Great Plains Journalism Awards 2018

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the 2018 great plains journalism awards


All C h e r ok ee. A ll new.


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2  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Letter From the Tulsa Press Club President


his year marks the 112th year of the Tulsa Press Club. I am honored to be part of this remarkable organization that began more than a century ago to uphold the highest standards in journalism. I stand with our Club members and board of directors who are working journalists and professionals with fulltime jobs and pressing deadlines. But they give their time to make the Tulsa Press Club the best it can be. The Great Plains Journalism Awards is an example of our Club members’ extraordinary service, energy and passion to recognize and reward the most talented journalists in the region. Great Plains honors the best magazine, web and newspaper work from eight states. The competition offers writers, photographers and designers a chance to have their work reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges, many of whom are Pulitzer Prize winners. We’ve heard plenty, particularly lately, about what’s wrong with journalism. The journalists included in this book are all what’s right with journalism and remind us of the vital role a free and fair press plays in our community and our society. Please take this book and share with others what was won here and help the Tulsa Press Club to carry forward its mission of promoting journalistic excellence. Lastly, thank you to all our honorees, sponsors and guests for being part of the Great Plains Journalism Awards. Best,

Nicole Amend 2018 President, Tulsa Press Club Chief of Staff, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma

With appreciation Nicole Amend Kevin Armstrong Shane Bevel Anne Brockman

Joann Frizell Tom Gilbert Dylan Goforth Kyle Margerum

Kelly Nash Michael Overall Ashley Parrish Vanessa Pearson

James Royal Brian Sittler Becki Watson Jerry Wofford

Tulsa Press Club Foundation Dan Harrison Memorial Scholarship Fund

Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  3

Meet the presEnters

Omar Villafranca, Distinguished Lecturer

S. Douglas “Doug” Dodd

The CBS News correspondent’s assignments have sent him to the front lines of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and in 2017 placed him in the path of major hurricanes that battered the U.S. and the Caribbean. He also led coverage of a deadly shooting by a Tulsa County reserve deputy that eventually led to the resignation of the longtime sheriff. He spent several years at Tulsa’s KOTV News on 6.

S. Douglas “Doug” Dodd of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, LLP law firm in Tulsa, represents national and local media companies in media and intellectual property matters with an emphasis on First Amendment and defamation issues.

Louise Kiernan

Andrea Leitch

She is the editor-in-chief of ProPublica Illinois, ProPublica’s first regional operation. Previously, she was an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University, focusing on investigative and narrative reporting, and leader of the program’s social justice and investigative journalism specialization.

She serves as senior director of Travel and Adventure at National Geographic, oversees the digital strategy for and leads a team of editors, producers, and photo editors who tell stories about far-flung places, fascinating cultures, and amazing adventures across digital platforms.

Meet the Judges • Jill Agostino, special sections editor, The New York Times • Dan Barkin, managing editor, The (Raleigh) News & Observer • Betsy Becker, art director, Columbus Monthly • Chris Bonanos, senior editor, New York Magazine • Geoff Calkins, sports columnist, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal • Eric Eyre, statehouse reporter, Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail • Diana Fuentes, deputy managing editor, San Antonio Express-News • Aileen Gallagher, associate professor of journalism, Syracuse University • Kristin Gilger, associate dean, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communications at Arizona State University • Jennifer Gonnerman, staff writer, The New Yorker • Kristin Hugo, writer, Newsweek • Lawrence Jackson, former White House

photographer • Tim Johnson, photo editor, Columbus Monthly • Louise Kiernan, editor-in-chief, ProPublica Illinois • Julie Kosin, senior digital editor/social and culture, Harper’s Bazaar • Andrea Leitch, senior director of travel and adventure, National Geographic • Nic Lindh, webmaster/instructor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communications at Arizona State University • John Maher, digital editor/associate news editor, Publishers Weekly • Mindy Matthews, copy editor, The New York Times • Sheila McCann, managing editor, The Salt Lake Tribune • David Montesino, graphics editor, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington • Jim Morin, editorial cartoonist, Miami Herald • O. Ricardo Pimentel, editorial page editor,

San Antonio News-Express • Mark Russell, executive editor, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal • Karron Skog, editorial director for Smarter Living, The New York Times • Ben Solomon, international freelance photographer, based in New York • Nicholas Talbot, sports editor, San Antonio Express-News • Jon Tevlin, columnist, Minneapolis Star Tribune • Lee Tolliver, staff writer, The VirginianPilot • Chris Tyree, freelance photographer, Orb Media, Washington, D.C. • Eric Vilas-Boas, cities editor, Thrillist magazine • Omar Villafranca, correspondent, CBS News (Dallas) • Matt Zenitz, sports writer, Alabama Media Group

Meet the emcee Meagan Farley

Meagan Farley came to Tulsa’s KOTV News On 6 from Albany, New York, where she served as Anchor/Reporter at WTEN/ WXXA. Prior to Albany, Farley anchored and reported for WSLS in Roanoke, Virginia, and KSNT in Topeka, Kansas.

Farley was born in New Jersey, but spent time in Tulsa when she was a toddler. Farley earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont.

4  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Real. Award-winning. Journalism.


Bring your passion. Your initiative. Your big plans. Most of all, bring your ambition.

CONGRATULATIONS to the entire Tulsa World News team for being the BEST in Oklahoma.

Because whether you’re on your way to a four-year university or a new career, TCC is the smart way to invest more in you.

Find degree programs or learn more at


Best of The Great plains

The 2018 Great Plains Journalism Awards

6  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Great Plains Newspaper of the Year Publication: Tulsa World Judge’s comments: Powerful watchdog reporting in the sheriff’s story mixed with dramatic storytelling in the 40-year-old Girl Scouts cold case. Local impact. Eye-catching design and photography and graphics. The Bob Stoops/OU package was excellent.

JUne 11, 2017

March 5, 2017

Need a job? Career fair has more than 40 local employers. Work&money, E1

Tulsa Tough coverage. SpOrTS // B9

Miss Oklahoma crowned at Mabee Center. News, A4 FOrecaST: Breezy, sUnny, HIGH: 90, lOW 72. B16





CAMP sCOTT GIrl sCOUT MUrDers | JUne 13, 1977

OSU rolls into Big 12 finals. SPORTS // B11,12

5-year-old wins regional spelling bee. Metro&region, A13 FORECAST: MOStly clOUDy, hIGh: 68, lOW 56. A20

Most quake claims denied

A tribute to OU’s winningest coach. Special SecTiON iNSiDe





Allegations of multiple deaths caused by negligence and of poor administration at Talihina vets center may be sign of systemic problem with Oklahoma’s veteran care

Forty years ago this week, three Girl Scouts ages 8 to 10 were brutally raped and murdered. No one was ever convicted in the slayings. This week, we look back at that crime and the events that surrounded it. MONDAY: Chapter 2 The largest manhunt in Oklahoma history kicks off in pursuit of a two-time prison escapee who, despite being charged with the murders, has a growing number of supporters.

TODAY: Chapter 1 Tulsans react to the stunning news that three area girls have been murdered at a Girl Scout camp near Locust Grove. INSIDE, PAGES A8-9

TUESDAY: Chapter 3 One of the state’s mostanticipated and sensational trials pits a seasoned district attorney against a scrappy, young Oklahoma City defense attorney.

WEDNESDAY: Chapter 4 Officials stop pursuing the case despite a not-guilty verdict, and Hart dies unexpectedly while in prison for unrelated crimes.

TCSO reaches $3 million in legal fees courts • Since 2011, the Sheriff’s Office has primarily used four law firms By Corey Jones Tulsa World

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has accumulated $3 million in legal expenses since 2011 from the use of several outside

Earthquake insurance: 3 in 20 claims approved in Oklahoma since 2010

FRIDAY: Chapter 6 After 40 years, the victims’ families show their resilience, undeterred by the mystery that still surrounds the case.

THURSDAY: Chapter 5 In the years following the murders, the survivors and others affected continue trying to make sense of it all while still hoping for answers.

READ THE ENTIRE SERIES ONLINE: Read every story, see archive photos and read stories from the reporting of the crime and trial, watch videos with family members of the victims and much more.

law firms, according to a Tulsa World analysis of county records. Breaking down the invoice figures by calendar Regalado year, each year trended upward except for a drop off from the peak in 2013 of $716,000. The second-most expensive year came in 2016 at $654,000, and the third was $588,000 in 2015.

