The McAlester News-Capital won the 2018 Oklahoma Press Association’s Sequoyah Award, which is awarded to the best newspaper in Oklahoma for each division.
Publisher Ed Choate praised the news and advertising staff, along with everyone who made the award possible.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of the entire staff,” Choate said. “It takes exceptional effort from everyone in the building, from the front of the building to the back, to achieve this kind of accomplishment.”
McAlester News-Capital staff won seven of 20 categories in the OPA’s Division 3 contest for daily newspapers. The newspaper won each of the following categories: editorial writing, community leadership, in-depth reporting, layout and design, advertising, small space ad, and front page design.
The newspaper won the community leadership category for its series of candidate forums, where News-Capital staff asked local political candidates questions relevant to constituents in a public forum, recorded the events live, and wrote about the candidates’ responses.
“This is a great example of what journalism is all about,” the judge’s comments stated. “Your team went that extra mile to make sure every reader knew about the upcoming elections. There shouldn’t have been one reader saying they weren’t informed about the candidates or issues! Great work!”
The News-Capital won the advertising category, with judges stating “extraordinary classified section makes the entry rise above the rest, but the special sections show a team that works hard and cares about what they do.”
Judge’s comments for the newspaper’s win of layout and design included “Crisp design and great layout. Pleasing to look at without getting in the way of content.” The winning submission included layouts by page designer Dawnyal Hill highlighting Veterans Day, a haunting story about the Oklahoma State Penitentiary warden’s house, and daily coverage.
A collection of editorials that won the OPA awards category included a call for elected officials to act with civility, for lawmakers to think carefully when redrawing voting districts, and more.
“Well-reasoned perspective on topics important to local readers and all Oklahomans,” the judge’s comments stated. “Analytical in tone, but not boring. A good example of an editorial page offering insight, as well as leadership.”
Managing Editor James Beaty won first place in the in-depth reporting category for his series on military veteran William “Bill” Smith’s efforts to fight the city council’s efforts to oust him from his Hartshorne trailer home.
The judge’s comments stated “A great series that shows the power of a well-told story to drive change and make a difference, even in one person’s life.The reporter did the extra legwork to dig deeper into the story and find facts that a pointed to a fallacy in government policy. The first article drove the public outcry that ultimately led to change.”
The News-Capital staff finished first in the small space ad category with judge’s saying the McAlester Family Eyecare ad “is simple, pleasing and effective. It tells us to get our eyes checked and this business will get it done for us.” The newspaper advertising staff also had the second-place ad in the small space category, and second in the large space ad category.
Hill also won the front page design category for her Veterans Day 2018 layout. Judges said of the submission “Top-notch designer, eye-catching presentation of stories with clean, bold fonts, a well-organized front page.”
News-Capital Photo Editor Kevin Harvison finished second in feature photograph. Sports Editor Corey Stolzenbach won third in sports coverage and Beaty won third in columns.