Oklahoma Watch captured three awards from the Oklahoma chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for stories and multimedia published in 2012.

Contributing writer and editor Warren Vieth won second place in criminal justice reporting and third place in investigative reporting by an individual for his article titled “Prescription drugs drive overdose deaths.” Vieth’s story was part of an Oklahoma Watch series, “State of Addiction,” that examined the state’s severe problem with abuse of prescription painkillers.

“Drug overdoses now kill more Oklahomans than motor vehicle accidents, an average of two per day,” Vieth reported. “Four in five of the victims overdose on widely prescribed medications found in tens of thousands of Oklahoma households.

“The grim statistics help explain why Oklahoma was ranked the No. 1 state in the nation in prescription painkiller abuse last year.”

Oklahoma Watch also placed third in investigative reporting by a team for coverage of the state’s fast-rising Hispanic population and its effects on small communities. The series included a story by Ron J. Jackson Jr. on racial tensions in the town of Heavener; an analysis of the statewide trend by Katherine Borgerding and Juan Sanchez, and data visualizations by Darren Jaworski.

“The rapid growth (of Hispanics) …. points toward a multicultural future that some Oklahomans consider invigorating, but others find unsettling,” Borgerding wrote.

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