The low figure was in 2011 at $205,000. Sheriff Vic Regalado, who has been in elected office for 14 months, inherited the overwhelming majority of litigation from the previous administration of Stanley Glanz. Regalado said that to properly assess that $3 million figure one must look at the “nuts and bolts” of cases, some of » See Fees, page A3

FInD Us OnlIne Reach us on Twitter @tulsaworld Find us on Facebook:

InDeX Ask Amy D8 Bus. People E2 Comics D5 Crosswords D7 Finance E3

Horoscope C10 Letters G2 Movies D10 Obituaries A14 Outdoors B15

WOrk&MOney, e1 What does it take to keep a business going for a century or more?

lOTTerY Pick 3: 4-1-3 Cash 5: 4-5-6-23-31 Powerball: 20-26-32-38-58 3 x2 ($435 million) Hot lotto: 5-15-20-21-31 13 x3

Sunday - $2.50 8




By Corey Jones and Curtis Killman Tulsa World

The median payout on earthquake insurance claims in Oklahoma since 2010 is $3,960, according to a Tulsa World analysis of government data. Companies paid out $5.1 million on claims statewide from 2010 through 2016. They have collected $211 million in coverage premiums from consumers. Of 1,800 damage claims filed, 292 have received payments. That is an approval rate of about 3 in 20 claims. Denied claims total 1,337 (about 3 in 4

‘The system is sick’


View an interactive graphic of earthquake insurance damage claims with the online version of this story.

Tulsans rally to support president By Paul Tyrrell and Paris Burris Tulsa World

A “Spirit of America” rally drew a crowd of more than 100 people to Hunter Park on Saturday. Organizers promoted the event in the south Tulsa park on 91st Street, which was held in conjunction with other rallies of the same name across the nation, as “positive, patriotic, » See Rally, page A3

INDEX D5 D8 E2 D5 D8 E3

Horoscope C11 Letters G2 Movies D6 Obituaries A14 Outdoors B10 Sports TV B2




FORECAST: MosTly suNNy, HIGH: 92, loW 75. A8

MOndAY, JunE 12, 2017





CAMP sCoTT GIRl sCouT MuRDERs | JuNE 13, 1977

Forty years ago this week, three Girl Scouts ages 8 to 10 were brutally raped and murdered. No one was ever convicted in the slayings. This week, we look back at that crime and the events surrounding it. InSIdE TOdAY


Story by Andrea Eger • Photos by Mike Simons

The largest manhunt in Oklahoma history kicks off in pursuit of a twotime prison escapee who, despite being charged with the murders, has a growing number of supporters.

Pages A4-5

evin Kimbrough survived 13 months of combat in Vietnam and the related post-traumatic stress disorder that plunged him into a dozen years of self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. ¶ Between 2013 and early 2015, he survived a major stroke and the amputations of both of his legs. ¶ But two years at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina left him battered and bruised and, two months ago, on the brink of death. ¶ His sister, who moved halfway across the country to see to his care, has had enough. She’s transferring him to a state veterans home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the patient-to-aide ratio is a fourth of what it is at Talihina. ¶ “We’re all gonna die. Kevin’s gonna die. But it’s gonna be on God’s time – not because you neglected him or failed to do your job!” said Molly Kimbrough.

One state lawmaker is assisting top executives at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs with legislation to relocate the vets’ nursing home at Talihina to a larger city nearby because of two high-profile, questionable deaths in the last five months. Those state officials have focused their public comments and concerns on local staffing challenges and the age and design of the converted, 1921 tuberculosis sanitorium on the outskirts of a remote, tiny town in the Ouachita Mountains. But health-care workers from the highest to lowest levels of patient care at multiple ODVA-run nursing homes for veterans say the problems are in no way limited to Talihina –

More coverage

Sunday - $2.50

Tulsa business extols water conservation. METRO // A9

GOP determined to push health law through. Datelines, A6 Molly Kimbrough kisses her brother Kevin Kimbrough goodbye after a visit at the Talihina Veterans Center. Molly Kimbrough said she fears for her brother’s life because of problems with the care at the facility.

» See Quakes, page A4

Ask Amy Books Bus. People Celebrations Crosswords Finance

Healing power of yoga. Scene, D1


Staff members, residents describe conditions at veterans centers and problems with the system.

at Read stories related to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Oklahoma Veterans Center is a 175-bed facility in Talihina. Two high-profile deaths in the last five months have left officials concerned about staffing and the age of the facility.

they’re systemic. In a Tulsa World investigation, sources provided detailed accounts and documentation of systemwide re-

ductions in medical and nursing staff, outsourcing of lab work and one-sizefits-all, top-down medical directives and policy changes. All the corners being cut and administrative decisions are driving out staff dedicated to the mission of veteran care and are compromising patient care and safety, sources say.

READ THE ENTIRE SERIES ONLINE Read every story, see archive photos and read stories from the reporting of the crime and trial, watch videos with family members of the victims and much more.

HeLmericH park

coming monday: An analysis of Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs payroll data of staff to determine turnover and overtime pay. Also, a family of a veteran who died in one of the centers shares their story. coming tuesday: Issues with transparency, openness and oversight of the ODVA


tulsa touGh • a raucous scene greets spectators, racers on cry Baby Hill

Dispute to go before open court for 1st time

By Paighten Harkins Tulsa World

By Jarrel Wade Tulsa World

The dispute over Helmerich Park will see arguments played out in open court for the first time this week after years of legal wrangling. On Wednesday, the city’s legal department is scheduled for arguments before Tulsa County District Judge Jefferson Sellers against opponents to development of the park on the city’s motion to dismiss the case. UCR Development, a Texasbased developer, has designs for the land, owned by the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority, for an open-air restaurant and several retail stores including an anchor tenant thought to be sporting-goods dealer REI. Wednesday’s hearing is expected to include the major » See Helmerich, page A3

A cyclist heads out of Cry Baby Hill during the Tulsa Tough bike race on Sunday.  MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

Cyclists head down Cry Baby Hill during the Tulsa Tough bike race.   MATT BARNARD/ Tulsa World

Government • Lawmakers pleased they didn’t cut taxes as deep as northern neighbor Tulsa World

In 2012, Gov. Mary Fallin and many Republican lawmakers were promising a drastic reduction of the state’s top income tax rate to keep pace with Kansas. Now most of them seem glad that’s a promise they haven’t kept. In fact, they’ve been patting them-

As he stood at Cry Baby Hill’s ascent on the north side of the race course, Ryan Major, wearing a lime green cloth squid hat, explained the diverse scenes that comprise the third day of Tulsa Tough bicycle racing. “There’s different aspects of it. Down there (on Riverside Drive) you have, like, the families and bike racers,” he said. “This part’s just crazy. It’s almost too crazy, if you ask me.” By late afternoon Sunday, a crowd stacked about 10-people deep lined 13th Street. The higher one climbed on the hill, the tighter the crowds. Near the top, the air was soured with hot beer and sweat. Major, 27, said it felt “40 degrees hotter” when he got around all those people. Thus, Major chose to watch the races from Lawton Avenue, where riders begin the brutal trek up the hill. There, he found a middle ground between the mild-mannered Riverside Drive section and the debauchery of the hill, where nearly anything goes and the only rule is minding the gap as cyclists pedal through. Cry Baby Hill is the finale of Tulsa Tough, a three-day bicycling event now in its 12th year. Organizers describe the hill as a “funky surprise,” a place where “(y)ou’ll see things you can’t unsee, and you’ll never have more fun.” On Sunday, some of those things impossible » See Race, page A3


Read more about the results from the last day of races at Tulsa Tough. page B1


Cyclists talk about the atmosphere of racing on Cry Baby Hill.

GOP: Kansas tax model avoided By Randy Krehbiel

» See Veterans, page A6

Karl Schmidt holds a doll on a stick as he cheers on Cry Baby Hill during the Tulsa Tough bike race on Sunday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

selves on the back for not taking the dark, bumpy road traveled by Kansas the past few years. And this week, when Kansas’ Republicanled Legislature overrode Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and rolled back many of his tax reduction initiatives, their judgment seemed vindicated. “Oklahoma did not go down the same path as Kansas with a sudden, large tax cut,” Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt said last week. “Governors (Frank) Keating and (Brad) Henry, along with Gov. Fallin, gradually lowered the income tax rate. “Gov. Fallin has been warning the

Oklahoma Legislature that we need to fix our budget’s structural imbalance,” McNutt said. “During this legislative session, she proposed a wide variety of ideas of how to close the budget gap. The governor signed a budget that will produce close to $445 million of new, recurring revenue into the state treasury. However, lawmakers filled the budget gap with more than $500 million of onetime funds, which means Oklahoma will have a budget shortfall likely next year.” » See Cuts, page A8


See a photo slideshow from Sunday’s Cry Baby Hill races.

