Oklahoma Baptist University

OBU Student Publications Earn Array of Honors

The Bison, Yahnseh Staff Bring Home Individual Honors

Oklahoma Baptist University’s two student publications earned top honors at this spring’s Oklahoma Collegiate Press Association conference.

OBU’s yearbook, Yahnseh, was named one of the state’s best annuals, continuing a 15-year streak of success in OCPA competition. For the first time in nine years, OBU’s student newspaper, The Bison, was selected as the top private school newspaper in Oklahoma.

Eighteen students also received individual recognition for their work in the publications during the calendar year 2004. In addition, OBU junior journalism major Brad Newman was selected as a student member of the OCPA board during the 2005-06 academic year.

“These honors are just the latest examples of the quality of work done at OBU,” said Philip A. Todd, chair of OBU’s Department of Journalism and Public Relations.

“You name the venue – state, regional, or national – and you will find OBU’s students being recognized for their work,” he said.

Members of the Kansas Collegiate Press Association judged this year’s OCPA contest entries. Winners heard their names announced at the annual OCPA banquet at Oklahoma State University April 8.

“Working on the Bison and the Yahnseh takes hours of time and dedication to produce an outstanding newspaper and yearbook,” said Anne Hammond, chairman of OBU’s Division of Language and Literature. “Congratulations to the students who won awards in writing, editing and photography at OCPA. You have continued the winning tradition.”

Hammond, a former faculty adviser for the yearbook, also commended the work of the publication advisers. Todd has served as adviser for The Bison for four years. Holly Easttom, instructor of English, is completing her first year as yearbook faculty adviser.

The 2004 Yahnseh earned OCPA Award of Excellence honors in five categories: theme, content and coverage, photography, layout and design, and overall yearbook.

“We are terribly pleased to be recognized by OCPA,” said Easttom. “We will strive to continue to please not only OCPA but also our student body.”

The judges also praised The Bison in every category, placing it in the top Award of Excellence level for private school newspapers for the first time since 1996.

“This is a reflection of the senior leadership of the last few years,” said Todd. “After top finishes from 1993 through 1996, then some third-place years and now several years of knocking on the door from second place, it is nice for the staff to be back on top.”

Judges’ comments included “congratulations on coverage that runs the full spectrum – from campus news to features, from announcements to personality profiles, from calendars to commentary.”

“This newspaper far surpasses its competition,” the judges wrote. “You showcase your broad, solid content with dominant photos, smart packaging and healthy white space ... crisp leads, abundant quotes, relevant sources and clean copy editing.”
Individual student awards included two sweeps for the yearbook staff.

In the Yearbook Feature Writing category, judges recognized Elora Jacobson, first; Eva Wolever, second; and Jason Stephenson, third.

In the Yearbook Sports Writing category, judges recognized David Owens, first; Ben McVay, second; and John Napier, third.

Other yearbook awards included first place, open, for Amanda Veneble; third place, open, for Heather Gammon, and third place, sports, for David Noblett.

In the newspaper catetories, Brad Newman earned first place for news writing; Brian Koonce and Brandi Grady earned respective second and third place awards for editorial writing; and Kristin McWhirter earned honorable mention for feature writing.

In the investigative reporting category, Brad Newman earned second place, Vicky Misa earned third and Rett Terrell received honorable mention.

Matt Tinley earned first place for column writing; and Jenni Gammon received honorable mention for cartoons.

Students at the conference heard a keynote address on ethics and investigative reporting from Miles Moffeit, an OSU graduate who is a Pulitzer Prize nominee with The Denver Post.

Schools participating in the 2004 OCPA contest included Bacone College, Cameron University, East Central University, Eastern Oklahoma College, Northern Oklahoma College, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, OBU, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City Community College, Oral Roberts University, Southern Nazarene University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, St. Gregory’s University, the University of Tulsa and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Later the same evening, media professionals at the Texas Press Association’s annual conference in Dallas honored The Bison with a third-place Mark of Excellence award for Region 8 (Oklahoma and Texas) of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“This is a good placing for The Bison,” said Travis Poling, San Antonio Express-News writer and SPJ officer. “This was a crowded field this year.”

Last year, The Bison earned second place in its first-ever entry in this contest; and again, the only schools judged better were from Texas.

“This is another major milestone,” Todd said. “This means that for two years in a row now, the professional journalists of the Southwest who judge this contest don’t think any Oklahoma school has had a better weekly student newspaper than The Bison.”

In another first for OBU, the Department of Journalism and Public Relations earned recognition last month for its participation in the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board’s fourth annual Collegiate Media and Marketing Competition.

Brian Koonce, senior journalism major and Bison editor in chief for the 2004-05 school year, entered a proposed public relations campaign in the contest that did not win but still earned a $1,000 OERB check for the university.

The 2004 Yahnseh also received national honors last month when it earned a Gold Medal critique from judges representing the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

“Being recognized by CSPA as a Gold Medalist is doubly rewarding; not only does the Board of Judges praise quality work and innovative designs, they also provide valuable information on possible improvement,” Easttom said. “This allows us to set our standard of excellence even higher. The 2003-2004 Yearbook staff should be very proud of themselves – they published quality work and are now seeing tangible proof of that.”

The 2004 Bison was named CSPA Gold Medal winner last semester.

Also last month, the Associated Collegiate Press included the 2004 Yahnseh in its annual Pacemaker award listings as a finalist.

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