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Register wins top OPA award

Ninth time in last 11 years

The Purcell Register
Posted 6/13/24

Among the nine Oklahoma newspapers that received top honors in the Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest was The Purcell Register .

The Sequoyah Awards were presented at the Annual …

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Register wins top OPA award

Ninth time in last 11 years


Among the nine Oklahoma newspapers that received top honors in the Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest was The Purcell Register.

The Sequoyah Awards were presented at the Annual Convention last Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.

The Sequoyah Award, which is the highest honor in the Better Newspaper Contest, is determined by the number of points accumulated in eight of the contest’s categories including News Content, Layout & Design, Advertising, Editorial Writing, Photography, Sports Coverage, Sales Promotion and Community Leadership.

The Register won division six representing towns ranging in population from 3,500 to 7,000.

It was The Register’s 11th Sequoyah Award and ninth in the last 11 years.

The Register won first place in News Content, Sales Promotion and Sports Coverage.

The newspaper was second in Editorial Writing.

The Register was third in Advertising, Photography, and Community Leadership.

The contest also included a Digital Media category in three divisions – dailies, weeklies and colleges.

In that contest, The Register was second among all of the state’s weekly newspapers combined in Digital Media behind The Newcastle Pacer.

“These awards are a reflection of the work and effort of our entire staff at The Register,” publisher John D. Montgomery said.

“I am proud of each of them,” he said.

The entire staff and their positions are listed on page 4A of each issue.

Other winners of the Sequoyah Awards were The Norman Transcript, Tahlequah Daily Press, The El Reno Tribune, Midwest City Beacon, Choctaw Times, The Keystone Gusher and Minco-Union City Times. The Cameron University Collegian was the winner in the college news media division.

Also announced during the two-day convention were the recipients of the OPA H. Milt Phillips Award and the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation’s Beachy Musselman Award.

Receiving the H. Milt Phillips Award was James O. Goodwin, publisher of The Oklahoma Eagle in Tulsa.

The OPA Board of Directors selects the recipient of the Milt Phillips Award, the association highest honor.

James Goodwin is a lifelong Tulsan, an accomplished attorney and the owner of Tulsa’s only black-owned newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, which the Goodwin family has owned since 1936.

He is an advocate for the city’s reconstruction of the Greenwood district, for its history both before and after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

As an attorney, Goodwin specialized in civil rights and social justice. He successfully challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals the constitutionality of a state statute and city ordinance regarding freedom of speech and was co-counsel in the matter of reparation for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

He was named president and legal counsel of The Eagle in the early 1970s and has been publisher and editor since 1979. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2015.

Receiving the ONF Beachy Musselman Award was Bruce Willingham, publisher and editor at The McCurtain Gazette.

Willingham has held his city and county officials accountable in McCurtain County for more than 40 decades. He joined The McCurtain Daily Gazette as executive editor in 1985. He and his wife Gwen bought The Gazette and Broken Bow News in 1988.

Willingham has covered about 100 murder trials in McCurtain County since 1980 and led multiple investigations that led to changes in the community.

In 2023, Willingham suspected McCurtain County Commissioners of conducting business after meetings adjourned. The shocking conversation he recorded and published made national news as it revealed racist remarks and threats made against him and his son, longtime Gazette reporter Chris Willingham. The threats came after The Gazette’s coverage of multiple problems in the sheriff’s department.

The recipient of the Musselman Award is selected by the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation Board of Trustees.

Individuals were able to receive awards in 16 categories – news story, feature story, sports story, business story, education story, in-depth reporting, column writing, small space ad, large space ad, news photograph, feature photograph, sports photograph, photo essay/picture page, front page design, video journalism or marketing, and online project.

Members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association judged almost 1,450 entries from 74 Oklahoma news publications.

In addition to the nine Sequoyah Award winners, almost 200 first place plaques were presented during the awards banquet. News publications and individuals placing second and third in the contest received certificates.

A complete list of winners in the 2023 OPA Better Newspaper Contest is available on the OPA website at okpress.com/contest-winners-2023.

The Oklahoma Press Association’s Half Century Club inducted four new members including John Ferguson, editor of The Wagoner County American-Tribune; Susie Glasscock, office supervisor at The Stillwater News Press; Joe Hight, longtime editor at The Oklahoman and now director of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame; and Jeff Mullin, former senior writer and current columnist at Enid News & Eagle.

The Quarter Century Club also inducted four new members including Mark Carson, publisher of The Woods County Enterprise; Steve Coulter, publisher of Mustang Times and four other newspapers; Jeff Schnoebelen, co-publisher of The Mooreland Leader and Northwest Oklahoman in Shattuck and Matt Swearengin, longtime editor of The Durant Democrat.

Several additional awards were presented during the June 7-8 convention including:

  • Stillwater News Press received first place in the OPA Magazine Contest.
  • Ray Lokey Memorial Award for Excellence in Reporting, presented to Clifton Adcock, The Frontier.
  • Editorial Sweepstakes Award, sponsored by ONG, presented to Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah Daily Press.
  • Column Sweepstakes Award, sponsored by ONG, presented to Jennifer Sharpe, The Journal Record.
  • Daily, Semi- or Tri-Weekly Photo of the Year, sponsored by OGE Energy Corp., presented to Richard R. Barron, The Ada News.
  • Weekly Photo of the Year, sponsored by OGE Energy Corp., presented to Kyle Lomenick, The Perkins Journal.
  • ONF Joseph H. Edwards Outdoor Writer of the Year presented to Connor Choate, Marietta Monitor.


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