FIND us oNlINE Reach us on Twitter @tulsaworld Find us on Facebook: facebook. com/tulsaworld

INDEX Ask Amy D2 Classified C1 Comics D3 Crosswords D2 Datelines A6 Editorial A7 KenKen D3 Movies D4 Obituaries A10 Sudoku D3 Sports TV B2 Work & money A12

G Fest performer talks of encounter with Johnny Cash. SCENE, D1 LOTTERY Pick 3: 0-3-1 Cash 5: 3-21-26-31-36

Daily cents Daily- -75$1.00 8





FINALISTS Publication: The Oklahoman Publication: Omaha World-Herald Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  7 ad 100345985-01

Great Plains Writer of the Year Publication: The Oklahoman By: Josh Dulaney Judge’s comments: This submission showcases the breadth of Mr. Dulaney’s talents: stellar investigative reporting (the “Biding Time” series); superb storytelling (recovering from wildfires); and a curiousness that leads him to uncover surprising gems (the funeral director shortage and the depressed veterinarians). His evocative writing is the common thread throughout.

Excerpt from “Biding Time: Maximum security for the innocent and low risk” Clothed in an orange jail uniform. Under the watchful eye of detention officers. In a dreary courtroom at the bottom of the 13-story Oklahoma County jail. Brandi Davis, her dark brown hair threaded with streaks of purple and her arms etched by addiction, sits here 38 days after her arrest. She stole a $24 hoodie from an Oklahoma City department store, to exchange for heroin. When stopped by security, Davis turned over an empty syringe. Authorities charged her with felony larceny from a retailer. Davis also has a warrant out of Cleveland County for possession of controlled dangerous substances. Because of prior convictions, the 35-yearold Oklahoma City resident faces up to life in prison. Davis tells a reporter she hasn’t asked family to pay her $400 bail on a $4,000 bond. Instead, she’s praying for a spot in a substance abuse diversion program. It may be her last chance to kick a 15-year-old opioid and heroin habit and reunite with her 10-year-old daughter. “I need help more than I do prison, so I’m OK with sitting here for a couple months if I have to, to get it,” Davis says. She is among thousands each year who languish in Oklahoma County’s criminal justice system. The Oklahoman has spent four months looking into the system which, if not broken, is buckling under the weight of a poorly designed and overcrowded jail, a backlog of court cases and a mountain of felony and misdemeanor filings. The Oklahoman found a criminal justice system that locks up the poor, of-

ten on minor charges and then punishes them for being unable to pay fines and court costs. It’s a system that offers judges little flexibility in setting bail, where agencies do not effectively communicate with each other and where poor data collection hampers the ability of officials to shape public policy based on information about who is in jail and why. It’s a system beset by case processing delays, budget turmoil and staffing shortages that lead to nonviolent offenders filling jail beds. As they await justice, inmates also face paying some of the freight when they leave, through crippling fines and fees piled on as they navigate the system. The result can be lost jobs, shattered families and broken lives. On any given day in the county jail sit hundreds of people awaiting charges on low-level offenses, often the community’s poorest who cannot make bail, and those such as Davis, who are seeking a path away from prison and into rehabilitation. Designed to hold 1,200 when it opened in 1991, the county jail popula-

tion has swollen to twice that size. The jail costs roughly $35 million a year to operate. County leaders have considered a new jail, with some estimates placing the cost at $400 million. Renovation is estimated to cost from $250 million to $260 million. But those versed in criminal justice reform say Oklahoma County cannot build its way out of the problem of jail overcrowding. In 2015, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce convened the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Task Force, in response to overcrowding and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into conditions at the jail. Led by Clay Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the task force is composed of business community members, law enforcement leaders and officials from the city, county and state. To examine the issues of jail overcrowding and the criminal justice system, the chamber spent $125,000 on a contract with the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit research group noted for working with American cities on criminal justice policy.

FINALISTS Publication: Tulsa World Publication: Omaha World-Herald By: Andrea Eger By: Henry Cordes 8  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Great Plains Newspaper Photographer of the Year Publication: Omaha World-Herald By: Sarah Hoffman

FINALISTS Publication: Tulsa World    By: Ian Maule Publication: The Daily Republic    By: Matt Gade Publication: Tulsa World    By: Mike Simons Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  9

Great Plains Designer of the Year Publication: Omaha World-Herald By: Tim Parks Judge’s comments: A strong collection. Good use of photography, type, and illustration. A very strong entry.




COMPANY MAN Even as Berkshire Hathaway’s reach spreads wider, from Acme Brick Company to World Book Encyclopedia and everything in between, the 400-plus-company conglomerate maintains a singular public face — Warren Buffett, who built Berkshire from scratch and continues to hold it all together. 8D-9D



M AT T H A N E Y / T H E W O R L D - H E R A L D


BACK IN RED Scott Frost returns to his alma mater as the highest-paid coach in Husker history

MORE HUSKER COVERAGE Instead of hazing, this time there will be hugs for Frost, Dirk Chatelain writes. 1C


A long but winning day for Nebraska’s new coach unfolds in Orlando. 1C

LINCOLN — Scott Frost smiled with tears in his eyes. He’d just coached Central Florida to a conference title in front of a home crowd. “The best year of my life,” he said. That magical year will end with him headed back to the state where he was born, grew up and won a national

University regents like the hire and credit the new athletic director for making it. 13C

title playing quarterback. Frost is coming home to resurrect Nebraska football after its worst season in more than a half-century. Athletic Director Bill Moos announced Saturday he had hired Frost as the program’s 33rd coach. He replaces Mike Riley, who was fired after a 4-8 season. Frost will be formally introduced today at a noon press conference. Current Husker players applauded the hire on social media, typing snowflakes as a nod to Frost’s name. Saturday night, the video boards inside Memorial Stadium featured a picture of the 42-year-old Frost and the See Frost: Page 7


Grieving fiancé finds his strength in life’s grace notes By Henry J. Cordes

Loved ones left to mourn after the 2007 ‘Omaha Mall Massacre’ have their memories to cherish; but one man among them found his way back, in his career and in love, by heeding his angel.


Greg O’Neil had long dreamed of becoming a police officer. And when he and Angella Schuster decided to get married, his dream became her dream. After O’Neil applied to be an Omaha police officer in 2007, his fiancée was always his biggest booster, even when his own confidence at times flagged during the arduous weeding-out process.

“I knew you could do it,” Angie told him after he beat the clock to pass the physical agility test — no small feat for the past-his-peak 33-year-old. Then came Dec. 5. O’Neil was shocked to hear the re-

‘Ridiculous’ insurance cost

Block party continues a holiday tradition. Midlands

One Nebraska couple’s ACA sticker shock. Money

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See Von Maur: Page 8

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Then, after hours of anguished uncertainty, an Omaha detective confirmed O’Neil’s nightmare: His beautiful Angie was dead. Dazed, O’Neil walked from the room to a nearby window, one that looked right out on Von Maur. He stared at the store’s distinctive golden globe lights as his life with Angie — and future without her — flashed before his eyes.

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‘ I H AV E A G O O D E A R , ’ A N D A N I M B L E M I N D T O M AT C H DIMA Continued from Page 1

Try answering that one. Almond bark makes no noise when it melts. The pretzels make no noise when you drop them in. Hmmm. But a gas stove tick-tick-ticks when you turn the burner on until the gas catches with a “whoosh!” before it softly breathes underneath a big silver soup pot. Then a fork clangs against the side of the pan as a kid relegated to the tedious duty knocks the extra chocolate off. That wasn’t so bad. Far easier, though, to describe the still life of what I see before me: a boy dressed for recital day, his two adoring parents sitting nearby, and his kid sister, age 10, sipping tea. What do they sound like? His parents, in their 40s, sound like people who came here four years ago af-

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10  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

ter an 11-year wait in Moscow for an immigration visa. Their heavily accented English is better than they say it is. Alex works as a software developer while Gulnara, who worked as an accountant in Moscow, stays home. His sister, Arina, speaks English with zero accent. All of them say they are glad they are in Omaha. All of them miss Moscow. Sometimes Alex goes on his back patio, which faces 192nd Street, just to hear noise. Of all the things he misses from a good life they had in Moscow, what he misses most is the sound of a pulsing city of 13 million people. But he’s convinced Omaha is the best place to raise a family. Alex proves that you don’t have to be blind to appreciate what you hear. Still, he is not walking around with a pocket digital recorder, as Dima does. Dima records his piano practices at home and at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. When he had

finished playing a jazz piece called “Ray’s Blues” on that recital Sunday, he left the stage with one hand on his father’s elbow and one hand clutching that recorder. He replays and replays what he has heard. It is his photo album, his collection of memories. “I record everything,” he had warned me about the omnipresent hot mic, “and everyone.”

