"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A party for my journalistic friends--III

Here are the short biographies and photos of the nine outstanding journalists being inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism hall of Fame this Thursday.

JAMES COBURN (1955-) has served as reporter and photographer for The Edmond Sun since 1986. A native of Oklahoma City, flexibility is Coburn’s middle name, going from a passion as photographer to feature *writer and then the city beat and state politics. He was on the scene of the Edmond Postal massacre, and one of the first at the Murrah bombing. His investigative pieces have included nursing homes, race relations, Alzheimer’s, death row, drunken driving, and the homeless. He writes annually about the HOPE center project helping raise funds. He’s won two sweepstakes awards from AP, and first places from AP and SPJ. He won the American Cancer Society’s High Plains Media Award in 2008 and 2009. He won the Edmond Historical Society Historic Preservation Award as well as Photo of the Year from the Oklahoma Press Association.

JOE HANCOCK (1929- ), publisher of the  Hobart Democrat-Chief, began working in newspapers at age nine, five years before his father bought the Democrat-Chief. He worked as a fill-in Linotype operator during summers for papers at Anadarko, Mangum, Frederick and Duncan. While a student at OU,  he worked as operator at the Norman Transcript and Oklahoma Daily. After a two-year stint in the Army, he returned to the Democrat-Chief in 1953, selling advertising and writing sports. He became publisher in 1974 when his father died. He’s active in civic and state associations including the Kiwanis Club and serving on the OU Athletics Council. Name Hobart Citizen of the Year in 1998, he has been president of the Hobart Housing Board sine 1972.  He was president of OPA in 1991-92, and earned the Milt Phillips Award in 2006, OPA’s highest honor.

JOE HIGHT (1958- ) became editor of The Colorado Springs Gazette in 2012 after a 27-year career with The Oklahoman. Hight began his career on The Vista at Central State University. He worked at the Guthrie Daily Leader, the Lawton Constitution and the Shawnee News-Star before joining The Oklahoman in 1985 as a reporter. He held many newsroom jobs before becoming a managing editor in 1999 and director of information and development in 2007. Active in community and professional organizations, he was president of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute and elected to the national APME board. He’s written numerous booklets and articles for the Dart Center, APME and other publications.  He’s taught and lectured for universities and media groups around the world, been involved in efforts that have garnered national awards, and has been featured in books.

JOHN KLEIN (1953- ), senior sports columnist since 2005 for The Tulsa World, began his career in high school as a sports writer for the Perry Daily Journal, crediting Milo Watson with encouraging his career. After graduation from OSU, he was sports editor for the Daily Ardmoreite in 1976-78 before joining the Tulsa World as sports writer.  He worked for the Houston Post in 1985-1990 covering the Southwest Conference, before returning to the World  as state reporter playing an important part of the Murrah building bombing. He became sports editor and columnist in 1995. Known for his enthusiastic storytelling, he has covered football, basketball, NASCAR, boxing and golfing. Winning numerous awards, he was Oklahoma sportswriter of the year in 2000, the top national wrestling writer for seven straight years and the top college baseball writer in the country in the 1980s.

JERRY LAIZURE (1953-2012), senior photographer at the Norman Transcript, worked for Oklahoma newspapers since age 14 when he fibbed about his age at the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise to start as a paper boy. He worked at Pawhuska before studying journalism at OU, where he worked in the production shop at the Oklahoma Daily. He worked briefly for the Oil and Gas Journal before co-founding the Cleveland County Record in Noble in 1984, before it was bought by The Norman Transcript in 1989. His photos won multiple awards from the AP, SPJ and OPA. He helped usher in the digital age of news and photography coverage for the Transcript and other papers, and was often first on the scene of breaking news events, easily  recognizable for his Hawaiian shirts and Santa Claus hats.

MIKE MCCARVILLE (1940- ) has built a national following in political coverage with online The McCarville Report, beginning in 1980. He started as a teen correspondent in Del City  for the Oklahoma City Times in 1957, served in the Army and returned to the Daily Oklahoman and Times in 1961 as reporter. He was publisher of the Del City News in 1963 and worked at the Oklahoma Journal,  Tulsa Tribune,  Norman Transcript and Oklahoma Courier. He  became assistant news director of KWTV in  1971-72. He was  Gov. Dewey Bartlett’s press secretary and worked in his senatorial campaign. He worked at KTOK Radio as investigative reporter, talk show host and program director in 1991-2005. He’s been active in several national and state organizations, including being director of the National Association of Business Political Action Committees.

MARY MÉLON (1961- ), president and publisher of The Journal Record, was named publisher in 2001 after serving as advertising director and associate publisher beginning in 1995. She is a member of the senior management corporate team for The Journal Record’s parent company, the Dolan Company, and serves as group publisher of daily group operations for five additional markets. Mélon earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from OU in 1983. A member of the downtown Rotary Club, she was named Rotarian of the Year in 2003-2004. In 2004, she received 2004 Association for Women in Communications Byliner Award. She was awarded the 2008 Embrace Award by the YWCA, for empowering women and eliminating racism and was inducted into the OCU Meinders School of Business Hall of Honor in 2012.

TOM MUCHMORE (1950- ) is the third generation publisher of The Ponca City News and The Tonkawa News. He also owns and is manager of WBBZ Radio and president of poncacity.net, an Internet provider. He graduated from Ponca City Senior High School and earned a BBA degree from OU. He’s involved in a multitude of professional organizations in Oklahoma and has served as chairman of the Ponca City Area Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. He is currently a trustee on the Lew Wentz Foundation at OSU and a member the OSU Student Media Board. Muchmore received Ponca City’s Outstanding Citizen Award in 2001. He served as president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 1997, and was honored with OPA’s highest honor, the Milt Phillips Award in 2009.

OLIVER C. MURRAY (1941- ) joined the newsroom at WKY-TV (Now KFOR) in 1968 after serving in the Army, becoming the first African American photojournalist in the city. He held many positions including chief news photographer and production/operations manager in a 38-year career. He became a force in the newsroom as a role model for minorities and with the advent of electronic journalism, helping pioneer live news coverage, commanding the station’s and Oklahoma’s  first “live truck.” He, Bob Dotson and George Wesley teamed to produce a documentary on black history in Oklahoma that won three  Emmys. He covered the state capitol, the 1973 McAlester Prison riot, the 1977 Girl Scout murders and the 1995 Murrah building bombing. He was instrumental in starting the local chapter of the Association of Black Journalists.

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