(405) 425-5070
News
Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.

Christian Chronicle named best newspaper by Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists

Bobby Ross Jr. honored as best reporter — one of 13 overall awards received by the Chronicle.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists honored The Christian Chronicle with two of its top awards: best newspaper for the overall publication and best reporter for Bobby Ross Jr.

In all, the Chronicle claimed 13 awards — including multiple first-place plaques for Ross and Erik Tryggestad — during the organization’s virtual awards ceremony Friday night.

The annual contest celebrates the best of Oklahoma journalism.

The Chronicle, an international newspaper for Churches of Christ based at Oklahoma Christian University, competes in Division A against large newspapers and wire services. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed results of the contest for work published during 2020.

“Interesting story selection, excellent art, good reporting on a diverse range of subjects,” the judge said of the Chronicle’s winning best newspaper entry.

In the “Best of the Best” category for reporting, Ross was recognized for five stories he wrote for the Chronicle, The Associated Press and The Oklahoman. 

His portfolio included coverage of protests and prayers after George Floyd’s death, a feature on Roy and Jeanie Willmon forgiving their daughter’s killers and reporting from the scene of deadly tornadoes.

Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr.

For AP, Ross recounted how a prayer service brought hope to a shaken nation after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. And for The Oklahoman, he caught up with a bombing victim’s mother, Deniece Bell-Pitner, whom he first interviewed 25 years earlier.

“The breadth of Bobby Ross’ reporting and ability to tell stories and connect with a reader put his entries over the top,” the judge said. “The reconnection with Deniece Bell is a tutorial in how to do journalism — from the way he got the story to the follow-up years later. The story of the Willmon family is another example of how to report and write. I had to judge this category; I wanted to read Ross’ stories.”

The Chronicle’s other winners (plus Ross’ awards for AP and The Oklahoman):

Education Reporting

First: African ‘Shark Tank,’ by Erik Tryggestad. Judge: “A fascinating and light-hearted look at a college in Ghana that provides unique training and opportunities to students. The piece, skillfully told, weaves personal anecdotes with an informative narrative that holds the readers’ interest throughout.”

Heritage Christian College's first-ever graduates line up for a class photo on the school's campus in Accra, Ghana.

Heritage Christian College’s first-ever graduates line up for a class photo on the school’s campus in Accra, Ghana.

Third: The Bible in 3D, by Erik Tryggestad

Science-Technology-Health and Environmental Reporting

First: A long, lonely lockdown, by Erik Tryggestad. Judge: “The lead article’s compelling writing and gripping human narratives made me want to keep reading.”

Knox Watson and his grandmother, Judy Forrester, press their hands against a window at Tealridge, an independent living facility in Oklahoma City, as they say goodbye. Watson’s sister, Nora, and their dog, Mae, also came to see Forrester, 72. “She hasn’t been able to hug them since March,” said Forrester’s daughter, Amanda Watson, events coordinator for Oklahoma Christian University. “She is lonely but doing good.”

In fall 2020, Knox Watson and his grandmother, Judy Forrester, press their hands against a window at Tealridge, an independent living facility in Oklahoma City, as they say goodbye. Watson’s sister, Nora, and their dog, Mae, also came to see Forrester, 72. “She hasn’t been able to hug them since March,” said Forrester’s daughter, Amanda Watson, events coordinator for Oklahoma Christian University. “She is lonely but doing good.”

Business Reporting

First: Banking on Black churches, by Erik Tryggestad. Judge: “Good exploration of the past and present of discrimination in the banking system, and how this gave rise to nonprofit lenders that aim to help. Bonus points for presenting concrete numbers and unraveling tough-to-understand concepts.”

Minister Orpheus Heyward cuts a ribbon at a building dedication for the Renaissance Church of Christ in Atlanta, financed by The Solomon Foundation.

Minister Orpheus Heyward cuts a ribbon at a building dedication for the Renaissance Church of Christ in Atlanta, financed by The Solomon Foundation.

Diversity Coverage

First: The Christian response to the killing of George Floyd, by Bobby Ross Jr. and Cheryl Mann Bacon. Judge:This multi-part series offers a deft examination through a religious lens of the outrage, anger and calls for justice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. The diversity of voices, concisely captured, allows for a well-rounded and thought-provoking portrait of the past challenges with racial injustice and systemic racism and the challenges still ahead.”

Trey Elliott prays for Tulsa, Okla., Police Chief Wendell Franklin in the midst of protests after the death of George Floyd. The7-year-old made it his mission to pray for every police officer in Tulsa. Franklin, a member of The Park Church of Christ, said of Elliot: “He is that mustard seed planted which yields a tree used by all.” Franklin praised his city’s peaceful protesters. “May God continue to lay a blanket of protection over all Tulsa,” he said in a tweet.

Trey Elliott prays for Tulsa, Okla., Police Chief Wendell Franklin in the midst of protests after the death of George Floyd. The7-year-old made it his mission to pray for every police officer in Tulsa. Franklin, a member of The Park Church of Christ, said of Elliot: “He is that mustard seed planted which yields a tree used by all.” Franklin praised his city’s peaceful protesters. “May God continue to lay a blanket of protection over all Tulsa,” he said in a tweet.

Second: Coverage of Little Rock church firebombing, by Erik Tryggestad

Personal Column

First: ‘The world doesn’t stop’: Her 15-month-old daughter died in the bombing but she lived on, by Bobby Ross Jr. (for The Oklahoman). Judge: “A very touching piece.”

Second: As Christians, let’s end ‘corona culture,’ by Laura Akins

Editorial/Commentary

First: Christians react to minister’s claim of ‘crocodile tears’ and ‘phony outrage’ over George Floyd’s death, by Bobby Ross Jr. Judge: “A great piece of writing and a service to the community.”

Feature Writing 

Second: Forgiving Carla’s killers, by Bobby Ross Jr.

The father and mother pose with daughter Carla on Easter Sunday 1995. Also pictured are Carla’s killers: Mitchell W. Skinner and Patric D. Patterson.

The father and mother pose with daughter Carla on Easter Sunday 1995. Also pictured are Carla’s killers: Mitchell W. Skinner and Patric D. Patterson.

Third: 25 years ago, a prayer service gave hope to a shaken America, by Bobby Ross Jr. (for AP)

Entertainment/Arts/Leisure

Second: Lauren Akins values faith, family over fame, by Laura Akins

Lauren Akins, with husband Thomas Rhett and their three daughters, celebrates the release of her book “Live in Love.”

Lauren Akins, with husband Thomas Rhett and their three daughters, celebrates the release of her book “Live in Love.”

Sports Feature

Second: At 84, retired major-leaguer Lindy McDaniel still ‘Pitching for the Master,’ by Bobby Ross Jr.

Filed under: best newspaper bobby ross Jr Christian journalism Erik Tryggestad International journalism journalism awards National News Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists Partners Top Stories

Don’t miss out on more stories like this.

Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

Did you enjoy this article?

Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.

$
Personal Info

Dedicate this Donation

In Honor/Memory of Details

Card Notification Details

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Donation Total: $3 One Time