Of course, hearing is not the only sense that Dima relies on to make his way. The sense of touch is vital for a Braille reader. Braille is a language built on sixdot configurations raised off the surface of a page. Dima’s textbooks cover the same material as his classmates’ at Beadle Middle School, but his are printed in Braille.

Above, Dima Shaposhnikov plays piano at the Strauss Performing Arts Center on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus last year. Dima records his piano practices with a digital recorder that accompanies him everywhere. At right, Dima navigates school hallways using a cane as a sixth-grader. At far right, he whispers to his paraprofessional, Sue Klopp, during Spanish class. A special globe allows him to find Russia using his fingertips. A social studies teacher’s plywood model of one of the Great Pyramids of Egypt lets him wrap his arms around a shape that is both triangle and square. Dima is unique in a host of ways, but even among Nebraska’s 800 or so blind and visually impaired students, he stands out. “Dima is very rare,” said Sally See Dima: Page 8

FINALIST Publication: St. Louis Post-Dispatch    By: Wade Wilson

B R E N D A N S U L L I VA N / T H E W O R L D - H E R A L D

M AT T H A N E Y / T H E W O R L D - H E R A L D



Great Plains Magazine of the Year Publication: Omaha Magazine

FINALISTS Publication: Arkansas Life Publication: Tulsa World Magazine Publication: 605 Magazine Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  11

Great Plains Magazine Writer of the Year Publication: Arkansas Life By: Wyndham Wyeth

Excerpt from “There’s a Reason Murry’s Restaurant Is Legendary, and It’s Not Just the Catfish” IT’S NOT EVERY night that I find myself driving an hour for catfish, but from all I’ve heard about the place, Murry’s catfish isn’t just catfish. With each passing mile, my stomach’s audible grumblings increase in decibel. But as I pull off Highway 70 and my headlights illuminate the parking lot, it’s almost completely empty. Like, ghost-town empty. I park my car in a spot by the door and take a minute to get my bearings. Middle of nowhere might be a stretch, but I’m plum in the heart of Delta duck country somewhere between Carlisle and Hazen. Best I can tell, the place doesn’t even have an address, and I was basically told as much when I called to confirm the location. (“It’s just Highway 70 West,” the voice on the other end of the line had said.) But here I am, and though I haven’t actually crossed the threshold into the place, I’m looking at the empty parking lot and the nondescript facade of the building and the dark nothingness for miles in all directions, and I feel a little … underwhelmed. Especially given the history of the place. There are a few things I know about Murry’s Restaurant already. I know it takes its name from Olden Murry, the legendary king of catfish who opened the restaurant in the mid-’60s after an injury ended his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I also know this Highway 70 location is not the original. Murry’s was initially located over in nearby DeValls Bluff and housed in a railway passenger car, eventually evolving into “a rambling catacomb of interconnected coaches, trailers, and prefabricated rooms,” according to John Egerton’s book Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, in History. Egerton also refers to Olden Murry

as “a Rembrandt of the kitchen,” and from what I hear, his son-in-law Stanley Young, the current proprietor, proudly upholds that legacy. Everyone I know who’s been to Murry’s says Stanley and his wife Becky are the “nicest people in the world,” and I can see it in their eyes when they say so that they mean it. So, I have to wonder: Where is everybody tonight? Inside, the dining room is quaint and homey. A mock antique mall is set up just past the entrance with a menagerie of items on display: old metal signs, tin cans, salt dishes, fishing lures, wooden baskets, most of them accompanied by little 25¢ signs. A big “Murray Gins” (sic) hangs high and center. Wood-paneled walls are dotted with paintings of waterfowl—ducks on the water, geese in mid-flight. A taxidermied mallard by the front door keeps watch over the cash register while a couple of stuffed geese above the mantle of the fireplace on the far wall are frozen in time with wings outstretched. They’re flanked on either side by framed photos of Stanley

on various hunting trips and there is a small collection of goose bands on display as well, his trophies from those outings. I start to feel a little more at ease as I take the place in. It’s cozy and kitschy and cute. The waitstaff is friendly. I haven’t tasted the food yet, but the aroma wafting out from the kitchen is divine. I turn my attention to the menu, eyeing the frog legs and the stuffed deviled crab. But, really, I’m just giving the thing a cursory glance. I know what I’m here for, and that is Stanley Young’s famous catfish dinner. I opt for the half portion—three catfish fillets, hushpuppy sticks and a choice of two sides (French fries and coleslaw for me, please and thanks). A couple more groups come in shortly after me, and Becky greets them all with a warm smile and sometimes a hug. One of the diners has even brought Becky a gift, a wooden cake stand she picked up at some sort of flea market or garage sale, I overhear her say.

FINALISTS Publication: Arkansas Life   By: Jordan Hickey Publication: Arkansas Life    By: Johnny Sain Publication: Tulsa World Magazine    By: Jimmie Tramel 12  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Great Plains Magazine Photographer of the Year Publication: 605 Magazine By: Liz Painter

FINALISTS Publication: Omaha Magazine    By: Bill Sitzmann Publication: Arkansas Life    By: Arshia Khan Publication: TulsaPeople Magazine    By: Michelle Pollard Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  13

Great Plains Website of the Year Publication: Omaha World-Herald, Judge’s comments: A clean, inviting, responsive design with great use of story art to entice the reader to engage with the individual stories. Individual story pages presents the content well and brings the focus on to the content. It is interesting to see the two different takes on the same basic template used by Omaha WorldHerald and Tulsa World.

FINALISTS Publication: Tulsa World, Publication: The Oklahoman, Publication: 605 Magazine, 14  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Cosgrove, The Oklahoman

newspapers News package Winner Camp Scott Girl Scout Murders By: Tim Stanley, Mike Simons, John Clanton and James Royal, Tulsa World Judge’s comments: This category showcased critical and unflagging reporting and was challenging to judge. But the concise and compelling writing, with its careful selection of details; effective editing; and engaging design and presentation of the Tulsa World’s examination of the Camp Scott Girl Scout murders and their impact years later created unmatched immersive storytelling. Finalists • Deadly Force By: Hunter Field, Amanda Claire Curcio, Jillian Kremer, Kirk Montgomery and Stephen Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette • Dead Asleep By: Frank Fellone, Lisa Hammersly, Stephen Thornton, Kirk Montgomery and Sandra Tyler, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Project/Investigative reporting

Winner Untested — Lead unchecked in many Oklahoma children By: Brianna Bailey and Jaclyn

Finalists • Biding Time By: Josh Dulaney, The Oklahoman

Beat reporting Winner Education coverage By: Erin Duffy and Joe Dejka, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: Your story on sex education classes was one I haven’t seen before. Very accessible, great presentation. I also thought the story on the shrinking rural high school classes was poignant, and a metaphor for rural America. The use of public records law to reveal the back and forth on the Omaha School Board was outstanding.

Finalists • A vested interest in future By: Barbara Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald • Dollar General expands across rural Midwest By: Barbara Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald • Sidney residents brace for life without Cabelas By: Paige Yowell, Omaha World-Herald

Finalists • Embattled Regional Chamber CEO By: Jacob Kirn and Katlyn Keller, St. Louis Business Journal • Ferguson three years on By: Steph Kukuljan St. Louis Business Journal • Without subsidies, insurance cost is ridiculous By: Steve Jordon, Omaha World-Herald

Business feature Winner David Porter’s new vision By: Steph Kukuljan, St. Louis Business Journal Judge’s comments: Easy-toread, well-written feature on intriguing entrepreneur and how he works; love the stats. I was left wanting to know to know about him, such as where he

Sports reporting Winner Early recruiting By: Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald Finalists • Nathan Hale baseball is a catalyst for keeping kids on track to graduate By: Mark Cooper, Tulsa World • Nebraska football coaching change By: Sam McKewon, Omaha World-Herald

2018 GREAT PLAINS JOURNALISM AWARDS We salute the Tulsa Press Club for recognizing and promoting the highest quality of journalism through these annual awards.

