The Oklahoman has been honored nationally by the Society of Professional Journalists for two online efforts on NewsOK.com, it was announced Monday. The Sigma Delta Chi Awards honor outstanding journalism from across the country. The Oklahoman’s staff was recognized for “Public Service in Online Journalism” for its “know it” and “Your Right to Know” projects. Kelly Dyer Fry, vice president of The Oklahoman’s News and Information Center, said both projects fit in with the newspaper’s mission statement, which is to make a difference in people’s lives. "Our ‘Your Right to Know’ site as well as all our ‘know it’ series bring a wealth of information to the public,” Fry said. "Our goal was to take topics important to Oklahomans and define the world of information surrounding those topics. We devoted resources from throughout the News and Information Center to ensure we thoroughly covered a topic from beginning to end. From videos, to databases, to personal stories, the ‘know its’ connect people to information.” The two major online initiatives were launched in 2008 as service-oriented, print-online projects. The intent of the “know it” projects is to make a positive impact on Oklahomans' lives by pooling The Oklahoman’s information-gathering resources behind a topic that has a profound effect on the community. Several “know its” involve multiple in-depth stories, personal accounts and video on serious topics such as cancer, mental health and addiction. Others were about topics of community conversation such as parenting, youth sports, outdoor recreation and even one on unusual occurrences and locations in Oklahoma. The projects pull together the research, reporting and aggregation of resources to help Oklahomans navigate a given topic from beginning to end, defining that topic as it relates to Oklahoma. Topics continue to grow, and so do the Web presence of each. As intended, they have become an online encyclopedia of community conversation, information, contacts, interactive video and links to resources on the Web. "Your Right to Know" was launched originally as the first “know it” to provide readers with a collection of online databases created by The Oklahoman and also included public records, open government links, news feeds and a blog by Database Editor Paul Monies called "DataWatch." It appeared during “Sunshine Week” in March 2008 at the same time when the Oklahoma Supreme Court passed a rule limiting the public's online access to court filings. The move prompted widespread outcry, and The Oklahoman and its “Your Right to Know” played key roles in covering the story and providing the public with access to their open records and First Amendment rights. After two weeks, the Supreme Court rescinded its rule and put the issue under further study. “Your Right to Know” has since evolved and was integrated this year into NewsOK's "Watchdog" site. The award will be presented at the society’s national convention Aug. 27-30 in Indianapolis. Judges chose winners from more than 900 entries in 53 categories, including print, radio, television and online. Some other newspapers recognized in the 2008 Sigma Delta Chi Awards include The New York Times, St. Petersburg Times and The Denver Post. The Sigma Delta Chi Award is the first online journalism award that The Oklahoman has won from the national SPJ chapter. The Oklahoman won two print awards in "Deadline Reporting" and "Spot News Photography" in 1996 for its coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
Your Right to Know