Oklahoma Watch journalists received 10 awards, including six first-place honors, in the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists competition for work published in 2015.
First place awards went to Nate Robson in investigative reporting by an individual and in education reporting; M. Scott Carter and Clifton Adcock in investigative reporting by a team; Brad Gibson in best radio reporting portfolio and diversity reporting on radio, and Warren Vieth and Mark Lash in business reporting.
Robson’s top honors stemmed from his series entitled “The Punishment Gap,” about disparities in school discipline of special-education students. He also placed second in best reporting portfolio, which included stories about a surge in homeless students and graduation rates.
Carter and Adcock won for their investigation (“Prisoners of Debt”) into the enormous fines and fees that the criminal justice system loads on inmates and their families. Adcock and Ben Fenwick were second in investigative reporting by a team for a series on law enforcement practices of civil asset forfeiture (“Stop and Seize”), in which authorities seize money and property without filing a criminal charge. Adcock won third in best reporting portfolio, which also included stories on mental health.
Gibson grabbed top honors for his series of four-minute radio segments, the “Oklahoma Watch Report,” that air on public radio stations around the state. His pieces covered the long wait for state aid for parents of the developmentally disabled, teacher salaries and civil asset forfeiture.
Vieth and Lash were honored for a revealing series on business incentives and tax breaks (“Business Breaks”), which are under scrutiny because of a state budget crisis.
An Oklahoma Watch team of staff and student journalists captured second for a multimedia story related to the national outcry over a racist fraternity chant incident at the University of Oklahoma. The story, “Beyond the Racist Chant: The Facts About Black Inequality,” featured text, interactive charts and video by Adcock, Robson, Carter and Fenwick as well as Victor Henderson and Arianna Pickard, then students at OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.