Sequoyah celebration

Transcript staff members (from left) Rebekah Collins, Cody Giles, Caleb Slinkard, Rebecca Howe, Mack Burke, Abbie Sears and Mark Millsap celebrate the Transcript's 2019 Oklahoma Press Association Sequoyah victory, the newspaper's third win a row.

Last Saturday, I sat surrounded by fellow journalists at the annual Oklahoma Press Association awards banquet. It's always a fun event, running into old friends, making new ones and kicking back a little.

The awards themselves are, of course, a lot of fun as well. They're not everything, and they're not the ultimate goal I and my staff work toward every day. But it is nice to be recognized by your peers for your hard work. And that night did not disappoint.

For the third consecutive year, the Transcript won the Sequoyah Award, given to the best newspaper in each of the OPA's divisions (the Transcript is in the top division, Division 1), in addition to first place finishes in feature story, editorial writing, in-depth reporting, photography, sports photography, sports coverage and advertising.

Congratulations to our sister papers the Stillwater News Press and McAlester News-Capital, as well as our in-town competitor/partner the OU Daily on their Sequoyah wins. Oklahoma is served by dedicated journalists across the state, and it's an honor to be counted among them! 

• • •

I'll never forget my first awards ceremony. It was the 2009 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention in Dallas. I was a freshman at Texas A&M University-Commerce, and my college editor James Bright took a moment to pull me aside.

"Don't worry if you don't win anything," he cautioned. "After all, it's just your first year, you'll have more chances."

Those were words of wisdom and, even though I did land a first place award (for PR crisis management, of all things) it's a reminder I keep with me: awards are nice, but daily dedication to serving a community of readers is what truly matters.

• • •

The win also made me think about my dad Gary Slinkard (after all, today is Father's Day). Dad was a journalist, too, in high school. There's this great photo of him at Churchill High School in San Antonio with a phone to his ear, notepad in hand. It's a staged shot, though — you can tell by the fact that there's no cord connected to the phone, and this is the mid-1980s.

My dad wanted to pursue journalism at Texas A&M University, but back then you had to take a typing test, which he didn't pass, so he went on to major in something else. Now, 30 years later, my newspaper won best newspaper in the state for the third year in a row.

This one's for you, Dad. I love you, and I work hard every day to make you proud. Happy Father's Day!

Caleb Slinkard was hired as the editor of the Norman Transcript in August of 2015. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and previously was in charge of several newspapers in northeast Texas.

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