Writers for The Oklahoman won three First Amendment Awards this past weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Competing against other large-market print publications in Texas and Oklahoma, The Oklahoman won three of 10 categories in a competition hosted by the Fort Worth Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
That was more first-place awards than any other publication. The Oklahoman had seven finalists, including the top award winners. That also was more than any other publication.
“These stories are the heartbeat of our organization,” said Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news at The Oklahoman.
“Openness in government and giving a voice to the voiceless is at the core of our mission. These are the stories that touch lives. We are humbled to be honored by our peers.”
The Oklahoman won top honors in the “Defending the Disadvantaged” category for a series of articles by Nolan Clay, Robby Trammell and Randy Ellis that disclosed problems within Oklahoma's child welfare system.
“The Oklahoman is vigilant and the public benefits,” judges wrote, citing the newspaper's reporting efforts as “an excellent example of staying with a story and the kind of results it can bring.”
Ellis won another first-place award in the general news category for stories that exposed dangers to children in the state's juvenile justice system created when the state closed its only maximum-security juvenile correctional center.
Owen Canfield of The Oklahoman won the top First Amendment Award in the opinion or commentary category for editorials he wrote opposing an Oklahoma Supreme Court proposal to restrict full addresses and full birth dates from public court records.