April 27, 2014

Oklahoma Watch Receives First-Amendment, Eight Other Journalism Awards

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Oklahoma Watch has received one of the top special awards and eight other honors for journalistic achievement in 2013 from the Oklahoma chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Clifton Adcock

Clifton Adcock

SPJ awarded the Carter Bradley First Amendment Award to Oklahoma Watch for its December investigative story by reporter Clifton Adcock on the role of the governor’s office in the unraveling of key parts of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a law designed to address the state’s high incarceration rates.

“Adcock’s effort provided a public service that well deserves recognition,” the SPJ said in  its comments.

Warren Vieth

Warren Vieth

Warren Vieth, associate editor and reporter for Oklahoma Watch, also won first place in online writing for “A Personal Quest for Health Insurance,” in which over 77 days he tweeted about his experiences trying to purchase health insurance at healthcare.gov.

Judges praised Vieth’s approach for “going beyond simply using social media to promote news. Vieth actually used social media as the engine that drove forward reporting involving his frustrating firsthand experience of the health insurance exchange.”

Oklahoma Watch staff members and interns also won six second-place awards and a third-place award in other reporting categories, competing in the “Newspaper A” division that includes entries from the largest news organizations in the state.

Here are other awards won by Oklahoma Watch staff:

Best Reporting Portfolio: Warren Vieth, second place, for stories related to health-care issues and portraits of the uninsured.

Investigative Reporting by an Individual: Clifton Adcock, third place, for stories on “how actions by the governor’s staff led to weakened state justice reform.” Assisting Adcock was Oklahoma Watch staff member Lindsay Whelchel.

Investigative Reporting by a Team: Clifton Adcock of Oklahoma Watch and Ziva Branstetter and Curtis Killman, The Tulsa World, second place, for a two-part series on hospital finances.

In-Depth Enterprise Reporting: Warren Vieth, second place, for stories on “the uninsured and the health-care law.”

General News Reporting: Clifton Adcock, second place, for stories on “how actions by the governor’s staff led to weakened state justice reform.”

Criminal Justice Reporting: Shaun Hittle, second place, for a package on how “despite convictions and guilty pleas, law officers keep certifications for years.”

Education Reporting: Chase Cook and Darren Jaworski, second place, for a story and data on how “many low-income students may fail because of reading law.”

The complete list of winners in the annual Oklahoma SPJ contest can be found at this link.