Oklahoma Watch staff members and contributors received 14 awards, including six first-place honors, in the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists competition for work published in 2018.

Among the first-place winners were:

  • Trevor Brown and Paul Monies in the “In-Depth and Investigative” category in the top newspaper division, for their data-driven stories on the influence of money and special interests in state politics.
  • Whitney Bryen in “General News Reporting,” for her story on persistent pregnancy discrimination. That investigation also came in second in “Diversity Coverage.”
  • Paul Monies in Government Reporting for his stories disclosing how small cities had become owners of nursing homes.
  • Jennifer Palmer in “Education Reporting” for coverage of issues related to teacher pay and the teacher shortage. Palmer also was second for her story revealing that many private schools excluded disabled students from their discrimination policies.
  • Oklahoma Watch staff and contributors in “Online Community Engagement” for reaching audiences through newsletters, social media and events. Dena Drabek, chief operating officer, and Penny Seale, social-media contributor, were instrumental in those efforts.
  • Thomas Thoren in “Interactive Graphic” for his precinct-level maps on the 2018 election results.

Palmer also won second-place honors in “General News Reporting” for her investigation of sexual misconduct complaints at the now-closed St. Gregory’s University. She was third in overall “Best Reporter,” a category she won last year.

Bryen was second in “Online Writing” for a story on the rapid placement of foster children with relatives or friends.

Monies captured second in “Election Reporting” for several investigative pieces on gubernatorial candidate, now Governor, Kevin Stitt. Two of those stories probed how Stitt’s mortgage firm had failed to tell regulators of past problems.

Reporter Ben Botkin was third in “Criminal Justice Reporting” for a story revealing how the amount of time spent in jail by defendants accused of low-level crimes varies by county.

Enterprise Editor Jeff Raymond was the principal editor on many of the award-winning entries.

In “Video Journalism,” four Oklahoma Watch staff members and two contributors won third place for a series of one-minute videos informing voters about races for major offices and state questions on the 2018 ballot. The effort was part of a Voter Guide project that involved a partnership between Oklahoma Watch and the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. Honored were Drabek, chief operating officer; Bryen, multimedia reporter; David Fritze, executive editor; Lynn Staggs, working for the League of Women Voters, and Mashuir Rahaman, a graduate student intern at the University of Oklahoma.

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