CapitolBeatOK wins honors from Society of Professional Journalists
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Published: 01-May-2011

In its first year of eligibility for competition, CapitolBeatOK won two awards for excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma pro chapter. Additionally, editor Patrick B. McGuigan and staff writer Stacy Martin each won several reporting awards, including for stories in “legacy media” – reports that were adapted from CapitolBeatOK.

The “Best News Website” competition is statewide without the “divisions” based on circulation that characterize the newspaper competitions. CapitolBeatOK.com won “honorable mention” designation. In first place was NewsOK.com, the website of the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. Second went to TulsaWorld.com, while third was captured by TulsaPeople.com

In “Web Design,” CapitolBeatOK.com was awarded third place, with TulsaWorld.com gaining honorable mention. In first place was OMRF.org, website of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Second went to Law.okcu.edu, website of the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

The awards were announced at the April 30 awards banquet of the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

In addition to awards going directly to CapitolBeatOK, McGuigan and Martin won a total of four awards for stories adapted from reporting they did for CapitolBeatOK. 

The pair shared two awards for a single story on the potential application of federal civil rights strictures to public school districts defying Oklahoma's special needs scholarship program, aimed at giving handicapped students choices in where they might go to school. 

The news story first appeared here, and was adapted for The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper where Martin is editor. The story won third place in “diversity coverage” and honorable mention in the highly competitive education reporting category. 

Martin garnered third place for her health news story about “Insure Oklahoma", a state program aimed at making health insurance affordable for the state's working poor.

McGuigan's education story on Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry's push to require students to “learn some things,” won third place in education reporting. The story was part of CapitolBeatOK series on the new university executive's drive to restore traditional educational standards, including an understanding of American history. 

In all, Martin won five awards for her work in the past 18 months (the competition time frame was July 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010). McGuigan won a total of 11 SPJs (eight for his reporting and commentaries, and three “institutional awards,” including the two recognitions for CapitolBeatOK.com). 

Both reporters have previously won journalism recognitions, but this year's honors for their Online work were firsts for each. 

CapitolBeatOK is affiliated with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, an organization devoted to excellence in online journalism. 

Founding sponsor of CapitolBeatOK was the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The online news website encourages newspapers, radio stations and other traditional media to “steal our stuff,” using news and information at no charge, so long as credit is given to CapitolBeatOK. 

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