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OKSPJ Contest Feedback Survey

Dear colleagues, 

Now that we've all had time to recover from Mother Nature's recent wild ride, Oklahoma SPJ wants your feedback to better prepare for the 2020 contest cycle. We've created a three-question survey that's open through June 30. Responses are completely anonymous, so please be open and honest with us. Even if you didn't enter this year for whatever reason, we still want to hear from you in the hopes that you'll consider participating in 2020. 

SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter 

SPJ Awards Banquet to Feature Pulitzer Winner; Honor State Journalists for Work

Oklahoma Professional Chapter

4 NE 10th Street • Oklahoma City, OK • 73104


Contact: M. Scott Carter

Work: 405/682-1611 x7331

Cell: 405/589-1933

SPJ Awards Banquet to Feature Pulitzer Winner

Honor State Journalists for Work

A college professor, the long-time Capital Bureau chief of the Tulsa World, and the managing editor of the Johnston County Sentinel will be honored by the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists during its annual awards banquet, the organization announced today.

Oklahoma SPJ Chapter President Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton said the group would recognize the work of Dana Eversole, a professor of Media Studies at Northeastern State University, Tulsa World reporter Barbara Hoberock and John Small, publisher of the Johnston County Sentinel.

The trio will receive their award at the SPJ Awards Banquet, May 18 at the Reed Center in Midwest City. Pulitzer Prize winning editor and University of Central Oklahoma Professor Joe Hight will deliver the keynote address. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Krenbiel-Burton said the annual event spotlights the state’s best journalists and communications professionals.

“These three individuals represent the best in Oklahoma journalism,” Krehbiel-Burton said. “Their work sets a standard for others to follow.”

Eversole will receive SPJ’s Educator of the Year award.  In addition to teaching, she serves as coordinator of the Communication and Media Studies department. She received her bachelor's in journalism education from Northeastern State University, a master's in communication from Pittsburg State University and her doctorate from Oklahoma State University. She is an award-winning writer with specialties in print media, public relations and crisis communication. 

Eversole received the Lois A. Thomas Award of Distinguished Merit in Teaching from the Oklahoma Interscholastic Press Association, the Young Oklahoman Award from the Tulsa Jaycees, was honored as The Circle of Excellence in Service and was named an original Centurion.

Small will receive the Carter Bradley First Amendment Award. An Oklahoma native, he began his newspaper career in the seventh grade as a paperboy, delivering the Kankakee Daily Journal. After graduating from high school in 1981 served a short stint in the U.S. Air Force and at the Kankakee Daily Journal as a sports and entertainment correspondent, covering high school and college athletics and writing movie reviews.

In 1991, he began working for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, and later the Durant Daily Democrat. In 1997, he returned to the Capital-Democrat as News Editor, a position he held until January 2018 when he left to help establish the Johnston County Sentinel. Small serves as managing editor of the paper.

Small has earned more 225 awards from the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Newspaper Association, the Oklahoma Education Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

He is also a published author, publishing seven books and contributing to several anthologies. Small has also been a speaker at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con and the PulpFest convention.

Hoberock will receive the Frank Greer Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, SPJ Oklahoma’s highest honor, was renamed this year to honor the late Frank Hilton Greer, publisher of the Oklahoma Daily State Capital newspaper, the first daily newspaper published in the state.

Hoberock, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, worked at the OSU student newspaper, The Daily O’Collegian as a reporter and opinion editor. After her graduation, she worked at the Claremore Daily Progress for 11 months before joining the Tulsa World in 1990.

Hoberock was named to the World’s Capital Bureau in 1994, where she covered the statehouse. She was part of a team of reporters covering the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. 

She continues to write about the Oklahoma Legislature, appellate courts, state agencies and elections. Hoberock has the longest consecutive service for reporters covering the statehouse and is dean of the state capitol press corps. In 2018, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. She has previously served on the boards of SPJ and FOI Oklahoma.

In addition to the awards for Small, Eversole and Hoberock, Oklahoma SPJ will honor the work done by hundreds of journalists and communications professionals in 2018. 

Tickets for the May 18 banquet are $50. For tickets visit 


Oklahoma SPJ Pro Chapter Award 2019

It is that time of year again! Starting Jan. 14, 2019 the Oklahoma Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will be accepting contest entries via through March 8, 2019.  Entry rates are as follows:

  • Early bird rate (Entries submitted prior to Jan. 31): $25
  • Regular rate (Entries submitted between Feb. 1 and March 8): $35
  • Carter Bradley First Amendment Award: Free
  • Teacher of the Year Award: Free
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Free



JOINT STATEMENT FROM OKSPJ & NAJA: Proposed MCN free press bill raises concerns Feb 2019


OKSPJ & NAJA: Proposed MCN free press bill raises concerns

The Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma Pro Chapter (OKSPJ) and Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) commend the ongoing efforts at Muscogee (Creek) Nation to reinstate a free press ordinance. This legal protection is vital to ensuring its informational outlet, Mvskoke Media, is free from influence by the tribal government. 

