The Shawnee News-Star captured two first place honors in this year’s Society of Professional Journalists Oklahoma Pro Chapter competition. The awards were presented during the annual SPJ banquet in Oklahoma City on Saturday evening, April 21.
The News-Star placed first with the Best News Website in the state, competing in that category with the state’s top publications.
“This is a huge, exciting honor for us,” said News-Star publisher Brian Blansett. “We were competing against the websites for the Oklahoma City and Tulsa newspapers and television stations, who have a lot more manpower and resources at their disposal.
“Our staff works hard on our website and takes a lot of pride in it, so it’s gratifying to have our peers say we’re the best.”
In the editorial category, News-Star editor Mike McCormick captured first place with his editorial titled “Commission may be making a huge mistake.” It criticized Shawnee’s city commission for going to Stillwater for a retreat in October of 2011, rather than staying in Shawnee, which would have provided much easier access for the public it serves to attend.
“A newspaper’s editorial voice is its backbone, so we’re really proud of Mike winning first place. His editorials are consistently strong and well-written,” Blansett said.
Three other members of the News-Star team also captured awards in this year’s competition. Blansett won second place in personal columns with his “Mother took sense of humor seriously.”
News-Star’s chief photographer Ed Blochowiak placed third in sports photography with “IFYR bareback rider hangs on.” Reporter Kory Oswald was third in Education reporting with “Holocaust Survivor: Dallas lecturer shares his story with local students.”
The News-Star, in all but the Website competition, is in the second highest division, competing with newspapers up to 25,000 circulation. In the Website category, the paper competed in the top division.