Finalists • Education coverage By: Jennifer Palmer, Oklahoma Watch • Courts coverage By: Todd Cooper, Omaha World-Herald • Immigration By: Eric Besson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette







April 2018 April 2018

Feature writing Winner The Better Half: Nebraska’s Hidden Treasures By: Matthew Hansen and Sarah Baker Hansen, Omaha World-Herald Finalists • Camp Scott Girl Scout murders By: Tim Stanley, Tulsa World • Disappearing act: The woman who didn’t want to be found, the community that tried anyway By: Peter Salter, Lincoln Journal Star

MAR. 21 – AP RIL 3, 2018 // V O L . 5 N O . 7


General news reporting

Winner The Mystery of Leslie Arnold By: Henry Cordes, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: This is an engrossing tale, deeply reported and well told. It’s a delight to read, with sharply drawn characters and a strong sense of pace, and, at the same time, asks resonant questions about guilt, pain and penance.

finds inspiration and what he does for fun.

Winner Oil, Gas Output Plummets Before Taxes Rise By: Warren Vieth, Oklahoma Watch Judge’s comments: Excellent enterprise with strong sourcing that could trigger what appears to be much-needed change in tax rates to benefit the public. This is watchdog journalism at its best.

APRIL 2018

Finalists • Inside Democracy By: Trevor Brown and Mollie Bryant, Oklahoma Watch • State Patrol investigation By: Omaha World-Herald staff

Narrative story/series

Business reporting


Winner Eric Greitens’ first year By: Kevin McDermott, Jack Suntrup and Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Judge’s comments: First-class watchdog reporting on the illusory nature of the Missouri governor’s first year in office. Greitens exposes the governor’s exaggerations and web of deceit.

Finalists • Quest of 2 lifetimes By: Michael O’Connor, Omaha World-Herald • Bixby High School rape investigation By: Andrea EgerCanfield, Tulsa World






Business: Faces of 11th Street Conley and Lisa Wakefield, LeAnn Jesse Boudiette







We are proud to be a sponsor and salute our Anne Brockman for serving as co-chairman.

TulsaPeople • Intermission • The Tulsa Voice • Custom Publishing

Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  15

Sports feature Winner Missing Ameliya: After brief time as parents, Burke High seniors learn hard lessons on grief, strength and growing up By: Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: This entry was not an unfamiliar story of teen pregnancy but of what happens when tragedy strikes it. The writing here put it over the top and made it the clear winner. Finalists • Bob Stoops rides away: A look behind the football facade of OUs winningest coach By: Cody Stavenhagen, Tulsa World • He’s a high school football star — and gay By: Benjamin Hochman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Sports column Winner Berry Tramel, The Oklahoman Judge’s comments: Tramel writes with bite, wit and nerve. Finalists • Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald • Jenni Carlson, The Oklahoman

Review Winner Reviews By: Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: Philip Martin does his homework, and across multiple genres, to the benefit of the reader. Obviously a student of history, film, art, music and other disciplines, Martin’s breadth of knowledge and ability to share it is impressive. He shines when putting the artist in historical and societal context. Finalists • Food Reviews By: Angela Evans, The Tulsa Voice • Dining/theater reviews By: Betsie Freeman, Omaha World-Herald • Movie reviews By: Michael Smith, Tulsa world

Food Winner Kelly Brant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: Kelly Brant stands out for her compelling (yet not overworked or trendbeholden) subject matter, her crisp writing style, her

prodigious testing and research — even her suggestions for further reading on the topic at hand and her helpful glossaries. Finalists • Food Reviews & Features By: Angela Evans, The Tulsa Voice • Food By: Eric Harrison, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette • Food By: Jessica Rodrigo, Tulsa World

Entertainment feature Winner Just like a woman By: Philip Martin and John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: A fascinating, deeply researched dive into women in popular music. Like any good critic, Martin establishes a clear point of view, as evidenced by his conclusions/observations about rampant history of misogyny in rock ‘n’ roll. Lovely descriptive turns of phrases like this on Laura Nyro: “An eclectic composer whose influences ran from doo-wop to Debussy ...” John Deering also deserves praise for his spectacular work illustrating the piece. Finalists • Downsizing, road trips and what it means to be an Alexander Payne film By: Micah Mertes, Omaha World-Herald • 5 reasons Dirty Dancing became a long-enduring hit By: Micah Mertes, Omaha World-Herald • Unusual gift for Johnny Cash turned Welch into ‘Cash Country’ By: Jimmie Tramel, Tulsa World

Specialty feature Winner ‘Nature’s garbage men’ By: Celia Storey and Michael Storey, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: Wellwritten and entertaining. Nice informal tone, and the sidebars were really helpful. Finalists • Road to Sainthood By: Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman • Shoutout for Sister By: Sean Clancy and Kirk Montgomery, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Special section Winner Vision 2020 By: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff

Judge’s comments: Terrific packages. Smart to break it out into various sections. Wellwritten and good graphics. Comprehensive, well planned and executed.

Editorial cartoon

Finalists • Beyond Whiteclay By: Lincoln Journal Star staff • Tinker Air Force Base 75th Anniversary By: The Oklahoman staff • Big Game Bob By: Tulsa World staff

Winner Bruce Plante, Tulsa World Judge’s comments: A potent, effective mixture of gentle humor and passionate commentary. Finalists • John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette • Dan Martin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Jeff Koterba, Omaha World-Herald

News page design

Editorial portfolio

Winner Jessica Thompson, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: Simple, powerful, elegant. I love the designer’s range: being able to whisper a story (the eclipse) or use a collection of images to scream it out (Trump’s first 200 days).

Winner David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: Finalists • Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald • Wayne Greene, Tulsa World

Finalists • Wade Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Michael Boehnlein, Omaha World-Herald

Feature page design Winner Madeline Crawford, The Tulsa Voice Judge’s comments: Lovely pages. Good use of illustrations. “Tough Road Ahead” cover is best of category: strong simple illustration that says it all. Finalists • Jessica Thompson, Omaha World-Herald • Katie Myrick Parks, Omaha World-Herald

Sports page design Winner Tim Parks, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: Brave. Creative. Technical. Powerful use of illustrations. Finalists • James Kellerman, Omaha World-Herald • Kyle Margerum, Tulsa World

Graphics/Illustration Winner Matt Haney, Omaha World-Herald Judge’s comments: I love the Warren Buffet illustration. Lovely bold style. Finalists • Todd Pendleton, The Oklahoman

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Personal column portfolio Winner Camera cover-up By: Tony Messenger, St. Louis PostDispatch Judge’s comments: Tony Messenger’s series captured in vivid detail the sloth of the St. Louis County police officers who were supposed to be guarding the Metro light rail. The deeply reported series showed that while officers slept or lounged in offices, transit riders were being assaulted or even killed. Messenger’s columns provided a valuable public service to his city. Finalists • Matthew Hansen, Omaha World-Herald • Cindy Lange-Kubick, Lincoln Journal Star

Headline portfolio Winner Haylee Pearl, Omaha WorldHerald Judge’s comments: The final two entries in this selection truly made it a winner. Little pieces and masterpieces mixes word play and rhythm in a way that’s almost poetic, and the horn contribution offers a depth of dual meaning that sneaks up on the reader. Finalists • Rich Mills, Omaha WorldHerald • Tim Sacco, Omaha WorldHerald

Feature writing

Magazines News writing Winner Tulsa’s urban legends uncovered By: Debbie Jackson, Jimmie Tramel, Randy Krehbiel, Jason Collington and Michael Overall, Tulsa World Magazine Judge’s comments: Tulsa World Magazine’s significant, well-reported effort to retell and explain its city’s bestknown secrets is detailed, filled with humor and compulsively readable. Finalists • The End of the Road for DACA Youth in Omaha? By: Thomas Sanchez and Doug Meigs, Omaha Magazine • Ice Age Tusks vs. Blood Ivory: How Nebraskas State Fossil (the Mammoth) Feeds Global Demand for Ivory By: Doug Meigs, Omaha Magazine

Winner What Lies Beneath By: Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life Judge’s comments: A patient, poignant, stirring portrait of a place and the people who keep it. Terrific lede, heck of a finish. Finalists • On True War Stories By: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Carla Walker (Editor), Oklahoma Humanities Magazine • Ice Age Tusks vs. Blood Ivory: How Nebraskas State Fossil (the Mammoth) Feeds Global Demand for Ivory By: Doug Meigs, Omaha Magazine • Now she sees: After struggling with deaf-blindness, Jeri Cooper finds calling teaching those like her By: Michael Overall, Tulsa World Magazine

Profile writing Winner Forever an Outsider By: Ginnie Graham, Tulsa World Magazine Judge’s comments: Tulsa World Magazine’s snapshot of S.E. Hinton’s life and influence pops with her humor and wit.

