, Muskogee, OK

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Local News

April 23, 2013

Peers honor Phoenix as best of state’s small newspapers

— The Muskogee Phoenix won first place in the Best Newspaper category in its division at the Society of Professional Journalists awards banquet Saturday in Tulsa.

Judges said: “Muskogee knows the big stories. Whether gang violence or an election, they throw the full weight of their newsroom behind what readers need to know, want to know and are going to talk about.”

Five Phoenix staff members won four first-place awards, including:

• D.E. Smoot for Science, Technology, Health and Environmental Reporting headlined, “Water woes widen at lakes.”

• Wendy Burton and Dylan Goforth in Criminal Justice Reporting for their story headlined, “Better option for meth.”

• Elizabeth Ridenour in General News Reporting for her story headlined, “A killer’s conscience.”

• Ed Choate for Editorial/Commentary for the editorial headlined, “Students deserve appeals process.”

Smoot also placed second in Government Reporting, Election Reporting and Spot News.

Mike Kays placed second in Sports Column and third in Sports Feature.

Cathy Spaulding placed second in General Photography.

The Phoenix competed in the under 25,000 circulation category.

Omer Gillham, a reporter at the Tulsa World for 14 years, was honored posthumously with the chapter’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mark Thomas, the executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, received the Carter Bradley First Amendment Award. OPA is the trade association of more than 200 daily and weekly newspapers in the state.

Kevin Armstrong, a journalism instructor at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa from 2008 to 2013, was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award. During his time at ORU, Armstrong also served as faculty adviser to the student newspaper, The Oracle, and yearbook, The Perihelion.

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