Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman shared two first-place awards in the eight-state Great Plains Journalism Awards 2015 competition.

The awards, announced Monday at the annual Great Plains conference in Tulsa, were for project/investigative reporting and general news reporting.

The recipients were reporter Warren Vieth of Oklahoma Watch, and reporters Jaclyn Cosgrove and Andrew Knittle and editor Phil O’Connor of The Oklahoman.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Clifton Adcock received a finalist award for Great Plains writer of the year and beat reporting, and reporter Nate Robson won a finalist award for beat reporting. Executive Editor David Fritze and Vieth received finalist awards for news package.

The awards shared by Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman were for an April 4, 2014, investigative package, Addicted Oklahoma, which focused on systemic problems contributing to Oklahoma’s prescription drug overdose crisis.

The Great Plains judges included these comments:

“In a category (project/investigative reporting) that featured some excellent reporting, this project stood out. The team covered this story from unexpected angles by mining more than the usual sources. The story got to the human, social, political and economic dimensions of an important community problem in a collection that was quite readable.”

In general news reporting, judges said of the project: “Through an excellent use of public records, data analysis, heartbreaking anecdotes and powerful photographs and videos, the Oklahoman and Oklahoma Watch exposed a broken system that is failing the thousands of people addicted to prescription painkillers and the families who lose loved ones to overdoses. This project could have easily overwhelmed readers with numbers and data. Instead, it was a clear and compelling look at an epidemic destroying lives across the state. Sidebars spotlighting victims and doctors put faces on this tragic story.”

The Great Plains competitions encompass journalists in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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