Finalists • The Naturalist By: David Priest, Arkansas Lifes • Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun By: Whitley O’Connor and Quit Nguyen, The Curbside Chronicle

Column writing Winner First Taste By: Seth Eli Barlow, Arkansas Life Judge’s comments: Barlow captures the Little Rock food scene in intimate detail. Reading his columns is like having a passionate conversation with an old friend. Finalists • The Editor’s Desk By: Carla Walker, Oklahoma Humanities Magazine • Not Funny By: Otis Twelve, Omaha Magazine

Page design Winner Best New Restaurants By: Meera Nagarajan, Sauce Magazine Judge’s comments: Modern, eye-catching typography; simple, well-organized layouts; delicious photos; it’s all very well done!

Finalists • Brown v Board of Education Mural By: Amanda Nagengast, Bill Stephens, Kevin Anderson, Katie Moore and Nathan Pettengill, Sunflower Publishing • The Comedian in the Jetpack By: Matt Wieczorek, Omaha Magazine

Cover Winner Omaha Magazine (July/August 2017) By: Bill Sitzmann and Matt Wieczorek, Omaha Magazine Judge’s comments: This cover is such a joy to look at. It’s colorful and fun and invokes a feeling of nostalgia for childhood summers spent indulging in a sweet treat. The typography is refined and does not compete with the image. All of these elements combine to make a winning cover. Finalists • Best of Lawrence By: Jenni Leiste, Brian Goodman, Kelly Gibson and Nathan Pettengill, Sunflower Publishing • Omaha Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2017) By: Bill Sitzmann and Matt Wieczorek, Omaha Magazine

Hillcrest HealthCare System congratulates the winners and finalists of the Great Plains Journalism Awards.


Thank you for embodying the highest standards of journalism.

918-579-DOCS (3627) • Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  17

walks back to the laundromat. It’s a telling moment of when someone gets the news at a spot news situation.

Photography Specialty photo Winner Studio XII in OKC hosts networking shoot By: Brittni Logan, Langston University — The Gazette Judge’s comments: This picture is great. The hands. The lighting. The color of the suit. The composition. It all works well together. Finalists • Team Photo By: Cooper Kinley, Kansas State University Athletics Communications • Sushi By: Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Portrait Winner Swimmer By: Matt Gade, The Daily Republic Judge’s comments: The best compliment to give is “I wish I’d taken this.” Just a nice job by the photographer overall. Finalists • Red Hawk soars with Lao Tsu By: Tommy Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette • Bettie Reynolds By: Stephen Pingry, Tulsa World

General news photography Winner Sad to see dad go By: Mitchell Pe Masilun, Arkansas DemocratGazette Judge’s comments: I’ve covered many homecomings and departures when I worked for the Virginian-Pilot. The lone tear makes this picture a picture. Great job by the photographer. Finalists • Remember By: Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman • Coming Home By: Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald

Spot news photography Winner Shooting By: Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Judge’s comments: The woman on her knees bereaved with emotion while the police officer

Finalists • Semi selfie By: Ben Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette • Historical Loss By: Chris Machian, Omaha World-Herald

News photography — multiple Winner Thunderbird Youth Academy By: Mike Simons, Tulsa World Judge’s comments: The photographer did a great job capturing moments around the academy. The toning, color balancing and editing were also well done. Finalists • K-State Marching Band Pub Crawl By: Cooper Kinley, Kansas State Collegian • Foam Party By: Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Feature photography — single Winner Waiting backstage By: Matt Gade, The Daily Republic Finalists • Ballet By: Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman • Bull Rider National Anthem By: Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World • Noodling catch By: Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World

Feature photography — multiple Winner Transitioning By: Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald Finalists • Noodling Family By: Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World

Sports action photography Winner Rodeo By: Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman Judge’s comments: Clean background, peak action with the hat mid-air. A unique frame of a sport that isnt pervasively photographed. The rider’s face adds to the snapshot in time where the view can imagine what is happening in that split second. Finalists • Run By: Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman • Leap By: Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

• Score By: Ryan Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald

Sports feature photography Winner Gathering composure before the game By: Ian Maule, Tulsa World Judge’s comments: In sports, a quiet solitary moment is rare. That was captured purely here, good composition but great capture of a moment Finalists • Emotional Win By: Chris Machian, Omaha World-Herald • Winning Tears By: Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman • Sunset Football By: Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

Magazine portrait Winner Crosstown Bridge By: Joshua Officer, The Curbside Chronicle Judge’s comments: Very moody and gritty portrait that reflects the subjects’ life and environment.

Finalists • Globe-Trotting Mode By: Chris Christen, Heidi Thorson, Heather & Jameson, Jessica Luna and Kali Rahder, Omaha World-Herald • Amazing Grace By: Carmen Troesser, Sauce Magazine • Tally-ho! By: Wesley Hitt, Arkansas Life

Magazine photography — feature Winner An art editorial: From Fire to Ice By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine Judge’s comments: Well thought out illustration and like the use of natural environment. Finalists • Pleats and Pearls By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine • South Dakota in the Trees By: Liz Painter, Alana Snyder and John Snyder, 605 Magazine • The Hipster Podcasters By: Jason Dailey, Nathan Pettengill and Amber Fraley, Sunflower Publishing

Finalists • Nebraska’s Painter in the Pentagon By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine • Stacie Tovar is Omaha’s top female CrossFit athlete By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine • Let There Be Light By: John David Pittman, Arkansas Life

Magazine specialty photo Winner Where to Eat Now: A Tour of Omaha’s Changing Food Landscape By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine Judge’s comments: Just a big, bold, colorful photo that does a great job of illustrating the story. Finalists • Concert Masters By: Rett Peek, Arkansas Life • The End of the Road By: Bill Sitzmann, Omaha Magazine

Magazine photography — multiple Winner Finders, Keepers By: Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life Judge’s comments: Great variety of images from event that could have become very repetitive. Really like the mix of journalistic and more stylized photos.

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Multimedia & Web General news Winner Preliminary OHP report on fatal crash fails to mention possible involvement of sheriff’s deputy By: Clifton Adcock,The Frontier Judge’s comments: This is a very poignant story that likely gave peace to the family members of the victim for knowing that someone (the Frontier) was listening to their story because the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office did not even investigate its deputy. It’s a nice mix of visuals, a mix of sources, and points of views. This is the ideal story length to read on a mobile device. Finalists • Ten Commandments installation, destruction By: Emma Pettit, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

• Undocumented immigrants in Tulsa feel sense of trepidation as President Donald Trump takes office By: Dylan Goforth, The Frontier • Opioid drug company at center of national doctor bribery scandal gave tens of thousands to Oklahoma physicians By: Clifton Adcock, The Frontier

Online project Winner The Mystery of Leslie Arnold By: Omaha World-Herald staff Judge’s comments: This is a fascinating story with so many twists and turns. I can feel the writer’s passion for the topic in his writing, and it’s phenomenal reporting. There is an excellent mix of illustrations, photos, newspaper clips, and video. The video is an incredible addition and makes this a perfect digital package. Finalists • Arkansas executions By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff • Murders on Main By: Brandon Riddle, Arkansas DemocratGazette • Hunger in Schools By: Jennifer Palmer, Oklahoma Watch

Feature writing Winner The Caretaker By: Emma Pettit, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: This is a fascinating story and shows that the reporter is able to identify what initially seems to be a simple subject into an interesting feature. I like the involvement of research of the state’s history and the different photos from past and present that accompany the chapters, especially the 360 view! That 360 was a perfect compliment to the story. Make sure to give this story strong SEO so people can find this online. Finalists • Women religious answer the call for the midwife globally By: Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report

Multimedia graphic Winner Otis Twelve’s “Not Funny” column (animated by Joe Pankowski) By: Otis Twelve and Joe Pankowski, Omaha Magazine Judge’s comments: It’s very clever to pair an illustrator with an article. The illustrator is very literal in his animations so

it would be great to see future collaboration where the two play off one before the article is even written. This is a very fun series to engage with a digital audience!

