A podcast by the OU Daily was honored as the nation’s best in college media Thursday night in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2021 Mark of Excellence Awards.
The six-episode series, “Destination: Greenwood,” explored the community that was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and ran timed to the centennial of the event. Conceived and led by Beth Wallis, the project explored Greenwood from its inception to present-day, documenting its evolution from Black Wall Street to ashes, the devastation of urban renewal, and the road to repairing a century of injustice.
Wallis, who was then the Daily’s enterprise editor, now works for StateImpact Oklahoma as a reporter focused on the environment and science. Her work runs on public radio stations throughout Oklahoma, and she appeared recently on NPR’s Morning Edition. Also helping edit the project was Donna Edwards, who was then the Daily’s assistant enterprise editor and now is an editor on AP’s Asia Desk in Bangkok.
In other categories, the Daily’s staff was honored as a finalist for in-depth reporting for its broader coverage on the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial. That work spanned a series of stories — also edited by Wallis and Edwards — written by the following staffers:
- Blake Douglas, who explored how Tulsa continues to face racial disparities as the search resumed for grave sites of massacre victims
- Jacinda Hemeon, who examined an ongoing lawsuit seeking reparations for the massacre’s emotional and physical damages
- Ari Fife, who chronicled how a book by an OU professor preserves the history of the massacre through a collection of recovered photographs
- Jillian Taylor, who addressed educators’ efforts to spark systemic change by teaching about the massacre in Oklahoma’s public schools and colleges.
- And Sam Tonkins, who showed how an OU professor choreographed a dance performance to commemorate the historic event.
Those pieces ran in the summer 2021 issue of Crimson Quarterly, the Daily’s news magazine, which was devoted to coverage of the centennial.
Taylor also was honored as a finalist in the feature-writing category for her story examining how Norman’s 2SLGBTQ+ community seeks affirmation in the face of religious condemnation. It addressed the city’s 10-year metamorphosis from one that entertained a three-hour debate surrounding an LGBT History Month proclamation to one that banned the practice of conversion therapy on minors.
All work honored occurred during the tenure of Jordan Miller, who was the Daily’s editor-in-chief for the fall 2020-spring 2021 academic year.
Per SPJ, Mark of Excellence judges were directed to choose only entries they felt were outstanding work worthy of a national honor. Judges could choose up to one national winner in each category and two national finalists.
Winners and finalists were previously recognized as first-place honorees in SPJ’s 12 regional competitions. The Daily had five such honorees.