The Oklahoma Press Association presented the Sequoyah Award to the Leader at the annual Better Newspaper Contest Awards ceremony Friday at the Reed Center in Midwest City.
The Leader won the award in its first year of eligibility, 1985, and has won 15 times since.
The award was especially sweet for the Leader staff because Publisher and Editor John M. Wylie II spent 80 days in hospitals and medical clinics during 2012.
“We smuggled in something each day until he had an office in his room at St. John Medical Center,” said Faith Wylie. “Except for the initial week of his infection and the week of his heart valve replacement, the boss continued to edit copy and give us marching orders from the hospital.”
The Sequoyah Award, which is the highest honor in the OPA Better Newspaper Contest, is determined by the number of points accumulated in the contest’s 12 events.
The Leader took first place in Sales Promotion for the annual Community Guide, In-Depth Enterprise for coverage of the Material Service lawsuit, Editorial Comment for John Wylie’s editorials, and Community Leadership for the Kids Fishing Derby.
It placed third in Advertising, fourth in Personal Columns, second in Sports Coverage, and third in Photography.
“Superb coverage of a crucial county issue,” the judge wrote about the Material Service lawsuit coverage. “Stories were clear and impact was evident. I can just imagine the community’s outrage.”
The newspaper won its division with 620 points. The Garvin County News Star took second with 470 points.
“This is a tribute to a great staff and a great community,” John Wylie said. “We are thrilled, humbled and extremely honored.”
The Leader earned second place in the Website Contest for its Oologah.net online service.