Finalists • Gen-u-wine Oklahoma Cowboy By: Maureen Wurtz, Andrejs Dabars, Bryan Clemmer, KTUL • Thunderbird Youth Academy By: Mike Simons, Tulsa

Finalists • Little Rock/North Little Rock homicide map By: Gavin Lesnick, Arkansas DemocratGazette • DACA and Omaha Identity / Omaha Dreamers in their Own Words By: Christopher Marshall, Doug Meigs, Omaha Magazine • 2017 fatal wrecks in Arkansas By: Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Feature video

Best website design, single page

Winner Leaving the race By: Brendan Sullivan, Omaha World-Herald

Winner Madeline Crawford and Maxx Crawford, The Tulsa Voice Judge’s comments: Bold, colorful and engaging design with just enough whimsy in the colors and typography to put a smile on the faces of readers.

Finalists • All-City Prep Sports Awards: Courage Award - Lainy Fredrickson By: The Oklahoman staff • Varsity: Backfield brothers By: Tim Money, Adam Kemp, The Oklahoman

Best website design, project

News blog writing

Winner Biding Time By: Richard Hall, The Oklahoman Judge’s comments: Stark, clean design that works well with the topic of incarceration. The claustrophobic cropping of images also heightens the sense of the content. Good art direction with tonally consistent images.

Winner Seeing with sound By: Brendan Sullivan, Omaha World-Herald Finalists • The Adam Boys By: Megan Farmer, Omaha World-Herald • Ashleigh By: Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald

Sports video

Winner Betty Casey, Tulsa Kids Magazine

Finalists • John Bendel, Land Line Magazine • Tyson Fisher, Land Line Magazine

Entertainment/ specialty blog Winner Grand Life By: Diane Kondos, Tulsa Kids Magazine Finalists • Spaghetti On the Wall By: Tara Rittler, Tulsa Kids Magazine

Sports blog Winner Berry Tramel, The Oklahoman Judge’s comments: The writer had an interesting variety of topics. But two stood out the most - the live chat and the World Series game lengths because they were interactions with readers, an important, but seemingly dying aspect of journalism these days. Writing was clear and on point, keeping the reader involved from start to finish. Finalists • Mad Chatter By: Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald

Finalists Suspicious Suicides By: Richard Hall, The Oklahoman Untested By: Richard Hall, The Oklahoman

Best website design, overall Winner Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Spot news video Winner Tracking The Storm: Texas/ Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak By: Marc Dillard, Jon Slater, KFOR Finalists • Northeast Arkansas flooding By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff

Over 37 years helping families protect and grow their lifetime savings. | (918) 744-0553

General news video Winner Talahina Veterans Center By: Mike Simons, Tulsa World

Read the full stories and view winning photos at  /  19

Together, we are Oklahoma.

ate in the Employees particip Jr. Day Martin Luther King, Parade in Tulsa.

BCBSOK’s Volunte er of the Year, Catherine Divis, a t the R Food Bank of Okla egional homa.

Employees volunteer at the Gurney Tourney to be nefit Hospitality House Tuls a.

Since 1940, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has been there for our members, employees and the community. Together, we can make Oklahoma a healthier place to live, work and raise a family. A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

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4/13/17 11:02 AM


The 2018 Great Plains Journalism Awards

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Dan Harrison Memorial Scholarships


he Dan Harrison Memorial Scholarships are awarded to student journalists each year during the Great Plains Journalism Awards. Sponsored by the Tulsa Press Club and funded by generous donors, the scholarships are given in honor of Dan Harrison, president of the Tulsa Press Club in 2009 and one of the original architects of the awards program. The scholarships are given to students with award-winning portfolios who exemplify the characteristics Harrison displayed: integrity, leadership ability and creativity. Harrison died in 2014 at the age of 61. A former broadcast journalist, Harrison was senior vice president for administrative services and corporate relations of ONEOK and ONEOK Partners at the time of his death. From 2005 until July 2012, he was vice president of investor relations and public affairs. He also served as president of the ONEOK Employee Political Action Committee. In 2011, Harrison was named to Institutional Investor magazine’s “All-America Executive Team: Best Investor Relations Professionals,” tying for first place in the Energy category, Natural Gas & Master Limited Partnership sector.

“Dan was loved and respected at ONEOK, both as a friend and leader, and is greatly missed,” said Terry K. Spencer, president and chief executive officer of ONEOK. “Dan’s contributions to ONEOK and its employees are too numerous to name, and the way in which he was able to tell ONEOK’s story in such a meaningful way to the investment community – and to all of our audiences – is a great legacy. “In the years I knew him, his tenacity never ceased to amaze me,” Spencer said. “Even during his fight with his illness, he continued to provide counsel and leadership to me and to his team.” Active in the community, he was a member of the board of trustees of the Tulsa Community Foundation; a member of the executive committee and board of directors for the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce; chair of VisitTulsa, the chamber’s convention and tourism initiative; and past director of the executive committee of the National Association of Publicly Traded Partnerships. He was a founding board member of Leadership Oklahoma, served on the board of Tulsa Opera and was a member of the Oklahoma Commission on State Government Performance. “For 22 years, Dan was

Dan Harrison one of my most loyal and trusted friends,” said John W. Gibson, non-executive chairman of ONEOK, ONEOK Partners and ONE Gas. “In the seven years I served as CEO, Dan contributed so much to our organization. In the areas of communications and investor relations, Dan made ONEOK the ‘best in class.’ “All stakeholders of ONEOK benefitted from Dan’s many talents,” Gibson said. “It was my honor to

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work with him and have him as my friend.” Harrison is survived by his wife Mary Ann, herself a former journalist, and daughter Annie. Sponsors of the Dan Harrison Memorial Scholarships include: ONEOK, ONE Gas, John Gibson, Terry Spencer, Pierce Norton, BOK Financial, David Roth, Walsh Branding, Andrew Ziola, Steve Bradshaw and the Tulsa Press Club Foundation.

Great Plains Student Photographer of the Year Publication: Kansas State Collegian, Kansas State University By: Cooper Kinley

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Great Plains Student Photographer of the Year Finalists Publication: The O’Colly, Oklahoma State University By: Devin Wilber

Publication: The Oklahoma Daily By: Caitlyn Epes

Publication: University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas By: Missy Minear

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Great Plains Student Editor-in-Chief of the Year Publication: University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas By: Conner Mitchell Judge’s comments: As editor in chief of the Daily Kansan, Conner Mitchell oversees a newspaper that truly serves the fundamental watchdog role of the press. Aggressive reporting, use of public records and compelling visual presentation combine to make this a strong paper. Attention to editing and design carries through to all pages of the product — not just the front page. The website has an entirely different feel appropriate to a digital publication, and it’s clear that students are experimenting there with different ways to tell and display stories. Well done.

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Great Plains Student Editor-in-Chief of the Year, Finalists Publication: Kansas State Collegian, Kansas State University By: Emily Lenk Judge’s comments: Manhappenin’ is a visually exciting magazine that seems to really get its audience. It is dynamic from the first page to the last and is clearly a labor of love for its creator and editor.

Publication: The Collegian, University of Tulsa By: Hannah Kloppenburg Judge’s comments:The staff of the Collegian regularly goes beyond the ordinary in coverage of events and issues important to its audience. The special section on women’s issues is especially impressive, and the feature highlighting ways to improve the university was creative and refreshing.

26  /  Read the full stories and view winning photos at

Great Plains Student Writer of the Year Publication: University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas By: Darby VanHoutan Judge’s comments: Darby VanHoutan takes on tough topics — weapons on campus, sexual assault and harassment, among them — and produces work that is clear, balanced, well-sourced and thorough. She can write with voice, but knows when to get out of the way, as when she explains university resources for sexual assault and harassment cases, and simply let the information speak for itself.

