellor.jpg

Society of Professional Journalists named Oklahoma Gazette the best newspaper in Oklahoma during its recent 2017 awards gala in Stillwater.

Gazette competed in the statewide Oklahoma Pro Chapter contest’s largest newspaper division, earning first place in the Best of the Best / Best Newspaper division; The Oklahoman earned second, and Tulsa World took home third.

Journalists often make fun of themselves for being “word people not math people,” but conversations with past Gazette editors and management show this is only the second time our paper has earned the top honor in about 25 years, if not longer.

Our success is the community’s success, and I want to thank every reader, staff member, reporter, independent journalist, photographer, intern, supporter, sponsor, social media follower, advertiser and especially the University of Oklahoma’s student journalists at the OU Daily who embraced our innovative content co-development partnership for our “4/20” issue.

Thank you.

And thank you to our Society of Professional Journalists colleagues in Connecticut, who judged Oklahoma’s SPJ entries.

Of the Best of the Best / Best News paper win, judges said, in part:

“The Gazette is the future. Impressive execution of the marijuana issue and especially applaud their partnering with another news organization to increase their depth of coverage. It’s that kind of forward thinking that assures the Gazette will lead the future.

Gazette staffers appear to have a good sense of their audience interests, covering hot-button issues of the moment — what people are talking and arguing about. … The editorial team is clearly investing time coming up with creative approaches to storylines, as evident with the Jabee feature.

“Local content is king with this operation — from news, culture and arts to music coverage. And they’ve wisely bought into the idea that food and dining is a chief source of entertainment for their readers.

“All this coupled with good design, great use of photos and graphics to draw in readers, the Gazette delivers.”

The awards are presented annually to Oklahoma print, online, radio and television news organizations. SPJ is a broad-based national journalism organization founded in 1909 with the core belief “that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.”

The Gazette is an independently owned, family-run alternative newsweekly founded in 1979 by local attorney and businessman Bill Bleakley, who still runs the paper with his wife Linda Meoli.

Gazette staff also earned awards for photojournalism and news, entertainment and leisure reporting:

Best of the Best Best Newspaper (Newspaper A) First Place, Oklahoma Gazette staff Submissions: 4/20 issue, Jabee’s powerful Black Future

Best of the Best Best Photographer First Place, Oklahoma Gazette Garett Fisbeck portfolio: Jabee’s powerful Black Future, Stronger sex, Sister act, Summer Lovin’, Time Warp

Entertainment Feature First Place, Oklahoma Gazette Ben Luschen: Public Enemy’s Chuck D says Woody Guthrie’s spirit lives on in OKC rapper Jabee’s new album

Leisure Writing Second Place, Oklahoma Gazette Greg Elwell: Brunch bible: Your guide to metro brunch

General News Reporting Third Place, Oklahoma Gazette Laura Eastes: What does poverty look like?

Entertainment Feature Third Place, Oklahoma Gazette Ben Luschen: Stronger sex: Ebony Iman Dallas’ powerful new exhibit celebrates Women in War Zones

See and read our winning entries online at okgazette.com.

Jennifer Palmer Chancellor is editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Gazette. 

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