However, the devil is in the details when it comes to how a bill is branded versus what it really accomplishes, as dictated in the fine print.

A new draft bill, NCA 19-031 passed in MCN legislative committee earlier this month, which states the Mvskoke Media Editorial Board will adhere to SPJ ethics. This is also stated in the original bill; however, language related to NAJA standards has been removed in the new version.

NCA 19-031 is set for a final vote Feb. 23 before it moves to signature consideration by the principal chief.

NAJA and OKSPJ are concerned with some of the new bill's language in relation to ethical standards.

Under the SPJ Code of Ethics, outlets are given the charge to act independently from political influence, as mirrored in the establishing language in the previous and proposed versions of the MCN free press laws.

However, part of what makes any government board truly independent is that its members have a set term, and clear parameters for how members may be removed before their term expires, due to issues like misconduct, etc.

While the recently proposed bill includes board term limits, it does not reseat the original board, which was dissolved by NCA 18-180. This compromises the purity of MMEB’s proper independence from the tribal government.

Tribal officials never levied any formal complaints against any members of the former editorial board or made any justification for their replacement.

This action effectively bypasses these tenure requirements that are included in both bill versions and creates an inherit conflict in NCA 19-031.

A board is not truly independent if a legislative body can rescind the free press law in its entirety and introduce a new one that removes all sitting members, without regard to any official stated process for removal.

The previous law established board guidelines for hiring the Mvskoke Media manager, ensuring further operational independence.

NCA 19-031 lacks language dictating the manager selection process and personal conduct of the day-to-day Mvskoke Media leader. So while the law states editorial content must be free of influence by the tribal government, does the lack of parameters for the manager leave an opportunity for this position to be directly chosen by the government?

Without any free press law, the department currently sits under the Secretary of the Nation and Commerce, an executive branch employee. The proposed bill would still allow the executive branch official to be directly involved in drafting policies and managing the department budget.

OKSPJ and NAJA acknowledge the struggle of all media outlets to maintain a separation between fiscal and editorial operations.

In this instance and with many tribal outlets, we recognize the complexity of an independent entity that still receives tribal funds, but also believe that editorial and fiscal oversight are not mutually exclusive as it pertains to this structure.

The former Mvskoke Media manager was accountable to the board for budget and policy oversight and the department budget was subject to the same approval process of any other tribal program - submitted annually to the chief and Council for approval.

Our respective organizations are concerned that the direct and more specific involvement of another government official leaves the potential for this oversight to spill into editorial operations and control.

This concern is increased when looking at the shield law portion of the act, which relates to how the department’s editorial sources are protected. The Secretary of the Nation and Commerce is listed as a protected employee under this section.

Why would this official need protection regarding editorial sources if they are not involved in editorial operations?

The Secretary of the Nation in Commerce is tasked with establishing ad policies, which also have bearing on meeting editorial deadlines.

There were avenues to address many of the stated fiscal concerns without such brash actions and the previous leadership has not been allowed to formally respond to any of these specific complaints.

This denies any due process, which is important to the true independence of the department’s leadership as well as true transparency for the tribal citizens regarding how their would-be independent media outlet is being operated.

Finally, we believe the actions taken in relation to Mvskoke Media set a precedent for tribal news throughout Indian Country and urge the MCN government to take this into consideration as they move forward with this process.

OK SPJ Stands in Solidarity with Mvskoke Media Nov 2018

UPDATE Muscogee (Creek) Nation votes to repeal Free Press Act, citing need for ‘more positive’ coverage

To the honorable members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council, The Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and FOI Oklahoma stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Mvskoke Media and strenuously oppose NCA 18-180. 

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is one of three tribes in Oklahoma and one of a handful nationally with codified protections for its media outlets. When the tribe’s Independent Press Act was signed into law just three years ago, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was hailed for taking such a huge step forward and giving its own people a chance to tell the tribe’s stories. 

The potential adoption of NCA 18-180 represents not just a step, but a leap backwards in an era where journalists nationwide are already struggling with public misconceptions about the relationship between reporters and government officials. Under the current law, Mvskoke Media’s editorial board serves as a crucial buffer between the newsroom and the tribe’s government. The elimination of that safeguard opens the door for potentially reckless interference in the public’s right to know. Even if the current Secretary of the Nation has no interest in exercising day-to-day editorial control, there is no guarantee that his successors may follow suit. 

We fully acknowledge that reporters are human and make mistakes occasionally, but those concerns should be addressed in civil conversations rather than through punitive legislation. 

The Mvskoke Media staff has received state and national recognition for their fair, unflinching coverage of the good, the bad and the ugly within their communities. They must be given every opportunity to continue that work without fear of censorship attempts -- or worse -- from elected officials. 

Respectfully, The officers of the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and FOI Oklahoma

More Info at Mvskoke Media