Excerpt from “How KU’s web of rape reporting procedures obscures cases from the public eye” The University’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access received 28 complaints of sexual misconduct involving students last year including 13 alleging rape, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Kansan under the state’s open records act. Nine of the 28 complaints resulted in punishments for student violators. The 28 complaints received and investigated by the IOA included students either as the responding or the reporting party. Officials declined to provide information about what happened with the other 19 complaints or whether any of the punishments to the nine student violators were related to any of the 13 rape complaints. As a result of a separate open records request by the Kansan, the University’s Public Safety Office also released copies of four of the 13 rape reports. The four complaints alleged that two of the rapes occurred in University dorms — including one in Oliver Hall and one in McCarthy Hall, which houses the men’s basketball team as well as other students. The two other complaints were reported in Jayhawker Towers and Wescoe Hall. The University did not release police reports on the other nine rape complaints. This indicates those reports were made to agencies other than the KU Public Safety Office. According to the University’s annual Jeanne Clery Act report, which documents crime statistics, seven of the 13 alleged rapes occurred on what officials call “non-campus” properties. These include properties operated by officially recognized student organizations such as fraternities and sororities, and property controlled by an institution used in support of the University. The Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson is still considering charges in the McCarthy Hall case in which a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped. Spokespeople for the IOA and PSO said they did not have information on whether charges were filed in connection with any of the other 12 rape complaints. Branson, who has responsibility for rape charges in Lawrence, reviewed three of the four rapes reported to KU PSO for charging consideration, according to Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the DA. The alleged rape in McCarthy Hall is still under review, Kunard said. Another, which was reported to have occurred in Jayhawker Towers in February 2016, resulted in no charges from the DA’s office due to a “lack of sufficient evidence to

prove beyond reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred,” Kunard said. In the third, which occurred in Oliver Hall in October 2016, the defendant plead guilty to sexual battery in May 2017, according to Kunard. As punishment, the court ordered a 12-month probation, recommended counseling from mental health and substance abuse providers and random alcohol/drug testing, Kunard said. Kunard said she could not comment on the remaining nine reported rapes without case numbers or suspect names, which were not immediately available. At the University and in Lawrence, many different agencies can take sex-related complaints from University students and some are not required to report those to police or IOA. As a result, there is no central record of complaints that can provide the public with a complete picture of how many University students report or seek help for being victims of sexual assault or harassment. “Sexual assaults that are reported, for example, to the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, might be included in the Clery report,” Mike Leitch, associate general counsel for the University, said in an email with the Kansan. “But they may not result in a police report to KU PSO, either because the victim elects not to make such a report, or because the incident occurred beyond the jurisdiction of KU PSO and thus the police report would be made to a different law enforcement office.”

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Great Plains Student Writer of the Year, Finalists Publication: The Collegian, University of Tulsa By: Kayleigh Thesenvitz

Publication: The Collegian, University of Tulsa By: Michaela Flonard

Judge’s comments: Kayleigh Thesenvitz can write engagingly about subjects as obtuse as a new car sales tax or even sexual harassment cases in the state legislature. But she also can handle long, complex pieces, writing with clarity and organizing her stories exceptionally well.

Judge’s comments: Michaela Flonard seems to always keep her readers in mind. Her stories are well structured, easy to follow and provide just the right amount of detail.

Excerpt from “An opinion about taxes that you’ll understand, hopefully enjoy” The Oklahoma Independent Auto Dealer’s Association (OIADA) filed a joint lawsuit with non-member dealerships and private citizens across the state against the Oklahoma Tax Commission to try to stop House Bill 2433, before it went into effect July 1. While covering this as breaking news about the suit for my summer internship, I interviewed Melanie Killian, Controller of Bolin Ford in Bristow, who thought the bill was unfair to customers and was under-reported by popular media outlets such that customers would likely be surprised by the increase in taxes. HB 2433 removed a sales tax exemption for the sale of automobiles, adding 1.25 percent back to the revenue being collected, which is expected to give the state an additional $123 million in the next fiscal year. Leslie Osborn (R, Tuttle), the bill’s author, emphasized that coming into this session legislators faced a $1.2 billion shortfall after two years which also had substantial budget shortfalls. “We are truly at a crisis point on funding our core state services that citizens expect and deserve,” she said. As a result of the state’s funding issues, Osborn said, “All year my message, even as a Republican, was that we lowered our tax base too low.” She cited that decreases in the Gross Production Tax from seven percent to two percent and a decrease in income tax to five percent were not replaced with alternative sources of revenue. “It was imperative that we find new revenue to actually fund core services,” Osborn said, “not to grow government exponentially like people think, but to target dollars to the classroom, to teachers’ salaries, to mental health and to put programming back into prisons.” Osborn said that throughout the session bills were put forward to increase the tax, but the legislature could not get a supermajority to approve them. “The automobile excise fee was something that was rather broad based, that would hit different income levels, not disproportionately hurt the poor and it was removing an exemption that was in law,” she said.

Excerpt from “Brenda Tracy: a story to end sexual assault” Last Tuesday, Brenda Tracy came to tell her story at TU and encourage discussion and action in the community. Since revealing herself as the “Jane Doe” in the 1998 Oregon State University rape case, Tracy has begun activist work, including speaking at different venues. Held in Lorton Performance Center, about 350 to 400 students attended her talk, mostly athletes with some Greek life and various other students. Dr. Derrick Gragg, the Vice President and Director of Athletes, was the original proponent of bringing Tracy to campus, and the event was moderated by Violence Prevention Program Director Kelsey Hancock. Tracy began the night with a challenge. As the single mom of two sons, ages 23 and 24, she asked the audience “to think about what it would be like if you were my son or daughter and you were sitting there and I was up here, telling my story.” In 1998, right before the incident occurred, Tracy was a single mom, after recently divorcing her children’s father, and had just started dating an OSU football player. Her best friend, Karmen McFadden, was also dating an OSU player, and one night, asked Tracy to attend a house party with her. The party was attended by McFadden’s boyfriend, her boyfriend’s brother, his friend and another player. At the party, Tracy was offered a drink, but said she initially refused, because she “grew up in an alcoholic home and because of my children’s father. I didn’t like alcohol and I needed to be in control of my surroundings at all times.” But as the night persisted, the others insisted she drink, saying she would be safe and could crash on the couch. About 20 minutes after sipping some of her drink, Tracy said, “I started feeling warm inside, like hot from the inside out. I remember thinking, ‘Am I getting drunk already? Is it happening this fast?’ I didn’t have a point of reference. I’d never been drunk before.” Soon after, she began feeling dizzy, which is when, she said, McFadden’s boyfriend stood up, looking straight at her and walked McFadden to the back bedroom of the apartment. This left Tracy in the living room with the other four men: the two OSU football players, Calvin Carlyle and Jason Dandridge, and the other two men, Michael Ainsworth and Nakia Ware.

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Great Plains Student Newspaper of the Year Publication: University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas Judge’s comments: This is a full-service student newspaper, jammed with campus and community news, strong sports coverage and everything from horoscopes and calendars to reviews commentary. Photography is a strong point, as is the design of special features. Coverage of topics such as guns on campus, student debt and food insecurity shows strong news judgment.

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Great Plains Student Newspaper of the Year, Finalists Publication: The Collegian, University of Tulsa

Publication: The O’Colly, Oklahoma State University

T H E O ’ C O L LY

T H E O ’ C O L LY

O C O L Ly . c o m

o c o l ly. c o m

Good Old Time


February 15, 2017

F e b r u a r y 2 7, 2 0 1 7

Black like Me

Greek students performed in Varsity Revue to support Stillwater United Way.

discussion of race continues at oklahoma state university during Black history month.



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Great Plains Student Broadcaster of the Year Publication: Bullet Broadcast, The O’Colly, Oklahoma State University By: Katelyn Fuller, Bullet Broadcast executive producer

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Great Plains Student Broadcast of the Year Publication: KUJH News, University of Kansas By: Mallory Houser, producer

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Great Plains Student Broadcast of the Year, Finalists Publication: Bullet Broadcast, The O’Colly, Oklahoma State University By: Bullet Broadcast staff

Publication: The Connection, Tulsa Community College By: Zach Redwood and Monique Moore

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Great Plains Student Website of the Year Publication: The O’Colly,, Oklahoma State University By: O’Colly staff Judge’s comments: Crisp, mobile-first design with strong information density above the fold and good use of story art to draw the reader in. Story pages are clean and neat.

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Great Plains Student Website of the Year Finalist Publication: University Daily Kansan,, University of Kansas By: Lara Korte, Christian Hardy, Conner Mitchell Judge’s comments: Uncluttered, responsive design with with story art to entice readers to click into stories and a calm, authoritative color scheme. Story pages are crisp.

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