Faith Wylie has received the prestigious Golden Dozen Award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
ISWNE represents the world’s English-language community newspapers, including members throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and Scotland.
Mrs. Wylie’s winning entry was a column titled, “Getting smashed with the girls.” The humorous column promoting mammogram testing for breast cancer generated a nationally-syndicated television feature by Scripps (owner of stations including KJRH-TV2 in Tulsa) urging women to get the test.
Her prize included a plaque, a full page story with the column in the professional journal Grassroots Journal, and the judge’s comments in that journal, and a $525 scholarship to the ISWNE annual conference to accept the award and speak about its meaning, which this year was held the last week in June in Durango, Colo.
Ironically, between the mammogram (which was negative for all the staff members of the Oologah Lake Leader who took part), and the television broadcast, Faith Wylie was diagnosed with a serious case of lymphoma, which spread from brain to abdomen.
She will undergo a stem cell transplant later this year to complete what doctors say will be a complete cure, but will remain on reduced duty for many more months. She has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation since November.
Thus she was unable to travel to accept her award in person.
Her column was designed to encourage women to get mammograms, and the project—a group mammogram followed by a margarita party at a local Mexican restaurant—was mentioned on the Leader Facebook page.
Erin Christy, a KJRH reporter, saw the item and decided to do a story for both her station and the nationally syndicated program The List.
Ironically, when the Mrs. Wylie’s column was written, Erin had not yet done her national story. When it hit, during a Breast Cancer Awareness promotions nationwide in October, the response was huge.
But between Mrs. Wylie’s column and the TV story, she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a sneaky cancer (unrelated to breast cancer) that tries to hide. When Faith was diagnosed she was already at stage 3. It had spread to her brain.
She underwent brain surgery the day before Thanksgiving, and has been treated with chemotherapy and radiation ever since. Her doctors are now preparing her for a stem cell transplant, which involves treating and recycling her blood followed by two months in isolation, first in the University of Oklahoma Medical complex in Oklahoma City and then at home. Other treatment is being handled by the Tulsa Cancer Institute on 51st St.
J. P. McLaughlin, the ISWNE contest judge, said of her entry:
“Wylie wrote about her mammogram, a deadly serious subject, in an engaging and humorous way.
“She took several female co-workers along with her, dubbing those breasts about to be squashed in the mammogram machine as their “girls” which also served as the title of the party they had afterward.
“That gave rise to this hilarious play on word in the headline: ‘Getting smashed with the girls.’ Cute, but vitally important to women who’ve never had one. She made it into a fun day for a good reason and a good cause.”
Faith Wylie is a member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Class of 2012, and has earned dozens of major awards from the National Newspaper Association, the Oklahoma Press Association (including top column in Oklahoma for 2013 for “Getting Smashed with the Girls,” which carried a $200 cash prize, a plaque, and reprinting the column in the Oklahoma Publisher) and other professional organizations.
Her husband, John M. Wylie II, is a three-time winner of the Golden Dozen Award in 2007, 2009 and 2010. He also is a 2012 member of the Hall of Fame and has won hundreds of state, regional awards.
The Leader is known as the Most Honored Community Newspaper in Oklahoma.
Other winners for the 2013 award in the Golden Dozen Award competition and the top honoree, the Golden Quill Award:
Golden Quill: Democracy dies behind closed doors, Brian J. Hunhoff, contributing editor, Yankton County Observer.
Golden Dozen: Don’t stand for pledge harassment, Andy Schotz, assistant managing editor, The Gazette; Warning bell, Missy Layfield, editor, The Island Sand Paper; Art project gets prof fired, Kelly Clemmer, editor-in-chief, The Wainwright Star; At ground zero or immigration issue, by Mike Buffington, co-publisher and editor, The Jackson Herald; Here’s why we filed, Marcia Martinek, editor, Herald Democrat; Getting smashed with the girls, Faith Wylie, co-publisher, Oologah Lake Leader; Homophobia is sickening, Steve Bonspiel, publisher, The Eastern Door; Everyone should pay for sidewalks, William F. Schanaen III, publisher, Ozaukee Press; Oops, he did it again, Cary Hines, managing editor. West Valley View; Something stinks in Ottawa, Vernie Oickle, editor, Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin , and Sergeant’s punishment is not enough, Katelyn Stanek, managing editor, The Woodstock Independent.
The ISWNE’s highest award went to Dave Mitchel, the former owner and publisher of The Point Reyes Light, which won a Pulitizer Prize for exposing the practices of Synanon, a purported drug rehabilitation program operated by the Church of Scientology. An Oklahoma affiliate now is under state multi-county grand jury investigation, according to the News on 6.com.